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Corporate actors increasingly use networked technology as a storytelling device, drawing on a long federal history of writing citizens through surveillance, data aggregation, and analysis. Social and juridical infrastructures are racing to keep up with the rapid pace of data-based technological development, but existing guardrails around aggregation serve instead to foster an environment of algorithmic data storytelling.

Title frame of Dirty Computer, a 2018 film by Janelle Monae

In reading the anti-data state politics of artist Janelle Monáe’s 2018 emotion picture, Dirty Computers: Erotic Data Poetics turns to Black womanist poetics to glean an alternative ideological framework for collecting, analyzing, and using data.