Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profile: Danny Weston

Danny is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Greenwich funded by the RCUK DE project, applying Actor Network Theory to ‘Bots’. He also has an interest in Floridi’s ‘Philosophy of Information’ and ‘Information Ethics’, Computational epistemology and social media.  Whilst his academic background is in philosophy and politics he has also spent nearly a decade working in IT roles. This has included working on electronic trading systems on investment bank trade floors, supporting a community of online tutors for UFI and teaching computer forensics, digital enterprise and computer ethics.

How are digital technologies transforming our lives?

On the difficult side – forcing us to think and act in digital ways; which inevitably means often squeezing the analogue into discrete digital packages. Then there is the scattering of our attention – though that is as much about the means of delivery (mobile devices, email etc) as it is about being digital’. Also there’s the enormous amounts of data that can be used for passive mass dataveillance. On the positive side – freeing us from unnecessary labour and enabling greater levels of creativity for a much wider range of people (think ‘Web 2.0’ etc) and providing enormous amounts of data that could be used for accountability, transparency and self-reflexivity.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Each technology fundamentally presents you with a choice: there have been debates in recent years for example as to whether Google makes people ‘dumber’ or ‘smarter’. It’s a choice. You can use Google to look into the minutae of a celebrity’s life or you can use it to find e-learning resources on theoretical physics. The choice is yours.

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

No not necessarily. We’re a bit fixated on communication – which of course is important, but digital technologies can be used in many innovative ways that don’t require the hand-holding of constant connection with everyone else via the internet.