Trust, Surveillance, Democracy

Two dominant approaches guide the ways we consider "works of art" as modes of visual narration.

The cumulative logics of digital information systems, and their social, pollical, and economic applications have trended towards collecting and aggregating vast troves of data. Aligning with this capacity for data collection is a generative tendency weighted towards another data point – "engagement" – based on human action of shares, views, likes. Layered at all levels are private, state, and not-state actors leveraging social data feeds with algorithms and machine learning to shape social meanings, motivate action, and produce immaterial or material value. At this conference we want to ask:

  • Who do we TRUST to collect, manage, and apply algorithms to apply this social data? Is all data collection "good collection"; is all engagement good engagement?

  • What to make of data collection as modes of SURVEILLANCE? What are the institutions that come to protect our data, and what might be the unintended consequences for the push to more data privacy for the free flow of human interaction?

  • And in asking these questions, we want to open consideration of the future and scale DEMOCRACY. Rather than framed by traditional understandings of the social contract – the state or international order – a model of democracy that emerges from digital life simply a meshwork of micro contractualism based on data choices: "allow this device to …" "can we track …" "accept these cookies"; and based on engagement choices, do we want to align ourselves with social media platforms and how they define, accelerate, and block modes of engagement and kinds of speech?

What might be an existential challenge for the informational foundations for future technological futures based on digital tools and social data? Who we trust as the interface of this data has deep ramifications for the framing the direction of discourses, our understandings of each other, of knowledge, and our place ecological realties?