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.
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 ACMSIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 81 – 90. DOI.
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).
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…)
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…)