Good Wives: Algorithmic Architectures as Metabolization
Text of a talk delivered at Digital Labor: Sweatshops, Picket Lines, and Barricade, New York, November 14th-16th, 2014.
This talk has a few different starting points, which include a forum I held last March on Angela Mitropoulos’ work Contract and Contagion that explored the expansions and reconfigurations of capital, time, and work through the language of Oikonomics or the “properly productive household”, as well as the work that I was doing with Patricia Clough, Josh Scannell, and Benjamin Haber on a paper called “The Datalogical Turn”, which explores how the coupling of large scale databases and adaptive algorithms “are calling forth a new onto-logic of sociality or the social itself” as well as, I confess, no small share of binge-watching the TV show The Good Wife. So, please bear with me as I take you through my thinking here. What I am trying to do in my work of late is a form of feminist thinking that can take quite seriously not only the onto-sociality of data and the ways in which bodily practices are made to extend far and wide beyond the body, but a form of thinking that can also understand the paradox of our times: How and why has digital abundance been ushered in on the heels of massive income inequality and political dispossession? In some ways, the last part of that sentence (why inequality and political dispossession) is actually easier to account for than understanding the role that such “abundance” has played in the reconfiguration or transfers of wealth and power.