Nathan Jurgenson is a social media theorist, a contributing editor of The New Inquiry, a researcher at Snapchat, and co-founder and Chair of the Theorizing the Web conference. From surveillance, privacy, identity, and most currently photography, Nathan’s work centers on the enmeshment of the digital and physical. This is opposed to seeing these as separate, in binaries like the online and offline, what he coined “Digital Dualism” to critique.
As chair of the fifth annual Theorizing the Web conference this spring in New York City, I’m am happy to organize this panel at Digital Labor. PJ Rey and I first thought of starting our own event shortly after attending the 2009 Digital Labor conference, and this panel asks the types of questions both events take on. At the heart of this discussion is theorizing how data is captured. While digital technologies are often said to be “virtual”, out in some “cyber” space, this session critiques such digital dualism by understanding data to be deeply material and physically embodied. Rob Horning looks most broadly at the relationship of data and the self, where data can even preempt and challenge the long-held notion of “being oneself”. PJ Rey describes how flesh, Facebook, and phones co-constitute the self, and Melissa Gira Grant builds this perspective into an analysis of how sex work has merged with the network. Zeynep Tufekci also looks at the work of the network by describing global protest movements in relation to the “sharing economy”, what that term could differently mean in and outside of neoliberalism. This discussion will be moderated by Molly Osberg. –Nathan Jurgenson, panel organizer