On Friday, 7.9.19, we opened the second season of DRS seminars with two talks that span over 100 years of ICT development in their attempt to answer one question – how can we capture the contingencies of new technologies?
Dr. Brendan Humphreys, a political historian from the University of Helsinki, started his talk by reminding the audience of the fact that as a “boring historian” one has to admit that “nothing is new” – or at least not as new as one may think. “Lenin’s Tweets: the Telegram Seen from the Age of Social Media” is a provocative exploration of the telegram vs the social media, in particular, Twitter. Lenin’s telegrams were short, quite often aggressive in tone, and they were reported in the mainstream media (newspapers) as a source – not unlike tweets of some politicians today. At the same time, the ‘like and repost’ features enables by the modern technology were not present 100 years ago. Nevertheless, it is useful to think that the politics of short public statements is not peculiar to our digital age. Rather, it has been re-shaped through social media.
The Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute and a senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography Dr. Wladimir Sgibnev is interested in production of space, peripheral urban regions, and mobility in the post-Soviet area. His current research focuses on the marshrutkas, private urban mini-buses, as a major and highly contested mobility phenomenon throughout the former Soviet Union, which has barely received any academic attention so far. His talk titled “The Dark Side of Digitalisation. Spatial Justice and Informal Transport in the Age of Uber” investigated the impact of digitalisation on marshrutka drivers’ working environments and passenger travel conditions. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Central Asia, Dr. Sgibnev demonstrated that while digitalisation may be seen as a positive trend that allows to formalise and order the messiness of marshrutkas – in terms of routes, finances, and governance – it may have unexpected consequences for mobility justice.