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Friday, October 12 • 4:00pm - 8:00pm
Museum of Random Memory: A critical data literacy exhibition / intervention

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This interactive exhibition has two parts (for first part, see preconference workshop submission). It showcases a social research experiment called "Museum of Random Memory" (MoRM), performed by a team of scholars, activists, artists, computer scientists, and other “uncurators.” MoRM exemplifies the meeting point of digital and material culture with a particular focus on activism through critical pedagogy. On the surface, the event is a playful engagement where visitors are encouraged to donate memories to the museum’s collection and view their memories alongside others’. Below the surface, MoRM generates critical consciousness about multiple aspects of datafication, data collection, big data, and corporatization and monetization of our personal data and memories through the seamlessness of apps and platforms on our digital devices.

We’ll achieve necessary logistics for the exhibition prior to AoIR, with the help of AoIR members at Concordia University. We will secure an exhibition space at or nearby the conference location that will host the AoIR attendees. We propose conducting the interactive exhibition as an evening event for AoIR, separate from the conference dinner or opening reception. Perhaps prior to or after one of the keynotes?

At the event, we use many different visual displays, verbal prompts, and the lure of ‘something is happening here,’ to engage visitors in conversation about how the use of digital media platforms and technologies impacts the shape of our future memories and cultural heritages. The focus on 'memory' allows us to engage people in thinking about larger and more complex sociotechnical relations. The idea of ‘random memory’ gives visitors an easy access point, since the phrase is playful, sparks curiosity. Drawing visitors further into the exhibition, we get them to explore their devices to assess how they generate, store, and share data.

The exact performance depends on who participates in the preconference workshop, but the following is representative: We tell visitors we’re collecting memories to add to our museum and invite them to participate. As they’re looking for some object, idea, or image to donate, we encourage them to sign our 30-meter Terms Of Service agreement (a long scroll hangs from the ceiling. In 4point font, it’s nearly impossible to read). Laughing alongside participants, we invite them to reflect on how we sign impossibly long and unreadable TOS. Continuing, we invite them to tell the story behind the donation, either on paper or through our online interface. They are invited to talk further with ‘uninterpreters.’ The “data literacy” involves conversing with participants about questions like: What is the process of remembering and forgetting in the digital age? How are memories archived for us by digital platforms like Facebook and Google? Could we be more critical and conscious of how our future heritage is being created, not only by us but by many automated features of new tech? 100 years from now, what will archaeologists find to teach them about what happened back in 2017? What would we like them to find? How can we use everyday memory-making practices to consider possible socio-technical futures?

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
Concordia Black Box, Concordia University, 1515 Ste. Catherine St. West