Wednesday, September 9 // 2:00PM ET
Bad Company
Moderated by Apryl Williams
We use metaphors to get a grasp on the more intangible aspects of technology. From the ruthless loyalty demanded by startups to the rhythmic nature of a life shot through with technology, we reach for more familiar language like cults, music, immune systems and religion to understand our new society.
Can We Call A Startup A ‘Cult’?
Adam Willems
The cultural power of startups is certainly a cause for alarm: they make striking claims to power through their founding stories and leaders, and, especially when they grow into massive tech companies, their values play a formative role in shaping the childhood experiences and embedded theologies of coming generations. But startups are not cults; in fact, the grave harms committed by the anti-cult movement should compel us to eschew the use of “cult” as a label in any context. Sustainable confrontations of startups’ harmful practices must avoid emphasizing “cult”-like alterity or unprecedented characteristics, and instead connect startups’ beliefs and practices to those of larger historical and economic trends.
Ordering the (anti)social: How the advertising industry orders your mediated experience
Elinor Carmi
In this talk I’m proposing a new media power theoretical framework which uses two sound concepts – processed listening and rhythmedia. Sound is better suited for networked territories like the web because of its ability to cross boundaries ofactors (users, workers, and nonhumans), spaces, channels and temporalities. As a case study I examine the web standardization process in the European Union (EU) in the early 2000s and show how the digital advertising industry and tech companies standardized different categories of behaviour, catering for their business models.
Adam Willems (@functionaladam)
Adam Willems studies religion and economy at Union Theological Seminary. They write Divine Innovation, a newsletter on the spiritual world of technology.
Elinor Carmi (@Elinor_Carmi)
Elinor Carmi is a feminist, researcher, journalist and digital rights advocate, who has been working on deviant media, internet standards, sound studies, and internet governance. Her 2nd book Media Distortions: Understanding the Power Behind Spam, Noise and Other Deviant Media will be out in early 2020 on Peter Lang.
Apryl Williams (@AprylW)
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Susquehanna University. Her research focuses on race, gender, popular culture, identity, social media, and technology.