AO: intentional breaking and rewiring of technology (for illicit purposes).
AO: von Schnitzler narrates her own encounters with her interviewees within the text. She does not mention her data practices explicitly.
AO: von Schnitzler notes that engineers were required to demonstrate their awareness of the history of payment practices in a particular area and how they had gone about testing the meters. She mentions that presentations thus often included the results of field trials or pilot projects that could “demonstrate a certain local knowledge. The importance of this mobilization of local knowl- edge became most obvious in the disjuncture between international and local presenters.”
AO: She notes that electricity and water pre-pay providers thought that people were not educated, but, quoting one expert “in fact, a lot of innovation happens through them. If it wasn’t for people regularly subverting the meter, we all wouldn’t be here.” (687)
AO: interestingly, von Schnitzler merges a macro and techno analysis to argue that technology itself becomes a political terrain for the negotiation of moral-political questions about limits, entitlements and obligations of citizenship in SA (671).
AO: von Schnitzler notes the protagonists were the “users,” the “cunning water thieves,” the “economic saboteurs,” the “bad payers,” “tamperers,” “electricity poachers,” and the residents with “political problems” who pull out, bypass, break, or rewire the devices requiring the constant innovation of new “anti-programs” (“smarter meters,” “security seals,” tools that “audit,” “track,” “monitor,” and “enable remote disconnections”). She notes technical expertise is produced in constant conflict with what one might, with Callon, Lascoumes, and Barthe (2009), term “expertise in the wild.” (687)
AO: Von Schnitzler looks at the pre-paid electricity and water meters in poor urban areas of South Africa and contestations over them between residents tinkering with the technology and utility officials trying to secure it.
AO: Von Schnitzler engages with anthropological work on infrastructure and discussions about modernity. Citing Start, she uses an “ethnography of infrastructure” approach with a geneological approach of how the tech travels over time and space.
AO: Von Schnitzler pulls STS approaches to look at the political and looks at the material and embedded grounds of politics.
AO: Von Schnitzler leverages the concept of “politeness” to denotes a techno-politics that operates on a micro-political terrain and is centrally preoccupied with the “relationship between subjectivity, ethical dispositions, and the technical” (677).
AO: von Schnitzler argues that at a time when boycotts and non-payment (in the settlements) was highly politicized, prepaid meters were invested with the capacity to “delink questions of payment and infrastructure from larger claims to citizenship and to reestablish and materially enforce the boundary between the administrative and the political.” (681)
AO: von Schnitzler is interested in the techno-politics of innovation and how technical devices are assembled and re-assembled in relation to particular ethical regimes and political projects. She argues that as tech for poor are dveloped, it is important to track the travels of such technical devices in order to “de-scribe” a politics in unfamiliar places and in unexpected forms in order to broaden studies of the political (688).
AO: Interestingly, von Schnitzler merges a macro and techno analysis to argue that technology itself becomes a political terrain for the negotiation of moral-political questions about limits, entitlements and obligations of citizenship in SA (671). She does not touch on data or data infrastructures per say nor heavily looks at ecological conditions.
AO: (August 28, 2018): During Natasha Vally's keynote panel at the 4S pre-conference workshop on STS in Africa, she cautioned against romaticizing "breaking" and not to celebrate the breaking. I think this highlights perhaps a discursive risk in this piece.