A Bestiary of Digital Monsters

In November, I took a co-authored paper entitled A Bestiary of Digital Monsters to the IFIP conference in California. The IFIP Working Group 8.2 was established in 1977 and focuses on the use of IT in organizational settings. It was the first time I’d written for a group belonging to the International Federation for Information Processing, but the call for papers was pretty enticing and spoke to a lot of themes that we are dealing with in the Data as Relation research project.

As the Call for Papers put it

Cautionary tales of technology have often employed monster notions, such as the sorcerer’s apprentice and the Frankenstein figure (Winner, 1978). The complex hybrid assemblages that have become so crucial for our everyday lives, are both our own creation but also under no-one’s control (Haraway, 1992). The monster is not “the other;” instead most of us are deeply implicated in its ongoing (re)creation.

Presenting with my colleagues Michael Hockenhull and Christopher Gad, we shared some ethnographic stories from the project, mostly concerning technologies that people we are working with are uneasy about. The paper was published as part of the proceedings of the IFIP conference. We were asked by conference-goers how we plan to develop it – there’s a lot to think with in the framing, but the intriguing part for me was how borrowing the bestiary as a format allowed us to bring a range of stories together across differences.