CfP: Automating the Everyday

Automating the Everyday

A symposium hosted by the QUT Digital Media Research Centre | @qutdmrc

8-9 December 2016
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Along with related concepts and trends like artificial intelligence (AI), the algorithmic turn, and big data, automation is central to contemporary discourses of and debates about digital transformation. The entanglement of digital media technologies with material culture, the workplace, and the domestic sphere means our everyday lives are coming into contact with automation as well.

But what do we mean when we say ‘automation’ – does it encompass algorithms, sensor networks, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacture, and interoperability? What histories and pre-histories of automation and everyday life might we need to take account of? How are past robotic imaginaries shaping the present—in science and technology and in science fiction alike? Does the current preoccupation with automation signal the endurance of these earlier imaginaries, does it mark a moment of disruption, or does it simply coincide with an industrial pivot on behalf of Silicon Valley toward these areas of innovation, and an accompanying wave of hype? When does the appearance of automation work to elide or obscure various forms of manual, affective and immaterial labour?

In this two-day symposium, we invite theoretical and empirical papers that engage with these and other questions, particularly as they intersect with the experience and politics of digital media technologies with everyday life, work and consumption.

Themes and topics that might be covered include:

– Automation and the home (e.g., the Internet of Things)

– Automation and work (e.g., mechanisation vs automation, microtasking, microsurveillance, and time management)

– Automation and locative media, wayfinding and transport

– Automation and AI in service and consumption, (Siri, customer service chatbots, ‘automated’ checkout, drone deliveries)

– Sex, romance and robotics

– Automated content curation and communication in digital and social media

– Health, fitness and assisted living

Submission process and key dates

Please submit paper proposals to  by 30 June 2016. Proposals should include an abstract of 250–400 words along with a brief bio of no more than 100 words. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by 15 July 2016. Draft papers (3000–4000 words) of accepted presentations are to be submitted by 18 November 2016 for sharing and discussion among symposium participants.

Following the symposium, presenters will be invited to submit full-length papers to be considered for publication as part of a themed collection. We are approaching major international cultural and media studies journals with a proposal for a special issue on the symposium theme.


Prof. Jean Burgess (QUT Digital Media Research Centre)
Dr Peta Mitchell (QUT Digital Media Research Centre)
Dr Tim Highfield (QUT Digital Media Research Centre)

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