University Of Tasmania
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Defining the informatic person : exploring how socio-technical relationships are created and negotiated in informatic contexts

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:13 authored by Lee, AJ
Societies have become informatic in nature, with patterns of living that emerge from and depend upon access to large data banks and instantaneous transmission of messages‚ÄövÑvp (Hayles 1999:313). This thesis explores the social relationships and practices that emerge around informatic trends. To capture recent developments a novel conceptualisation, that of Informatic Context and Informatic Persons, is proposed. The Informatic Context is the context of data and data technologies in contemporary society, and is defined by the presence of Data Interfaces (that connect individuals to digital contexts), Data Circulation (trends in the movement and storage of data), and Data Abstraction (data manipulation practices). Informatic Persons are those who reside within this context. Using these concepts, this thesis asks what does it mean to be an Informatic Person, and live in an Informatic Context? It explores the kinds of relationships (between humans, nonhumans, or combinations of) assembled while living in the Informatic Context, and how Informatic Persons negotiate and manages these. A qualitative methodology is adopted to achieve this. A sample of twenty two, affluent technology users participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews to collect data. Results were conceptualised using Irwin and Michael's (2003) theory of Ethno-Epistemic Assemblages. The adoption of informatic technologies, learning skills and technology, risks and surveillance, the benefits of living with Informatic Technologies, and tensions with nonhuman actors are identified as salient relationships that Informatic Persons negotiate. The original contribution of this research is in the identification of how these relationships are highly scalable, and negotiated through narratives of control. Digital mediations have the potential to change the scale of relationships, connecting any interactions to broader socio-technical contexts. These relationships are managed through a narrative of control, with Informatic Persons emphasising their heightened capacity for controlling life through the Informatic Context, despite the limitations of individual agency and technology.


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