Three RFID discourses

I’ve been busy preparing my keynote presentation for Kiwicon, which basically means going through dozens of pages of notes I have on public discourses surrounding RFID and trying to wrangle them into a 30 minute talk. You’d think this would be relatively straight-forward but it’s a pretty complex issue approached by multiple publics in different ways. For this talk I’ll probably just focus on three inter-connected ways that RFID gets framed.

First, RFID is awesome because it’s convenient, efficient and secure:

Second, RFID is evil because it supports/normalises surveillance of activities and bodies:

Third, RFID is fun because it can be hacked or otherwise made to do interesting and/or playful things.

The first two should be recognisable from mass media accounts, and each could be sub-divided into multiple discourses that can be firmly oppositional, but are probably better understood as occupying various positions on a continuum between either extreme. I’ve chosen the third theme because I’m speaking at a hacker conference and because my own research focusses on how practitioners (geeks, artists, designers, activists, etc.) tend to imagine and engage with new technologies in ways that depend on the other two discursive positions, but often run parallel or perpendicular to them.

I’ll post my slides here after my talk, and in the meantime you can check out this video about a few clever pigs who use their fellow pigs’ discarded RFID collars to hack the feeding machines and get some extra chow: