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Accepted Paper:

The roles of data analysts on fish farms: care for the data, care for the fish and productivity  
Francisca Grommé (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Short abstract:

Fish farm managers are testing digital technologies’ capacities to deliver on the simultaneous promise of productivity and sustainability. The paper zooms in on the everyday negotiations of data analysts, which can be relevant for how workers care for fish and their environment.

Long abstract:

Digital technologies are used on fish farms, among others, to track spawning, automate feeding, simulate algae concentrations or to predict consumer demand. The (contested) promise of these technologies is to increase food production, while reducing pollution and waste through efficiency gains and decreased resource usage. However, we rarely ask how work practices change with these technologies, in particular if and whether the experienced relations between workers, animals and habitats change.

As part of ethnographic fieldwork on two small-scale fish farms in the Netherlands, I follow how farm managers test digital technologies’ capacities to deliver on the simultaneous promise of productivity and sustainability. I zoom in on the practices of a relatively new role, the data analyst, showing how this worker negotiates responsibilities of care for the data, care for the fish and productivity on an everyday basis. A recurring negotiation, for instance, is between optimizing a system for enhancing fish growth and optimizing for circularity (re-use) of water. This project thereby combines an analysis of data practices with insights about how diverse, interdependent relations of care between workers, animals and habitats are rearranged in work practices (Verbeek 2014; Pols 2015).

Traditional Open Panel P210
Digital technologies in food and agriculture: merging STS with Critical Agrifood Studies
  Session 3