We must acknowledge that we are, most of us, deeply complicit in the order of data colonialism, whether we like it or not.
– Nick Couldry / Ulises Meijas
Technodiversity involves thinking about divergences within technological development (such as cultural histories), that is, to produce alternative technologies.
– Yuk Hui
Our lives are subject to processes of datafication through which big tech companies and governments extract data from us for profit or social and political control. The material thus collected is fed into the algorithms and artificial intelligence trained to monitor human behaviour. In digital capitalism, or ‘data colonialism’ life is appropriated as a resource and managed and traded in the form of data. This not only perpetuates existing inequality and discrimination, but also leads to new injustices and power imbalances. How can we resist data colonialism and produce alternative technologies?
The concept of technodiversity can provide insights that cannot be reduced to capitalist extraction. Technodiversity recognizes that technologies are temporally and spatially produced by different knowledge systems, ideologies, political interests, economic forces and cultural practices. This liberating perspective can create space for collectives, peoples and identities to produce and control their own data – no data, small data, indigenous data, more-than-human data, feminist data, queer data – and not be governed by Big Data and oppressive algorithms.
To safeguard subjectivity and the unmediated self, we must rethink our relationships with data, defying the extractive logic of contemporary data regimes. From the intersections of bodies, identities, digital technologies, artistic practices and activism, we can envision a data agency that is embodied and potentially subversive.
Studium Generale Rietveld Academie is a transdisciplinary theory programme that addresses students and faculty across all departments and disciplines at the academy, as well as the general public. It wants to understand how art and design are entangled with other domains (from the personal to the political, from the vernacular to the academic), how ‘now’ is linked with past and future, ‘here’ with ‘elsewhere’.