Peer Reviewed





For nearly a decade, big data has been hyped as an amazing new technology that will benefit corporations and consumers alike. By promising customized knowledge at an accelerated pace, big data technologies have slowly saturated the digital systems American consumers use to live, work, and play. Yet have the promised benefits materialized? An examination of the proposed contact tracing applications in response to the novel coronavirus alongside existing wearable technologies reveal that our trust and vulnerability, opening our bodies to be sensed by these networked systems, is a fraught rhetorical activity: not because an omniscient system now sees us and cares for us in our time of grave need. Rather, the opaque system misunderstands our embodied rhetorical actions, is incapable of moving the American polis, and cannot generate the promised collective action.


Big Data, Contact Tracing, Control, Kairos, Embodiment, Procedural Rhetoric


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License