Martin (XPUB)-thesis outline

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Thesis Outline:

Research question:

How can an understanding of the underlying mechanism operating between users and (self)surveillance systems create more awareness of the issues concerning the marketization of human data?

Sub questions:

— How, when, and why did our online data become merchandized? By whom and for what purposes?
— What are the issues related to the use of self-quantification/self-tracking practices? (self-alienation, legitimization of surveillance and self-surveillance in physical context, free labor).
— What can be done to raise awareness to the users about the effects of self-quantification/self-tracking practices?

Introduction (700 words)

— Starts with an appetizing paragraph, written as a small story about the life of a self-data user.
— Brief context, what are we talking about and why? What is/are the problem(s) Why does it has to be discussed and addressed.
— Introduce the topic of the first chapter about the marketisation of user’s data, from 2001 until nowadays.
— Introduce the topic of the second chapter about self-quantification/alienation, legitimization of surveillance and self-surveillance in physical contexts, and free labor.
— Introduce the topic of the third chapter exploring alternatives, and promoting a counter-use of techno surveillance systems.

Chapter 1: The marketisation of user’s data, from 2001 until nowadays (1000 words)

How/When/Why did our online data became merchandized? How is it valued?
By who and for what purposes can this information be used? Advertising, politics, governments, etc.
Why did the human attention became an economy?

Helpful references:

• SHOSHANA ZUBOFF, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019)
Warns against this shift towards a «surveillance capitalism». Her thesis argues that, by appropriating our personal data, the digital giants are manipulating us and modifying our behavior, attacking our free will and threatening our freedoms and personal sovereignty.

• EVGENY MOROZOV, Capitalism’s New Clothes (2019)
Extensive analysis and critic of Shoshana Zuboff research and publications.

• TIM WU, The Attention Merchants, (2016)
How the detection and marketisation human attention has definied industry of our time/attention

• BYRON REEVES AND CLIFFORD NASS, The Media Equation, How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places (1996) Precursor study of the relation between humans and machine, and how do you human relate to them.


Chapter 2: Self-quantification/alienation, legitimization of surveillance and self-surveillance in physical contexts, and free labor (2300 words)

Self-tracking practices How does the promotion of self tracking/quantification practices/tools allow tech giants to gather and sell even more personal informations about it’s users? What are the alienating effects of such tools/practice? How does this participates in a culture of surveillance and self-surveillance where monitoring systems don’t limit themselves to the online world but are also implemented in physical environments and on human bodies.

From online to physical What are the example of tools, devices, systems which monitors humans behavior in physical contexts, under what pretext do they exist, what are be the risk for our freedoms? How far could it go? Are we becoming users of our own environments?
Helpful references:

• OMAR KHOLEIF, Goodbye, World! — Looking at Art in the digital Age (2018)
Ask how the Internet has changed the way we perceive and relate, and interact with/to images. State that the internet has created an transforming the «world a the network of all network»

• MARK O’CONNELL, To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death Hardcover (2017)
Talks about trans humanism, and show how the fascination/obsession for new technologies can lead to conceive our own human body as a device.


Chapter 3: Agree and continue? Exploring alternatives, and promoting a counter-use of techno surveillance systems (2300 words)

How do these companies manage to sill get the consent from most of their users on their policy? What human biases do they exploit? What can be the alternatives to techno-surveillance? What can be the active of roles of artists, curators and public cultural institution such as museum upon this realm
Helpful references:

• MELISSA GRONLUND, Contemporary Art and Digital Culture (2016) Analyses the impact of the internet and digital technologies in our modern societies and contemporary art practice

• AARON SWARTZ, Freedom to Connect: on Victory To Save Open Internet, Fight Online Censors (1986-2013) How do computers and the Internet « empower people around the world with the freedom to connect », and preaching the Open access to information

• KATRIN FRITSCH, Towards an emancipatory understanding of widespread datafication (2018)
Suggests that in response to our society of surveillance, artists can suggest activist response that doesn’t necessarily involve technological literacy, but instead can promote strong counter metaphors or/and counter use of these introsuing technologies.

Conclusion (700 words)

—Sum up of all the chapter
—Answer to the research question
—Further research