Fantasy technology and everyday magic & Peer-to-Peer Pressure: A Closer Look at the Cult of Connection

Two talks on the sharing economy.

Fantasy technology and everyday magic

We enjoy things that give us scope to imagine, and when we are enjoying ourselves, we do everything better. So, fantasy is not simply an escape: it's an interpreter. The history of consumer technology is a history of erasure of imagination: before everything was 'shareable' and plastered in advertising, before we were online, before we all worked for Google, we had the potential to escape corporate influence and fantasy was an end in itself. Today's tech scene began with kids staring in wonder at flashing cursors. My work is about helping adults to rediscover this positive relationship with technology, to recapture the exceptional power they already hold to magic things out of thin air. When all the doors are closed, fantasy flies in on a Unicorn.

Leila Johnston is an artist, curator and publisher producing live show and magazine Hack Circus which explores ideas around speculative science, subversive tech, psychology etc in a fun and often audacious way. Resident at Site Gallery, Sheffield (The Happenstance Project, 2012) and in 2014, Lighthouse , Brighton and took part in Future Everything/The British Council's "Global Futr Lab" residency in February 2015. Associate at Caper writes books and humour, and magazine articles for WIRED UK and Creative Review. Given talks on everything from boredom on the Starship Enterprise to creativity in the James Cameron Terminator films. Spoken at TEDx events, Ada Lovelace Day Live, The Royal Institution, The Royal Academy of Arts, RiscOS User Group of London, and many other places.

Peer-to-Peer Pressure: A Closer Look at the Cult of Connection

As Mark Goodman puts it, 'From their parents' posting of their first in utero sonogram until the disconnection of their Internet-enabled pacemaker more than a hundred years later, every moment from birth to death will be digitally chronicled and preserved in the cloud for perpetuity. We're all aware of the wonders of the networked age. But does the Cult of Connection also affect our lives in worryingly intimate ways?

Ask the couple who woke up to find a strange man talking to them through their networked baby monitor, an example of emerging networked crime (it's now possible to hack the pacemaker inside someone's body). The annual revenue of the advertising data broker industry is twice the size of the U.S. government's intelligence budget, leading to a marketing 'dataveillance' state that sees nothing wrong in scraping for private medical records or targeting rape victims with special promotions. 'Zuckerberg's law', the commercial imperative to connect, is creating the total monetization of conversation and mental space; new apps are proposing to advertise inside our personal memories. As the lifestyle of 24/7 connection produces new dysfunctions such as 'ringxiety' and 'text neck', is it time to rethink the way we're wiring the world?

Dale Lately is a journalist who has written on the social implications of the networked world for The Guardian, VICE, 3:AM, OpenDemocracy, Pop Matters, Quietus, Litro, as well as an ongoing series for the Baffler magazine.

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