Digital Subjectivation and Socialitiy (in german)
Chair: Frank Hillebrandt (Hagen)
Thorben Mämecke (Hagen): “Welcome to the Machine”. On Digital Subjectification and Sociotechnical Algorithms
The algorithm does not only link “the machine” and digitization. It also functions as a critical concept for describing sociotechnical interactions. In terms of the history of ideas, it illustrates the current nature of social control paradigms. Whereas under the conditions of industrial society, it primarily describes the restrictive arrangement of social entities, in its information technology variant, it precisely marks the flexible properties of technical and social systems. In presence of Industry 4.0, IoT, and wearable technologies, the algorithm is no longer limited to the integration of physical entities into pre-structured processes, but intervenes between the entities in a researching and constructing way. In the context of individualized lifestyles, widely diffuse work practices, or the ubiquitous as well as opaque pandemic events of modern society, the algorithm collects social data and generates social patterns in order to provide orientation and reduce contingency.
Nevertheless, the emergence of corresponding algorithms, however, can by no means be fully explained by economic rationalization theories. Rather, the subjectivizing power of algorithms always reflects the balance of power that pervades sociality as such.
Eryk Noji (Hagen): The Cybernetic Subject. Self-Thematization in Self-Tracking
The lecture examines the cybernetization of the subject in self-tracking. Digital self-tracking is understood first of all as a process that users can use to orient themselves in everyday life. As part of a “therapy and counseling culture” (Burkart 2006: 12), it appears as a new form of self-thematization that addresses cybernetic subjects and thus resembles coaching techniques (Traue 2010, 2013) or advice on happiness (Duttweiler 2007). The cybernetic subject replaces a substance logic with a construction logic. These two logics are in a tense relationship in self-tracking, insofar as on the one hand the image of a data mirror, which shows the user the truth about himself, is familiar, but on the other hand only serves as a starting point for constructions within the framework of the control paradigm.
Hanna Klimpe (Hamburg): Empowerment, Educational Challenges, and Right-Wing Extremism. TikTok Between Theatrical Aesthetics and Algorithmic Censorship
The video app TikTok, launched in 2017, represents a novelty in social media discourse as it is the first globally used platform besides Telegram which was not developed in Silicon Valley. The app, which is owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, was initially considered to be an unpolitical platform, which attracted mostly young people. However, criticism of the app emerged early after leaks showed that content critical of the Chinese government had been censored. LGBTQI* content had also been demonstrably censored.
At the same time, users on TikTok were and are developing various forms of political content. It is striking that especially young women are adopting cultural techniques prevalent on social media, such as dance videos, to raise awareness of domestic abuse. In 2019, 17-year old Feroza Aziz became famous for a pretend makeup tutorial, which outsmarted the recognition algorithm for political content and in which she criticized China’s treatment of the Uighurs. However, extremely misguided and ill-judged content such as the “Holocaust Challenge” or far-right content is also published on TikTok. The structure and mechanisms of political content on TikTok, which represents meme culture like no other app on the World Wide Web, will be discussed in this talk.