“Without Innovation: African American Lifeworlds and the Internet of Things” ⇢ MITH/UMD, 10/14/14

I am happy to report that on 10/14 I will speaking at MITH– The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, as part of their “Digital Dialogues” series.

Here is the abstract ⇢ Abstract for “Without Innovation.” In this talk I’m bringing some important thinkers from the African American tradition, Fred Moten, Angela Davis, Frederick Douglass, to bear on two interlocked matters, 1. the continually haunted origins of so much technological innovation, and by extension the digital humanities (think here of the important work typified in the recent issue of differences, on the “dark side” of digital humanities, or Moya Bailey’s excellent essay on de-centering DH discourse; and 2. to demonstrate how we might conceptually connect black studies to a real technological innovation, in this case the rise of the Internet of Things.”

I’ve also become fascinated with the rise of IFTTT more generally. IFTTT is an acronym for “If This Then That,” and it’s supposed to be a new user friendly way for “regular people” to learn to program in the Internet of Things. More importantly, it is a way of making one’s environment responsive to one’s needs. So, you walk into a room, the lights turn on, and music begins to play. If it is only you then your favorite station clicks on. If it is your partner entering the room, that music comes on instead. (If you both come in at the same time? Well add that to the now ever-growing list of shit couples are going to have to work out!)

I’ve started a new research pocket to accompany the talk. Right now the site mainly consists of images that speak to the talk’s conceptual outline. But over the next few weeks I will continue to add the talk to the images. What I’m calling a ‘pocket’ is simply a website tied to a research question. With a pocket I release myself from consistent commentary on every object I put in the pocket. Sometimes things are just there because they should be in the pocket!


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