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Saturday, October 13 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
Performing Tech Cultures

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Yonit Rusho, Daphne R. Raban
Research to date on the value of information has mostly focused on the consumption side of information, namely, that consumers need to experience information in order to evaluate it. When it comes to digital media, users have multiple roles. In this context, materiality is applied to assess the role that technological components play in the interaction between user and digital media. The concurrent consumption and production of information raises questions as to the influence of information production on information value perception. To this end, we conceptualize the information production process.

The fundamental assumption in this research is that value perception changes as a result of production experience. Furthermore, this study examines the boundaries of value perception for producers of information.

309 participants took part in a set of experiments. Willingness-to-pay by consumers and willingness-to-accept payment by producers were measured before and after consumption/ production/ peer-production.

Results show that consumers’ and producers’ subjective value before their experience were equivalent; Change in value perception before and after consumption/production produced a statistically significant effect; Producers who evaluate the information after the experience, evaluated it higher than producers who evaluated the information before the experience; and value perception measured before the production by a single producer is lower than value perception by peer-producers. Hypotheses were accepted. If accepted, additional results will be presented at the conference.

Li Cornfeld
At the beginning of each new year, the transnational technology industry convenes in Las Vegas, Nevada for the world’s most massive tech tradeshow. Formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, the event recently rebranded as CES in order to better signal its inclusion of internet technologies, which are among the most important components of the show. Before any such technologies enter public circulation, their futures hinge in part on their debut on the tradeshow floor. There, startups seek investors to fund their projects, designers seek manufacturers to convert prototypes into products, and distributors look for products that will sell in markets across the globe. This paper looks to the tech tradeshow as a convention that concretizes multiple distributed networks involved in the industrial production of internet technologies. Far from natural or obvious collaborations, the cross-sector and transnational partnerships that drive the advancement of internet technologies emerge through social labor, exemplified by the industry rituals on display in Las Vegas during CES.

Misti Hewatt Yang
On September 26, 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered a keynote address to the 70th annual meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. In the speech, Zuckerberg equated access to the Internet with other human rights. Zuckerberg’s remarks provide an opportunity to examine how Silicon Valley leaders, the UN, and the Internet co-construct imperatives for action. In this paper, I employ actor-network theory (ANT) to trace the relationship between Zuckerberg, the UN, and the Internet. I suggest that because agency is networked and communal it is intimately connected to the ancient Greek conception of ethos. By approaching Zuckerberg’s speech as an articulation of agency, I illustrate a network that advances what I call a technoliberal ethos. In support of this argument, the paper provides a deep contextualization and close reading of Zuckerberg’s speech. The paper recognizes the agency of the Internet as an actant alongside the UN and Zuckerberg.

Rachel Bergmann
Research within the “material turn” of Internet scholarship has sought to uncover the physical infrastructures behind Internet technology and its circulation; however, another layer of materiality exists within these networks. Although often hidden from view, philanthropic practice plays a major role in funding the scientific research, technological development, and political advocacy surrounding contemporary digital technology. In recent years, Silicon Valley tech companies have shown particular interest in funding philanthropic work on AI research, ICT4D, Internet policy, and political advocacy. Humanities researchers have contributed excellent work on tech culture and Silicon Valley ideology (Marwick 2013, Losse 2012, Barbrook & Cameron 1996); however, few Internet scholars have included the philanthropic practices of tech companies and founders in their analyses. Drawing on grey literature and the web presences of a few Silicon Valley philanthropies, I will discuss the material practices and politics of tech philanthropies. I examine the projects they choose to fund, the vocabulary and rhetoric used in their literature, and the underlying theories of change they promote. I argue that their approaches represent a kind of philanthrocapitalism mixed with what Barbrook & Cameron call the “Californian Ideology” and a strong belief that technology is a universal solution to complex global problems. The philanthropic practices of the San Francisco tech community constitute a vital element of Silicon Valley’s political existence in material, infrastructural ways.

Saturday October 13, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond Centre