October 2021

For the October meeting, we discussed two chapters from Volmar & Stine’s (Eds) Media Infrastructure and the Politics of Digital Time: Hui’s Problems of Temporalities in the Digital Epoch (chapter three); and Ernst’s Suspending the “Time Domain”: Technological Tempor(e)alities of Media Infrastructures (chapter four). These two chapters shifted our focus from youth and education, moving more towards a focus on how platforms reorient our perception of time (sitting firmly in ‘platform’, rather than ‘pedagogy’).

More specifically, Hui’s chapters discussed the concept of tertiary protentions created by digital technologies, in which predictive technologies (such as AI) are able to help determine the future through making predictions. This suggests that the datafication of the world lends an air of authority and validity to predictive analytics, with actors then seeking to order the world around the data-driven predictions which are made. Essentially, predictive analytics which are deemed ‘legitimate’ (largely those wielded by actors with large caches of social, cultural, and economic capital) are able to shape the world in their own image.

Ernst’s chapter discusses the idea of microtemporalities: units of time which are too small for humans to perceive but which can be measured by digital technologies. These new, increasingly small measures of time are reflective of Capital and ever-increasing demands for efficiency, with human labour now being measured against these microtemporalities.

We did discuss how each chapter could be connected to educational settings, with both being relevant to how the ‘value’ of education is measured. In particular, if we are to make data-driven decisions around education (and what is of ‘value’ in education), how would we deal with incorrect predictions or minimise any harms from these predictions? this includes how the present is impacted by these predictions; there is a tendency towards an automating of small tasks (such as predictive text or autocorrect) which can centralise decision making abilities to those who create the software initially. This speaks to Susan Edwards’ (2021) Digital play and technical code: what new knowledge formations are possible?, which we read for the April meeting. Edwards examines how initial framings of software carry through until much later in its lifecycle, highlighting how iterations upon software works around their initial framing.

These chapters (and Edwards as well) invoke what must now be the group’s mantra: how do we promote technology which is open (both in code and in ideology), rather than centralised and restrictive? These chapters are certainly a more difficult read than some of the others examined in this group but they offer a useful perspective in this ouroboros-like discussion: time is something we often take for granted, forgetting that we do, in fact, choose how it is measured and this can be critiqued just as much as the software which imposes time-constraints upon us.

Notes on the reading can be found here.

Minutes from the meeting can be found here.

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