What Is a User? Use and Transdividuality on a Platformised Earth

Saturday, 7 October 2023, 12 to 4 pm, diffrakt | centre for theoretical periphery

Conversations with
Zenobio Almeida | Mariana Caldas | Martina Cavalot | José Antonio Magalhães | Enda O’Riordan | Glenda Vicenzi

We seem today to be governed less and less as individuals, persons or citizens, and more and more as users of this and that device, application or platform. Our received idea of use tends to imply instrumentality: a tool used as a means to its user’s ends. However, platform users can be said to be used by platforms just as much as they use them. Their use of applications becomes the milieu from which platforms extract the vast amounts of data that allow the latter both to intervene strategically on users’ conducts and to develop superhuman (govern)mental capabilities.

From another perspective, use may also be understood as a mode of inhabiting that contrasts with those of production, consumption, appropriation, and even action, subverting the means-ends relation in terms of a pure means. This notion of use connects to that of transindividuality, which displaces the comprehension of the individual from anthropocentric, self-conscious, autonomous and self-owning conceptions.

In a context of platform capitalism, posthuman intelligence/governance, and ecological catastrophe, what does it mean to be a user? What kind of sensible engagements are available to the user? And how does the user position challenge individuality and subjectivity?

12 pm – I What Is a User?
Zenobio Almeida
Mariana Caldas
José Antonio Magalhães

1.30 pm – break

2.30 pm – II Individuality, Transindividuality or Transdividuality?
Martina Cavalot
Enda O’Riordan
Glenda Vicenzi