Evgeny Morozov: In Search of Digital Agency

Democracy, Autonomy, and Power in a World Beyond Silicon Valley

27 May 2021
20:00 — 21:00

Location: Online programme

With virtually everything we do, including our interactions with public services and infrastructures, we produce data. But as citizens we have little knowledge and control over how our data are used — and by whom. On 27 May, we present a presentation and live Q&A with writer, researcher, and intellectual Evgeny Morozov about how to reclaim digital agency and ownership over our data, how to shift the paradigm from solutionism to obsoletism, and how to radically empower digital citizens.

Much of the contemporary digital debate seems to be stuck between the narratives of absolute empowerment through neoliberalism – mostly by means of boutique and ubiquitous digital markets a la Uber and Airbnb – and the narratives of absolute domination through surveillance capitalism – where our every move is not only tracked but actually pre-programmed. The former promise to give us back control but at the cost of ultimate submission to the logic of the market; the latter, while painting a darker picture, suggest that a more humane, less intrusive capitalism might restore our agency. Is that all that the digital modernity offers us? In this talk, I’ll outline the broad contours of a very different political agenda that seeks to redeploy the vast potentials of digital infrastructures towards the goals of enhancing democratic agency, boosting autonomy, and facilitating individual and collective becoming and discovery.

The presentation and live Q&A are part of the IMPAKT webproject We Are Data. This online, ongoing project is the result of a collaboration between IMPAKT and Cairotronica in Egypt to explore the ways in which we are both users and used in our data-driven society. Through art projects, workshops, exhibitions and talks, We Are Data looks how we can support creativity, autonomy and agency in this world. The webproject was launched during the Cairotronica Festival 2021. We Are Data is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Arab Studies Institute (ASI).

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