Erasure, an attempt to surpass datafication

Samson, Audrey. 2015. Erasure, an attempt to surpass datafication. APRJA (A Peer-Reviewed Journal About), 4(1), pp. 44-55. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Selfies, email archives, twitter posts, likes, places, late night chat logs, health insurance records, bank transfers, search histories… all those bits of identity, involuntarily immortalised as personality profiles in corporate server farms. Could erasure offer some respite from endless datafication? This “undead media” (Chun 134) not only facilitates the surveillance apparatus, the persistence of data also affects how we remember. Digital death (post-mortem digital data ownership concerns) exemplifies how the structure and inner workings of network technologies and software platforms affect our experience in a tangible way. The following research is concerned with what kind of role the materiality of Internet technologies plays in post-mortem digital legacy, and how it bleeds into our mourning practices. It explores these questions by examining how Facebook and Google deal with digital death, and what kind of consequences the materiality of the network entails. The notions of materiality are understood here as a space of interaction between code and hardware (Hayles) and perceived materialization of phenomena iteratively configured by dynamics of “intra-actions” (Barad 140). In the examples considered I look at how terms of agreement apply to memory in the form of externalised tertiary retention in the process of “grammatization” (Stiegler 3). The research also looks at the biological human memory’s materiality and its need to forget (Kirschenbaum). I discuss the project as a means to propose digital data funerals as an artistic strategy to make data tangible and to explore how these layers of stockpiled data constantly re-configure our identities. I argue that digital data funerals offer a symbolic ritualised gesture that draws attention to the materiality of data through tangible and physical degradation, in an attempt to surpass post-mortem datafication, and surveillance.

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Delete, Datafication, Surveillance, Materiality

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1 June 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Nov 2019 16:28

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 14:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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