The session explores how markets, digital technologies and related metrics 'see' and what they fail to see.
Visibility is an inherent part of processes of knowledge formation, connected to ways of seeing and knowing that can be reified, reflected on and used for various purposes. The theme of visibility further intertwines with modern notions of control and governmentality, and associated promises of well-being, the idea being that by making previously unseen aspects of bodies, lives, events or temporalities detectable, we can gain more control over life processes and entities and transform them into possible sources of value.
With the digital economy's classificatory architecture, the ways in which market institutions gather knowledge of their clients, customers, or employees through instruments relying on data traces have multiplied. Individuals and groups are sorted and scored, slotted and matched for the purpose of maximizing profit. The aim of this session is to explore how technologies and related metrics aim to convert previously undetected and unseen processes into traceable and perceptible information. The papers can explore 'seeing' with data and devices in relation to theoretical and empirical research of various kinds. The visibility offered by metrics and figures is regarded as an active process, aim or a profit-making desire rather than a static quality of presence or absence. The guiding questions of the session suggest that in order to engage with the processes of visibility related to data and devices in a more detailed manner, it is essential to understand how technologies and practices of visibility offer (partial) vistas and visualizations to people's lives, professional knowledge, economic or environmental processes.