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Shannon Mattern Lecture: Data Fantasies and Operational Facts

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Birkbeck, University of London

Keynes Library

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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Shannon Mattern (The New School, NY)

Data fantasies and operational facts: 5G’s infrastructural epistemologies

The “5G Revolution” promises to deliver lightning-speed connections, immersive entertainment, seamlessly connected sentient things and city systems, high-precision geolocation, and “last mile” coverage for those who’ve historically been marginalized. Yet the realization of such a datafied dreamworld, where everyone and everything is networked, depends upon cables and trenches, processors and poles. And those material facts are filtered through spatial politics and paranoias at various scales: personal, local, national, and global. In this talk I’ll discuss how 5G’s infrastructural artifacts, as they’re implanted around the world, are called upon to serve multiple functions: as promissory notes of immanent progress; as political tools for private development and deregulation, for nationalization or global domination; and, for some skeptics, as harbingers of invasion – of our communities, homes, and bodies.

Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities, Deep Mapping the Media City, and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media.


This talk is part of the ongoing Data Materiality three-year collaborative reasearch project co-sponsored by the Birkbeck Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture, and the Vasari Centre for Art and Technology and organized by Dr. Joel McKim and Dr. Scott Rodgers.

Data Materiality

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Birkbeck, University of London

Keynes Library

43 Gordon Square

London

WC1H 0PD

United Kingdom

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