Newcastle APL Talk

Talk­ing to the good peo­ple at New­castle’s School of Archi­tec­ture, Plan­ning & Land­scape (APL), I got the chance yes­ter­day to devel­op and share my slow­ly evolv­ing thoughts on bike jour­neys, bod­ies and fabulations.

Liv­ing Fruit­ful­ly in/with the con­di­tions of (im-) possibilty


In this talk, I want to revis­it a piece I wrote in 2016. The piece, a chap­ter in Dawn Nafus’ book Quan­ti­fied (2016), was intend­ed as a sto­ry of promise, a fab­u­la­tion about London’s bike rental scheme and how it might be used to re-imag­ine new fig­ur­ings of human-machine rela­tions. Think­ing across, askew, or “athwart” (Hus­tak & Myers 2013), my exper­i­ment­ing with the rela­tion­al capac­i­ties of bicy­cles, a city, (bio)sensing and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of data-every­where, aimed to resist the “agen­cies of homog­e­niza­tion” (Scott 1998) to explore the con­di­tions of pos­si­bil­i­ty for oth­er world­ings (Har­away 2016).

Reflect­ing on this work, I’ve felt a dis­sat­is­fac­tion with my efforts to throw togeth­er mix­tures of data at all scales, with the attempts at thick­en­ing and enliven­ing the rela­tions. It all felt too flat, too lack­ing in vital­i­ty. So, at the risk of appear­ing self indul­gent, this talk will present some ear­ly ideas for a dif­fer­ent sto­ry woven in and through the thick­et of rela­tions. Strug­gling to weave myself into London’s lega­cy with slav­ery and the vio­lent era­sures of bod­ies and agency (Hart­man 2008), I’ll be try­ing to place myself at a much more frag­ile and ten­u­ous junc­ture of space-time, but at the same time still seek­ing to work fruit­ful­ly in/with the con­di­tions of (im-)possibility.

Paper presented at Assets

I’m very hap­py to have been a part of the work lead­ing up to a paper pre­sent­ed at Assets 2017, the ACM con­fer­ence on Acces­si­ble Com­put­ing. Report­ing on work from a group of us at Microsoft Research, the paper describes an ori­en­ta­tion to our stud­ies with the blind and vision impaired.

Ceci­ly Mor­ri­son, Edward Cutrell, Anu­pa­ma Dharesh­war, Kevin Doher­ty, Anja Thieme, and Alex Tay­lor. 2017. Imag­in­ing Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Appli­ca­tions with Peo­ple with Visu­al Dis­abil­i­ties using Tac­tile Ideation. In Pro­ceed­ings of the 19th Inter­na­tion­al ACM SIGACCESS Con­fer­ence on Com­put­ers and Acces­si­bil­i­ty (ASSETS ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 81–90. DOI.


Paper at 4S 2017

I’m thrilled to have our paper sub­mis­sion accept­ed to the . Cyn­thia Ben­nett and I will be busi­ly prepar­ing our paper for the always amaz­ing event, this year in August/September in Boston.

A care for being
more (cap-)able

Cyn­thia Ben­nett and Alex Taylor

In this paper, we begin with Ingunn Moser’s and Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s gen­er­a­tive notions of care and use them to expand how we under­stand capa­bil­i­ty. Draw­ing on field­work with blind and vision impaired peo­ple, we turn our atten­tion to a mate­ri­al­ly enact­ed, unfold­ing ‘sense-abil­i­ty’. This is a sens­ing that puts (cap)ability and care togeth­er, that under­stands ‘see­ing-in-the-world’ as a prac­ti­cal affair that is, at once, know­ing, effect­ing and affect­ing with oth­ers (humans or oth­er­wise). Thus, we show not only that care can con­test an ‘instru­men­tal­ism’ in forms of know­ing and doing—by ‘re-affect­ing objec­ti­fied worlds’ (Puig de la Bel­la­casa, 2011: 98)—but also give a greater clar­i­ty to how care can be, in prac­tice, entan­gled in prac­tice. This sense-abil­i­ty seeks to be active, enliven­ing how we become capa­ble; it is fig­ured to be worked with, not finite and dic­tat­ed by assumed bod­i­ly lim­its, but open to becom­ing-with and becom­ing-more. Bor­row­ing from Vin­ciane Despret, this sense-abil­i­ty is “to gain a body that does more things, that feels oth­er events, and that is more and more able…” (2004: 120).

Despret, V. (2004). The Body We Care For: Fig­ures of Anthro­po-zoo-gen­e­sis. Body & Soci­ety, 10(2–3), 111–134.
Moser, I. (2011). Demen­tia and the Lim­its to Life. ST&HV, 36(5), 704–722.
Puig de la Bel­la­casa, M. (2011). Mat­ters of Care in Techno­science. Social Stud­ies of Sci­ence, 41(1), 85–106.

4S is the Soci­ety for the Social Stud­ies of Sci­ence. The annu­al meet­ing details are here.

Paper presented at 4S/EASST meeting

At the com­bined 4S/EASST meet­ing this year, Sarah Kem­ber and I pre­sent­ed a paper titled:

Writer­ly (ac)counts of finite flour­ish­ings and pos­si­bly bet­ter ways of being together

As Sarah’s intro­duc­tion to the paper out­lined, our co-writ­ings were an attempt to think with the emerg­ing strate­gies of fem­i­nist count­ing, account­ing and re-counting.
Below, I present my part to the co-authered piece. It’s long, so I put it here more for the record than any expec­ta­tion it will be read. I must add that the ideas I present draw on work done by . With­out her ener­gy and always thought­ful invest­ment in the field site, this reflec­tion would not have been pos­si­ble: (more…)

… work­ing from Newcastle’s Open Lab

Artificial Intelligence: asking the right questions

Nes­ta kind­ly invit­ed me to one of their ‘hot top­ics’ events a cou­ple of weeks ago to present a provo­ca­tion on AI and human-com­put­er inter­ac­tion. They also asked for me to write a few words that they’ve now pub­lished on the “TheLong+Short” blog here. I append the orig­i­nal text to my provo­ca­tion below.
I came across this pho­to on my com­put­er today (sor­ry, I’ve looked to see if I can attribute it to some­one, but so far failed). It’s a love­ly image in it’s own right, play­ing with a vin­tage qual­i­ty to the future, but in this con­text I think it does invite the ques­tion ‘is this the lim­it of our imag­i­na­tions?’ I’d like to sug­gest AI might open us up to so much more. (more…)