Please join us with Information Science Colloquium guest, Melissa Gregg. Melissa Gregg is a Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation researching the future of work. Her books include Work’s Intimacy (Polity, 2011), The Affect Theory Reader (Duke UP, 2010), Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices (Palgrave 2006) and the forthcoming Counterproductive: A Brief History of Time Management(Duke UP). Recent publications have appeared in The Atlantic,Interactions, IEEE Computer Magazine and Television and New Media.

Title: This productive life

Abstract: The growing market for productivity technologies reflects the consumer-enterprise collision underway as work escapes the confines of place to be more flexible, pliant, even ambient. Just as the Quantified Self movement is revolutionizing health care, with tracking devices and wearables monitoring activities that can be turned into actionable data sets, personal productivity apps and services capture a similar interest in quantifying and perfecting activity. These tools compensate for failures in the affective and material infrastructure of the contemporary workplace. They allow for the performance of composure in the face of occupational precarity and organizational inefficiency.

More than just a metric for efficiency, today productivity is a lifestyle practiced by elite workers who manage themselves in transient, adhoc workplaces. Technology is the trusted and reliable companion across multiple domains, contexts and experiences. My account of the software market for personal productivity illustrates the qualities of a productive life. Drawing on the ideas of Peter Sloterdijk, I explain productivity as a form of secular athleticism, an aesthetics of accomplishment that compensates for the decline in collective opportunities for ritual.