TiP Talk by Jennifer Gabrys: How to Do Things with Sensors

The Technologies in Practice (TiP) research group at the ITU is happy to present Jennifer Gabrys, Professor of Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, as our next speaker in our TiP Talk Speaker Series.

As a point of departure for her talk, Jennifer Gabrys will look into the increasing use of sensors for citizen-sensing projects and the wider movement toward the how-to and the do-it-yourself. 

From YouTube videos providing instruction on how to troubleshoot the use of microcontrollers, to handbooks for using and abusing sensors and the Internet of Things, to forums and Instructables for programming sensors, the how-to genres and formats of digital instruction continue to expand and develop.

How-to guides and instructions are integral to computation, and increasingly also are central to the formatting of social and political practices. As the how-to proliferates, and instructions unfold through every aspect of the computational, it would seem worthwhile to ask why the how-to has become one of the prevailing genres of the digital. Why the guide, why now, why in this format?

This talk will explore the ways in which things are made do-able with and through sensors. It further considers how worlds are made sense-able and actionable through the instructional mode of citizen-sensing projects. 

Bio:

Jennifer Gabrys is Professor of Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is Principal Investigator on the projects Citizen Sense and AirKit, both funded by the European Research Council. She is author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016); and Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (2011), and co-editor of Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic (Routledge, 2013). Her work can be found at citizensense.net and jennifergabrys.net.

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