Profiles

photograph of Jörgen

Jörgen Skågeby

Universitetslektor

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Works at Department of Media Studies
Telephone 08-16 26 82
Email jorgen.skageby@ims.su.se
Visiting address Karlavägen 104 plan 4-5
Room A5 577
Postal address Institutionen för mediestudier 115 93 Stockholm

About me

Rahm-Skågeby is an associate professor (docent) at the Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University. His research concerns the structures, algorithms, behaviours, and designs of (combinations of) natural, cultural and artificial systems, which store, process, access, and communicate information. General theoretical and practical frameworks of interest include humanistic HCI, media archaeology, and design fiction. He also retains a keen interest in the social, cultural and technical processes that surrounds sharing as a media logic. Skågeby’s work is regularly published in renowned international journals, recently including for example Human-Computer Interation, New Media & Society, Popular Communication, Convergence and Journal of Information Technology.

Research

Media archaeology; interaction criticism; posthumanism; design fiction; cultural/computational attunement; media temporalities, media sharing.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2021. Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby, Anders Carlsson. New Media and Society 23 (4), 732-749

    Several digital spaces are now archiving artifacts from the first 1980s home computer boom. These spaces are not only storages, but also social venues and ‘memory banks’, and thereby depend on several concurrent practices: software and hardware developed to read, run, and preserve computer code; archiving of old software, magazines, and personal stories; contemporary conferences dedicated to retrocomputing; and making artifacts, which used to be private, publically available. The paper argues that retrocomputing can be seen as a foreshadowing in terms of managing collective digital archives, memories, and relationships to digital material. Taking the Commodore 64 Scene Database as a case, this paper 1) engages with both users and cultural techniques, in order to 2) theorize collective digital archives as ‘performative in-betweens’, and 3) discuss how retrocomputing may become a default mode for people seeking access to their digital pasts in a time when planned obsolescence is rampant.

  • 2019. Jörgen Skågeby. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 23 (1), 133-144

    This paper presents the analysis of 292 personal stories of digital media breakdown in everyday life. The analysis identifies significant occurrences (events, incidents, processes, or issues) as identified by informants themselves; the way these occurrences are pragmatically negotiated; and the perceived outcomes in terms of cognitive, affective and behavioural effects. Against a backdrop of techno-optimism, techno-pessimism and technology as experience, the paper proposes four analytical dimensions, or tensions, common in digital media failures: the digital and the material; trust and lack of control; planned obsolescence and desirable updates; and nostalgia and reluctance to go back. While these dimensions indicate a highly ambiguous relation to digital media with the informants, the most striking observation is how the practical solution to these uncertainties is to irrevocably ‘accept and commit’ to being and becoming even more digital. That is, in the face of (a risk of) digital breakdown, individuals argue that more and upgraded digital media is always the best and undisputable response. In the light of these results, some design possibilities are suggested, including designing for nostalgia, designing for comprehensibility, and designing for failing infrastructure resilience.

  • 2021. Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby. Miscommunications, 284-299

    This chapter examines interruptions to flows of mediation. More specifically, it will seek to examine interruptions as cultural techniques (Siegert, 2015), aiming to elucidate their respective ontic operations, cultural functions, and revelations of opportunities for agency. The different interruption techniques studied in this chapter include freezes; static; and requisitions. Naturally, this is only an initial selection, and represents by no means a systematic range of examples. The chapter will trace these techniques across media forms (including TV broadcasts, home computer hacking, and video game streaming). The chapter is based on the fundamental assumption that breakdowns are capable of revealing previously ubiquitous and/or obscured aspects of mediation (James, 1991; Star, 1999) or that they can be productive and innovative sources for communication in their own right.

  • Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby, Lina Rahm. Human-Computer Interaction

    Humanistic research fields such as media archaeology, critical posthumanism, and the environmental humanities, have recently directed attention to the notion of deep time as a perspective providing new analytical and ethical traction on both temporalities and materialities of media technologies. In essence, deep time is concerned with long-term geological processes, taking into account material developments and impacts over long periods of time. Synthesizing insights from HCI research on temporality, materiality, and sustainability with understandings from humanistic deep time research, this paper is a first attempt at articulating the potential of deep time design thinking in HCI. The paper presents three practical ‘sensibilities’ that help designers and HCI researchers to address new classes and timescales of wicked problems.

  • Chapter Biometrics
    2018. Jörgen Skågeby. Encyclopedia of Big Data

    Biometrics refers to measurable and distinct (preferably unique) biological, physiological, or behavioral characteristics. Stored in both commercial and governmental biometric databases, these characteristics are subsequently used to identify and/or label individuals. This entry summarizes common forms of biometrics, their different applications and the societal debate surrounding biometrics, including its connection to big data, as well as its potential benefits and drawbacks.

  • 2018. Jörgen Skågeby. Artnodes: Journal on Art, Science and Technology (21), 127-135

    From the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, many countries experienced a “home computer boom”. The “home computer” (or “micro” as it was colloquially referred to) had become a viable marketing concept because companies, having developed advanced and expensive machines for business, science and engineering applications, now identified a new market segment for more affordable, accessible, and less advanced single-user “home computers”. The domestication of the computer is, naturally, an interesting phase in media history, revealing intermedialities, continuities, and disruptions in the development of digital culture. By analysing home computer marketing as it appears from 1981 to 1985 in magazine advertisements, this paper argues that we can come to a better understanding of the mutually transformative relation between the inherently technical design and language of software and hardware engineering and the ideological and cultural language of computerisation. The key research question for this paper is: How was the inherently technical language, and indeed material operations, of software and hardware engineering transcoded into marketing concepts? Or, in other words, how was human agency and technological agency negotiated through the visual language of marketing? Answering this question will provide insights into how the impending computerisation of society started to take place at an ideological and semiotic level, which in turn is underpinned by the material capacities of media technologies. As a result, the paper identifies three tentative ‘crosscurrents’ where materialities, agencies and discourses are negotiated.

  • 2018. Jörgen Skågeby. Journal of Digital Media & Interaction 1 (1), 7-21

    We live in an age where consumer media technologies are hyped way before most people actually have a chance to engage with a physical product. Still, product representations, such as marketing videos, technical specifications and even software development kits provide certain clues to the capacities and limitations of the physical product in question. Prospective consumers are also increasingly invited to interact with technologies more distant in the future – via for example design fiction videos and technology vloggers. The ‘virtual products’ represented there also entice users to imagine how future interaction would take place (which they vividly do). From this premise, this paper explores what we may call imagined human-machine interaction. Put simply, this entails an interest inthe intentions and concerns that come with engaging with media technologies implicitly – i.e. through representations of different kinds (which may have different underpinning agendas). However, as we shall see, retaining a notion of strict implicitness or immateriality is difficult. Theories around imaginary media, performative prototypes and design fiction challenge any firm separation of material and immaterial technologies, pointing us towards developed studies of imagined human-machine interaction.

  • 2018. Jörgen Skågeby, Lina Rahm. Communication +1 7 (1)

    In a fairly recent blog post, Jussi Parikka discusses how media archaeology can be criticized for being a “boy’s club”. In the introduction of this text, he writes: One of the set critiques of media archaeology is that it is a boys' club. That is a correct evaluation in so many ways when one has a look at the topics as well as authors of the circle of writers broadly understood part of 'media archaeology'. I make the same argument for instance in What is Media Archaeology?, but there is also something else that we need to attend to.

There is however a danger that the critique also neglects the multiplicity inherent in the approach. For sure, there are critical points to be made in so many aspects of Kittler's and others' theoretical work, but at the same time it feels unfair to neglect the various female authors and artists at the core of the field. In other words, the critique often turns a blind eye to the women who are actively involved in media archaeology. Let's not write them out too easily. Parikka then goes on to briefly introduce several female researchers and artists who are active in the media archaeological field. These are women who are, in different ways, doing media archaeology. This is of course an important issue – skewed representations or lopsided citation practices are never good – and the contributions of these researchers are significant and important. However, we could also argue that there is an important difference between the body of work being done by women and, what we may call, feminist media archaeology. There can, of course, be overlaps between these two ways of representing feminist interests in media archaeology, but for feminist theorizing and practising to truly have an impact, we have to ask ourselves what is feminist media archaeology? By looking for empirical gaps and putting questions of, for example, design, power, infrastructure and benefit, to the fore we can shine a different light on the material-discursive genealogy of digital culture, still very much in the vein of media archaeological endeavors. What we suggest is quite simple – a transdisciplinary approach which emphasizes “the unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives [which] points toward our potential to think in terms of frameworks, concepts, techniques, and vocabulary that we have not yet imagined”. As such, we want to take an exploratory tactic to the question posed in the title of this paper. We do not intend to provide a single nor definite answer – rather we want to think with media archaeology and feminism together, seeking to raise other questions in order to find dynamic parallels and crosscurrents.

  • 2018. Jörgen Skågeby. Design and Culture 10 (2), 187-207

    Technologies equipped with artificial intelligence and an agency of their own are becoming increasingly available to consumers. Rather than just augmenting human senses or mediating information, these coactive technologies are mobile, pro-active, context-sensitive, programmable, and agential in the milieu of the user. This paper illustrates a humanistic human–computer interaction (HCI) approach to coactive technologies by analyzing the artificial intelligence (AI) powered robot Cozmo. The analysis demonstrates how Cozmo: 1) remediates fictional characteristics to appear more familiar, emotional, and lovable; 2) is both pre-programmed and programmable, creating an interesting tension in its agential spectrum; and 3) is discursively marketed as a cunning, emotional, and non-machinic accomplice. Referring to established models of human–technology relations, the paper introduces the concept of partner relations, where a coactive human–machine intentionality is negotiated. The paper also discusses potential implications for designers, who must focus on the multitude of partner relations and joint intentionalities that new coactive technologies can engender.

  • 2017. Jörgen Skågeby. Popular Communication, Piracy and Social Change

    What form did file sharing take before the internet’s usage became mainstream, and what practices from that period remain? This article examines a Swedish radio show that broadcast listener-contributed computer code in the mid 1980s. It applies a combined theoretical framework of intermediality and sharing theory and argues that this combination is central to the analysis of piracy and social change. The results indicate an interesting paradox in terms of pushing and pulling content as the practice relied on both in public broadcasting as well as with contributing media users. As such, the case of Datorernas värld prefigures how peer interaction and sharing relies on more centralized and controlled channels of communication. The article historically situates themes such as intermediality, surveillance, gender representation, and piracy and provides a piece of computing history that is topical but, strangely, critically ignored.

  • 2016. Jörgen Skågeby. Confero: Essays on Education, Philosophy and Politics 4 (2), 47-76

    The general question of how our human desires can be supported by media technologies has produced a fairly constant endeavour in human history — and still does, for example in the shape of transhumanist hopes and aspirations. Over time, these desires have often driven development towards an, in the end, materialized technology. Many times, however, the desires have also not resulted in a physical product, but rather remained as ideas, conceptual sketches, or lo-fi prototypes. This essay will examine how such imaginary media technologies can be defined and categorized, why they are important to study, and how the underlying desires seem to be revitalized across centuries and decades. Such questions are of interest to transhumanism as they illustrate how desires, temporal relations, and human-technology relationships have been (and are) imagined both in the past, the present, and towards the future. So, while this essay is not a media archaeological excavation of transhumanist imaginary media only (which would be an interesting project in itself), it is a media genealogy of historically recurring desires to extend, substitute and enhance the human body and mind.

Show all publications by Jörgen Skågeby at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 13, 2021

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