Publicly Sited

Media, Technology & Culture 07 (2nd Edition): Embodied Technologies

November 16, 2021

Media technologies today seem to be everywhere. Assisting us in – or invading – each and every corner of our daily existence. We have already discussed how this ubiquity is embedded into a huge range of physical infrastructures; environments where media technologies surround us. And yet, we also increasingly carry media around with us, in our pockets, hands, ears, across our eyes, around our wrists. We wear media like clothes – and we may soon implant media within our bodies. This need not be seen in the guise of science fiction. It is more interesting to see it as really quite ordinary. For a long time, we humans have shared an intimacy with media technologies. They not only affect how we see ourselves, but modulate and help produce who and what we are. In this episode, we will begin our exploration of media as embodied technologies with the humble mobile phone. Through their aestheticisation, practical uses and technological development, mobile phones were an important precursor to the myriad mobile devices we know today. Contemporary embodied technologies however go beyond being portable, or affording wireless access to online content. They are increasingly built into our bodies, and modulate our interactions with environments: automatically detecting one’s geographic location and orientation, or one’s bodily temperature and heartrate, or the ambient sound and lighting in a room. This leads to a range of issues warranting critique, which we explore with reference to increasingly popular 'self-tracking' apps and wearables. Should the significant bodily data sets generated by such apps and devices concern us? Might we need new ways to think about digital literacy, medical efficacy, privacy, and surveillance? And how might these mobile technologies be developed and applied in the future?

Thinkers Discussed: Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska (Life After New Media); Adriana de Souza e Silva and Jordon Frith (Mobile Interfaces in Public Spaces); Erving Goffman (briefly); Sherry Turkle (The Second Self / Evocative Objects); Lisa Gitelman (Always Already New); Harvey May and Greg Hearn (The Mobile Phone as Media); James Miller (The Fourth Screen: Mediatization and the Smartphone); Mark Weiser (The Computer for the 21st Century); Ian Bogost (Apple's Airpods Are an Omen); Judith Butler (briefly); Zygmunt Bauman (Liquid Modernity); Daniel Palmer (iPhone Photography: Mediating Visions of Social Space); James Gilmore (Everywear: The Quantified Self and Wearable Fitness Technologies); Adam Greenfield (Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing); Kate Crawford, Jessa Lingel and Tero Karppi (Our Metrics, Ourselves: A Hundred Years of Self-Tracking from the Weight Scale to the Wrist Wearable Device); Hillel Schwartz (Never Satisfied: Social History of Diets, Fantasies and Fat); Michel Foucault (Technologies of the Self).

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App