Piecing People: Personal Data and the Craft of Digital Labor | Introducing Stephen Monteiro’s contribution for rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me)

Contemporary digital interactivity relies on techniques and strategies drawn from craft culture as we readily piece together scraps of data to contribute to larger assemblages. Essential to the economy of networked participatory media, this labor is extracted under the guise of leisure and entertainment. More and more, however, the value derived from these activities is found not only in the data of production and consumption, but also in the regular collection and analysis of our corollary biometric and medical data. Whether through apps for exercise quantification, physiological monitoring, or nutritional intake, or product features such as fingerprint and facial recognition locks, or genetic mapping for genealogical databases, our bodies increasingly are becoming the base material through which we shape our digital existence and relevance. What is the potential relationship between this data collection and craft-based models of interface? How has increasingly invasive biometric and medical data harvesting exploited the informal, interpersonal, and collaborative nature of collective on-line creation? In responding to these questions, this presentation argues that just as crafts have often connoted generosity and sharing, craft-like digital practices can encourage participants to give more of themselves—both in terms of their labor and their physical and medical data—as evidence of their networked social commitment and viability.

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