J.J. Sylvia, a fourth-year CRDM candidate, presented two pieces at the International Communication Association annual conference in Japan this summer. His first presentation, “Visual Representations of Big Data on the Web,” was part of the panel Selective Visuals: Politics, Metaphors, Narratives. The paper featured a quantitative study that analyzed the way big data is represented metaphorically through visuals on the web. This study is part of a larger project that aims to explore the predominant problem-space of information and big data in order to explore the potential for alternative problem-spaces.
A second presentation, “Programming Future Conduct: How Big Data Affects Subjectivation and Self-Care” was part of a Data and Surveillance panel. This paper argued for a Foucauldian approach to big data through the theoretical framework of subjectivation. J.J. argues that through personal use of data, shaping one’s own life is a form of provocation that takes place outside of discursive practices. Such an active shaping of one’s life offers a way to move beyond discourse, which suffers from a decline of symbolic efficiency, to an opening up of a new potential for intervening in power and creating new avenues for programming one’s future conduct.
While in Japan, he also explored the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, a famous walk used for meditation by 20th century Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro.