Drone Logic: Distributed, Ubiquitous Monitoring and the “Big Data” Deluge

Event Date: 

Friday, February 6, 2015 - 2:00pm

Mark Andrejevic

The presentation is not about drones, per se (that is, the armed surveillance devices used in contemporary forms of asymmetrical warfare), but about what might be described as drone logic: the deployment of ubiquitous, always-on networked sensors for the purposes of automated data collection, processing, and response. It treats the drone as an avatar of the emerging logic of increasingly passive interactivity. Thus, the goal of the project and its contribution is to reframe theoretical approaches to interactivity in the digital era to take into account the ways it is being embedded, passive, distributed, mobile, and reliant upon quasi-centralized infrastructures for data sharing, processing, and deployment. The figure of the drone is useful both because it offers a highly visible and controversial example of the deployment of networked surveillance and quasi-automated response, but also because it suggests the ways in which the implementation of drone logic across disparate spheres of social practice partakes of the military-inflected rationalization of everyday life. Drone theory outlines a theoretical approach to the social implications of the “droning” of daily interactions and because it simultaneously critiques recent developments in theory that wittingly or not are not aligning themselves with the forms of knowledge and action anticipated by automated forms of information collection, processing, and response. Thus, the presentation foreshadows a social-theoretical critique of the embrace of drone logic in both the practical and theoretical realms.

Bio: Mark Andrejevic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at Pomona College. He is interested in the ways in which forms of surveillance and monitoring enabled by the development of new media technologies and ‘informational excess’ impact the realms of economics, politics, and culture. He writes on surveillance, popular culture, and digital media and is the author of: Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched(2004), iSpy: Surveillance and power in the interactive era (2007) and Infoglut: how too much information is changing the way we think and know (2013).