Infinite Detail is a smart and timely contribution to speculative technology that imagines a future naturally extended from our current, global state of digital reliance and surveillance. Cyberterrorists fed up with what feels like empty gestures on a digital battleground decide to complete their war against the corporations and governments controlling the internet by destroying the whole thing.
Maughan explores how we get to that point, the mixture of idealism, iconoclasm, and finally insurrection. And then, what happens next? Maughan offers us fragments, snapshots, and keyholes through which try to ascertain what survives the crash, what forms of power fill the void left when our global, electronic infrastructure simply vanishes. Together we ask: What don’t we now know? What new mythologies form? What new geopolitical lines get drawn and by whom? How many will die in this revolution?
Overall, the book is a well-written and cohesive. Like many “big idea” books in science or speculative fiction, Maughan’s characters are only as complex as necessary to keep us thinking about the questions. They aren’t on an arc. We don’t really identify with them. The goal is for us the readers to grapple with the reality presented in the book. The construction of the book is slices of “Before” and “After” set up contrasts and create a mystery-like feel to the novel as we slowly piece together the details of what has happened/is happening and why. The book offers a nice companion to recent nonfiction like The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. As I began, it is a timely book. I recommend reading it before its speculations start merging with real reality.
S. Chowdhary, S. Daitzman, R. Eisenbud, E. Pan and E. Graeff, “Care and Liberation in Creating a Student-Led Public Interest Technology Clinic,” 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), 2020, pp. 164-175, doi: 10.1109/ISTAS50296.2020.9462188.
The emerging field of Public Interest Technology contains the seeds for an engineering practice that embodies the ethic of care and undergraduate engineering educational experiences in the mold of liberatory education. We realized these opportunities by creating an undergraduate, student-led public interest technology clinic. Using autoethnography, we reflect on our effort to create the clinic and find that we prioritized emotions and relationships, embraced slowness and deliberation, and claimed student ownership. These practices define public interest technology and redefine engineering in ways centering care and equity, which enabled us to create the inclusive and effective engineering and public interest technology educational experiences we wanted for ourselves.
Devansh Saxena, Erhardt Graeff, Shion Guha, EunJeong Cheon, Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar, Dawn Walker, Christoph Becker, and Kenneth R. Fleischmann. 2020. Collective Organizing and Social Responsibility at CSCW. In Conference Companion Publication of the 2020 on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW ’20 Companion). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 503–509. https://doi.org/10.1145/3406865.3418593
The CSCW community has long discussed the ethics and politics of sociotechnical systems and how they become embedded in society and public policy. In light of the Black Lives Matter protests and Hong Kong protests, technologies such as facial recognition and contact tracing have re-invigorated conversations about the ethical and social responsibility of tech corporations, tech workers, and academics in science and technology. The goal of this workshop is to move beyond a call for the usual suspects of participatory design and human-centered design by committing to concrete steps to transform society through advocacy and activism.