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Accepted Paper:

Spimes as material culture: anthropological approaches to (and through) location-aware objects  
Lane DeNicola (University College London)

Paper long abstract:

In 2004 author and design theorist Bruce Sterling used the term "spime" to refer to an emerging class of electronically-enhanced object whose closest existing prototype is perhaps represented by the Apple iPhone. Among their definining features: an awareness of their own location, perpetual network connectivity, and a virtual "instantiation" that parallels their material one. Advocates suggest that the proliferation of such capabilities into an expanding array of pedestrian objects could initiate profound changes in human-artefact relations. In this paper I tentatively adopt Sterling's concept and discuss its relevance not just as a subject for material culture, but as a tool for innovative anthropological inquiry. In helping to reframe our imagined relations with artefacts, I suggest that the nascent field of digital anthropology could build upon the spime and location-awareness as contributions to a deeper encounter with industrial production, material flows, and the crises of human-artefact relations.

Panel IW003
Digital anthropology
  Session 1