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We humans spend most of our waking lives working. Our work includes cultural, intellectual, managerial and emotional labour as well as physical toil. And yet, most research carried out by humanities and media scholars implicitly treats the study of work as marginal, uninteresting or as a “mere” sociological topic. Even the study of “digital practices” rarely engages with the specifics of the workplace, despite the importance of distributed micro-practices such as clickworking, filesharing and collaborative editing. Information technology continues to underpin this transformation of work today, as it has in the past.
For this reason, the contributions to the interdisciplinary conference “Computing is Work!” (Siegen, Germany, 6–8 July 2017) focused on computing as work practice, both on a local or situated and an infrastructural level. Speakers explored different kinds of computing as work, from computerised literary production to computer-based scientific research. In publishing this think piece as a part of the interdisciplinary online journal Media in Action, we aim to document this conference in a hybrid and productive way: so consider this think piece as a pathway to the conference talks and the conference talks as pathways to this think piece.
As conference organisers, Tom Haigh and I asked ourselves how to present the recorded videos in the most appropriate way. Rather than merely uploading them to a commercial social media platform, we opted to combine this text with the audio-visual content. The conference videos themselves are available in the Media in Action repository and as part of Siegen University’s digital video platform. While we acknowl-edge that certain modes of online circulation may be quicker and more popular, we doubt that yet another YouTube talk is a very sustainable way of scientific publishing. We hope that you, as readers and viewers, enjoy this intermedia mode of publication, linking a think piece (instead of an introduction) with academic talks.