rpTEN Speaker Eleanor Saitta: Artist, Hacker, Barbarian

Eleanor Saitta is a self-described barbarian and professional security expert. She looks to understand complex systems, redesign them or let them fail, gently.

Eleanor Saitta usually writes about security issues, yet her latest article focuses on "Infrastructural Games and Society Play". However, it's not that she's drifting from her engineering roots. Rather, her new article is strongly linked to how she thinks about security. She reasons that games should be designed to function as tools for diagnosis and learning. Socio-technological developments are the key to creating to social dynamics, in which we want to live.

She also is on the advisory board at International Modern Media Institute (IMMI). In this capacity, she analyses political statements and documents for personal and collaborative projects and consults on public and press enquiries and financing.

Eleanor's research interest is in the penetration of all forms of life by digital technology. She looks at the effects of media technology on society, as well as on modern capitalism. For example, she concludes that past surveillance technologies were less of a threat but rather luxury items for personal convenience. In an interview with Spreeblick in 2010, she commented that: "[With surveillance] there is always a very tight class linking. The beneficiaries of surveillance are better off, better connected, have paid for it. Even with surveillance in public spaces, that's nominally there to stop crime, - people who are benefiting from surveillance are disproportionately better off."

Those thoughts are carried forward into her latest publication. She has taken her line of thought from the social aspects of surveillance to the social aspects of shared knowledge creation and information sharing. In her talk at Creative Time Summit 2015, she discussed spaces, in which knowledge can be collectively gained and experienced. One could think that it was an ovation to the internet as the endless information resource machine. However, from the get-to, Eleanor made it clear that online or offline is (no longer) of great importance, despite concepts of “community”, “knowledge” and “sharing” having their roots in the internet. The question remains whether the vision of collective learning has to be intrinsically linked to tech-ideologies.

How far virtual methods, online themes and models can effect and deliver outcomes for offline learning will be the key topic for Eleanor's talk at re:publica 2016.


Photo credit: Eleanor Saitta