‘The Dark Side of the Digital’ Conference

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The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Center for 21st Century Studies hosted a conference last weekend titled ‘The Dark Side of the Digital‘. The conference’s website gave this as part of its description:

The Dark Side of the Digital seeks proposals for critical, historical, and theoretical papers and creative presentations that shed light on some of the dangerous but overlooked consequences of the 21st-century transformation from mechanical reproduction to digital remediation. We are especially interested in work that pays particular attention to the conjunction of neoliberalism and socially networked digital media, in order to offer some suggestions about how the digital can best move forward in the 21st century.

The Chronicle of Higher Education had an interesting write-up on what was discussed, which also mentioned that “one speaker even flew a small drone as a visual aid; it hit the classroom ceiling and crashed.”

Among the topics discussed were the controversial yet increased use of MOOCs in higher education; the (perhaps unintended) racial consequences of “scam-baiting“; the limiting of choice due to targeted marketing; and the value of theory versus an emphasis on pragmatism.

Regarding use of abstract theory at certain points, one observer noted:

The event sometimes veered into a dense fog of theoretical jargon. During her talk, Ms. Cohen said she had spent part of the conference “writing down statements that, if uttered in a room full of lawyers, would cause people to roll on the floor with tears of laughter streaming down their faces.” As she put it: “Necropolitics versus thanatopolitics—what the hell?”

Read more of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s coverage of the event.

Click here for the conference’s official website.


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