A Center for 21st Century Studies Conference
May 2-4, 2013
At least since the 1980s, the digital has been the occasion for enthusiastic, often utopian, dreams. In almost every area of human and nonhuman endeavor—finance, consumer culture, technoscience, education, medicine, communication, or the arts—digital technologies have been heralded as revolutionary if not redemptive. But there has always been a dark side to such digital enthusiasm—dark places that scholars of the digital tend to overlook as they illuminate new fields and paths; dark practices that intensify social inequalities and accelerate environmental destruction; and dark politics that often remain obscure to global media users. Devastating labor conditions at factories like FoxConn in China are exacerbated by the appetite for next generation iPhones or iPads. Securitization and data mining are fueled by the eagerness of contemporary media users to share their search patterns, location, and affective labor. And the environmental destruction from disposing the hazardous waste of still functioning but outmoded media devices, or mining for the precious metals that the continued production of these new devices require, is mostly invisible to the consumers of new tablets, mobile phones, HD monitors, and netbooks.