In the new data driven, algorithmic cultures of ICT for Development, the subject appears in the dialectics of connected and not-yet connected. Following the earlier tropes of visible and invisible, speaking and silent subjects, this focus on the subject follows an expected script where the promise of the digital is to make the unconnected subject connected. Disguised in the language of universal access, ubiquitous computing, and participatory engagement, the processes of connectivity presume only the binary positions of the subject who has to be connected. In this discourse, what is often undertheorised, or not even recognised is the idea of the disconnected subject – the subject who has been put into conditions of connectivity, and then is either disconnected through acts of censorship and control, or chooses to disconnect for personal reasons. The power of political disconnectedness, and the poetics of resistance that this reticence produces to our big data driven futures, needs to be examined, particularly in the face of growing control on political participation and action. Drawing from two case-studies of social movements in India and Hong Kong, this talk draws attention to the new forms of resistances and appropriations that emerge against the hypervisualised data subject of the contemporary moment.
Nishant Shah is a Guest Professor at the Institute for the Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Leuphana University, Germany, and the Dean-Research at ArtEZ university of the arts, The Netherlands.