Data-driven systems do not arrive from nowhere, into the world like magic. Like all technologies their development and deployment follows particular historical trajectories and continuities which are influenced by larger forces. In contrast, most of the research on ‘social impact’ has drawn attention to the micro-effects of Big Data: the invasion of personal privacy, their non-transparency, and how they can lead to unfair discrimination between citizens or consumers.
These framings do not recognize the way in which these larger infrastructures are put into place, but rather assume that the clouds, with all the accompanying labor, material and financial practices, are vast, illegible and inevitable. As a result, possibilities for intervention seem to be limited to tweaking algorithms or putting constraints on data collection and processing, leaving the clouds untouched. In this meeting, we hope to sharpen our research agendas in a way that allows us to identify potential collective inquiries informed by political economic, geopolitical, or techno-infrastructural perspectives to engage the cloud.