Counting By Other Means
Alex Taylor (City, University of London)
Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Phoebe Sengers (Cornell University)
Thursday 1 September, 16:00-17:45, 18:00-19:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

The computational count is everywhere. Ubiquitously, its logics of efficiency organise time and figure things in an alluringly singular way. How are we to make sense of this computational regime, and how might we imagine alternate encounters that thrive in a promiscuity of counting and time-telling?

Long abstract:

Beneath us there is a ticking, a computational count that winds its way down to the next interrupt. Working through varied examples of this "regime of computation" (Hayles 2005), many of us in STS have been grappling with how our own human agencies entangle with those that pulse through this ubiquitous count. Although disparate, our mixture of research points to is an alluringly singular, teleological organization of time, a time-telling that configures a peculiar relationship between life and labour; the count collapses life into a 'labour-time', constituting it in terms of quantified metrics, performance and productivity. Provocatively, our accounts also make the space for more careful and caring imaginaries of who and what could count in/through computation. Surfaced are the multiple bodily, political and ethical entanglements and becomings, the temporally bound 'processes of mediation' (Kember and Zylinska 2012) that perform the count. With what we would want to call a "feminist time-telling"—one that thrives not in the singularity but promiscuity of time-telling—we find the possibility for alternate encounters, a counting by other means.

This session seeks to provide a forum where topically diverse works that examine the computational count might mingle, and enliven new interconnections and mutations. Asking who and what else might come to count in this computation, we invite possibilities for frictions, laughter, experimentation, (dis)agreements, and generative refigurings.

Hayles, N. K. (2005). My Mother Was a Computer. London: University of Chicago Press.

Kember, S., & Zylinska, J. (2012). Life After New Media. MIT Press.