PROJECT: THE FUTURE OF INTERACTIVITY
The Sensor Society is led by Mark Andrejevic, incoming Professor in Communications and Media Studies, Monash University. This theme explores emerging trends in digital information and communication technologies from a societal perspective. The implementation of technological advances depends not simply on engineering and technical innovations, but on the ability to envision and address the societal consequences that flow from such developments. As interactive capabilities come to characterize a growing range of objects and spaces, there is a tendency toward increasingly interdependent forms of connectivity as well as toward the automation of data collection, processing, and response. These developments have implications for the use of information and communication technologies in education, health care, security, the workplace, politics, and beyond. The “tableting” of the schools, for example, allows for enhanced forms of customized instructional delivery and the reconfiguration of classroom relations, while also generating large amounts of data about students in ways that can raise privacy concerns (not least because of an increasing reliance upon commercial educational platforms).
The theme explores how data mining transforms decision-making processes in ways that affect individual life chances and strategic planning processes in the public and private sectors. Data driven decision-making processes promise to increase efficiency and reliability but also raise the specter of new forms of discrimination and social sorting. Potential research themes include:
1) The smart city: the social implications of interactive infrastructures;
2) Networked sociality: the ways in which social media continue to reconfigure social interactions, and identity in a range of spheres of social practice;
3) The internet of things: changing patterns of interaction associated with the layering of interactivity across the object world and the spaces of labor, leisure, and domesticity;
4) Big data and society: political and cultural consequences of the automation of data collection and data processing.