The purpose of this on-line essay is to share this learning experience with other activists and researchers. The Nike Sweatshop email will structure the discussion by serving as an “object-to-think-with”, a phrase sociologist Sherry Turkle coined to describe artifacts that help us understand complex cultural trends. I trace the Nike Sweatshop email as it moves through the media ecology, pointing out important concepts, technologies, and trends as I go. Frequently, I provide links to supporting materials. This essay is meant to be a guide to a myriad of useful on-line resources.

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Proponents of the Surveillance Dividend frame their benefits as self-evident and apolitical: we are told that informationalizing problems just makes them more knowable and more manageable. But there’s nothing self-evident or apolitical about the tools and methods of the Surveillance Dividend. In reality, they only see what they want to see and they only know what they want to know. What they often don’t know and don’t want to see is their own politics.
(…) whether health – or anything else for that matter – constitutes an “information problem” is not a question to be taken lightly. Silicon Valley, for the most part, has already answered it for us – in the affirmative. Give them any problem – and, a few apps later, an “information” solution is magically found. Recast that way, the problem inevitably leads to the invocation of the Surveillance Dividend and its unquestionable benefits. But shouldn’t we also inquire what happens once health, education, poverty are recast as problems presumed to be solvable via information?