Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed by Bharath Sivakumar, Rakshita Siva, and Deepak Prince for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List.


Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List - Call for Sessions

Session Plan

We would, as a starting point like to consider the conditions of possibility for the ‘list’ to emerge as the core thematic for this year’s Internet Researchers’ Conference. The proposal call provides several motivating questions and anchoring reasons foregrounding the list as an object for analysis and discussion. Broadly these may be divided along two lines - one pertaining to the qualities of the list (who makes it, why are they ephemeral, what makes lists this or that) and the other pointing to certain critical questions that emerge on our political landscape, with the list or practices of listing central to this politics.

Segment 1 [15 minutes]

In our session, the first item on the agenda (this also is a list!) is an outline of the way lists are thought of in 2 contexts:

  1. Bureaucratic processing/management (lists and their relationship to documents, files in offices, and also, everyday lists such as shopping lists).

  2. List as a technological object in networked technological systems ie the list-interface.

The late media theorist Cornelia Vismann is our guide among others, including Umberto Eco and Foucault’s notion of the ‘statement’.

Segment 2 [15 minutes x 3 => 45 minutes]

In the second part of our proceedings, we would like to consider 3 problems pertaining to the list:

  1. ‘List’ as a mode of presentation in various user-interfaces, such as the whatsapp screen and its relationship to the subjective experience of time : It's winter and you've opened the Amazon app to buy one winter jacket. You open the app on your phone and begin to search for one, only to realize you've been endlessly scrolling for the last half an hour looking for jackets without buying a single one and if your friend hadn't called you to break you out of that flow, you would have most probably continued to scroll for another half an hour. I could make a similar point about how you keep scrolling through Instagram endlessly without stopping or how you similarly keep scrolling endlessly through Netflix or YouTube videos without touching to watch a single one. A common theme that connects these interfaces is their "no dead end" feature. They are arranged in the form of “lists” keep going on without a stop, structuring the user’s experience of subjective time.

  2. The #MeToo movement is, as the proposal call says, a few years old, but it is only with the publishing of this list that it erupts into the terrain of the political, at least within the context of academic institutions. We would like to examine the conditions that make this political emergence possible. As first pass, we will note here that the #LoSHA is a list that refuses to process (Other facebook posts for example, are read, ‘liked’ or commented on and then passed over, ie processed).

  3. Social media platforms - sites of media exchange are organized structurally as lists. There’s a list of posts, responses to ‘posts’ are also lists and even interactive features are available as lists -“Like, Share and Subscribe” at the end of a youtube video for example. On Facebook, audiences would be asked to “Like, Comment and Share” in that order of increasing activity. In the recent past, “Likes” have been expanded further to “reacts” which gives a list of “reacts” (including emotions, example-sad), a list or sequence of sentiments which people use to register their response. Similarly, there are such structures present in the forms of lists across platforms, built into the keyboard to be able to structure our immediate response or sentiment (emoticons, stickers gifs etc). These are attempts to codify emotion or more broadly, affect. The 3rd problematique in our panel will consider the process of structuring affect in online environments through the listing of signs such as the ‘like’, the ‘react’ etc.

Segment 3 [30 minutes]

Following our presentation of these problems and modes of analytically situating ‘lists’ in everyday practices in online spaces, we will open the floor for discussion.

Session Team

Bharath Sivakumar graduated with a B.Sc (Research) degree in mathematics from Shiv Nadar University and currently works for Loonycorn where he's part of the team that creates technical courses. He has eclectic tastes ranging from mathematics to philosophy to Anthropology and feels at home in the hills. He enjoys trekking, loves performing on stage and aspires to be a stand up comedian one day.

Rakshita Siva is a researcher at IIIT Bangalore in the faculty of Digital Society. She graduated with a Mechanical engineering major and a minor in Sociology from Shiv Nadar University. Her interests relate to the digital, questions of self, interiority and the psyche. Rakshita is a singer and enjoys a good jam.

Deepak Prince is a course instructor and Phd candidate in the Department of Sociology, School of Humanities and Social sciences at SNU. His thesis research seeks to grapple with the 'explosion' of smartphones and touchscreens in practices of everyday sociality through the conceptual categories of the screen and the interface. Deepak's key research interest revolves around technics, the history and philosophy of technical objects. He also takes an interest in questions of anthropological disciplinarity, the history of ideas and political anthropology.


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