Home / Events / Alessandro Delfanti "Open Source Cancer: Hackers and Biodigital Rituals of Sharing"

Alessandro Delfanti "Open Source Cancer: Hackers and Biodigital Rituals of Sharing"

CSIS/ICIS Food for Thought Event
When Oct 14, 2014
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SS&H 1246
Contact Name
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Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Through the website La Cura (the cure), the Italian designer and hacker Salvatore Iaconesi open sourced his brain tumor and mobilized hundreds of thousands of peers through a digital platform. His condition was turned into a global performance of de-medicalization. In order to do this, he had to hack his medical records and convert them into open formats, to make data easily readable and shareable, as well as to construct an inclusive understanding of the word “cure”. With this case I propose the concept of a “biodigital ritual of sharing”, a protocol or script adapted from hacker cultures’ public practices. While in the context of medical institutions data represented an objectification of the body, their reinscription through the ritual helped symbolized the need for a more socialized experience of cancer. Against techno-determinist utopias of distributed innovation, I highlight how open source and crowdsourcing can be seen as dense biopolitical symbols rather than mere distributed technical solutions. I also suggest that, when facing illness and disability, digital cultures imagine and perform technologies as social and relational rather than bodily prosthesis.

Alessandro Delfanti is a postdoctoral fellow at the ICIS project (Innovating Communication in Scholarship), with a joint appointment with STS and the Genome Center. Prior to joining UC Davis he has worked at McGill University and the University of Milan. His first book is titled Biohackers: The Politics of Open Science (Pluto Press 2013).

Note this is our Food for Thought format where everyone is asked to read a paper ahead of time. After you RSVP, you will be emailed with the paper to be discussed.
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