Systems are becoming more powerful

From a Computer Science perspective, systems are not participants, nor actors in communities of people (inter- view Warnier 2009). Systems observe, they monitor, but they do not witness. Systems cannot witness anything on their own because witnessing implies a form of consciousness that systems do not have. However, systems give people context and structure and therefore influence the way people perceive and understand their environment. Here, systems are becoming more powerful over time. Data become more accurate and more interconnected and generate perspectives and representations as never before (interviews Warnier 2009, Quilinan 2009, van Splunter 2009).

When looking at systems, engagement brings the act of witnessing to another level in which larger structure of data and patterns emerge. In most situations, participants witness each other. Algorithmic reality provides the ability to take a new witness position, a ‘third point’: to construct a global view of a system, its participants and oneself. One can watch the system and the participants in the system witnessing each other, introducing a new kind of reflexivity in which participants witness their own witnessing (interview Hazra 2008).