I was really pleased to discover that Sage have put this chapter from Social Media for Academics online. I’ve felt somewhat self-conscious that I deleted my Twitter account soon after publishing the second edition of a book about social media. But this chapter is what led me to the conclusion that this was the right […]

I found this section by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore really arresting to read a couple of months into the Covid-19 crisis, from loc 216 -231 of their A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things. Cascading failures brought feudalism to an end but there were long struggles as elites resisted demands for change but without having the […]

I’ve spent the last couple of years grappling with the notion of ‘post-truth’ in order to understand the changing social and political context within which academics are using social media. It’s a term I’m instinctively wary of because it so often fails to transcend the level of platitude, enabling people to dismiss political currents they […]

This piece by James Meadway paints a bleakly plausible future for post-pandemic labour. Firstly, the economic costs of social distancing on businesses with already thin profit margins incentivises a renewed push towards automation, something which has been stalled by the relatively cost of labour heretofore. Why risk the large capital investment in robots when humans […]

This short piece by Norman Solomon about the wealth of NYT columnist Thomas Friedman captures something I’ve often felt about the sociological value of what might otherwise be framed as lurid curiosity about the lives of the rich and powerful. For example I’ve been interested for a long time in the personal biography of Anthony […]

When I was younger, I had a bad dream The one where you run, and you run, and keep falling Thank God for the dream you’ve been to me Like a light in the long dark hall They set me on fire and I did a lot of burning Told me I didn’t know things […]

In his final book Metamorphosis Ulrich Beck contrasts two forms of social integration. As he writes on pg 168-169: If one understands the communities of world cities in this sense as ‘cosmopolitan communities of global risk’, however, one must abandon the widespread assumption in the social sciences that community-building is possible only on the basis […]

I thought Jade Lindgaard and Xavier De La Porte identify something important about the strategic issues faced by those who style themselves as intellectuals while remaining resolutely outside the academy. This is from their incisive critique BHL in Wonderland loc 4617, describing the growing rivalry between their titular nemesis Bernard-Henri Lévy and his emerging foe […]

This extract from Carlos Slim by Diego Osorno left me wondering how many private symposia are organised each year, for the edification of high level managers or the amusement of the rich. There are scholarship programs and think tanks organised by the ultra-rich which have senior academics as their directors. For example Nigel Thrift left […]

This extract from today’s Protocol newsletter hinted at something which has been on my mind in the last few weeks. Could new consumer behaviours which might once have seemed implausible quickly take hold during the current crisis? We could ask the same question about non-commercial social media which I’ve always thought was brilliant in principle […]

Notes from the SoLAR Webinar Running an Online Conference The convenors Vitomir Kovanovic and Maren Scheffel described their experience of turning a large (500 person) conference into an online conference at short notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They observed that most online conferences have tended to be run with people experienced with online platforms, […]

From today’s Protocal newsletter: There are three kinds of video chat, Zuckerberg said: One is video calling — “when you call someone and their phone or computer actually rings.” It’s good for quick, ad-hoc interactions. Two is video rooms, “where you create a link, send it out to people, and they can go ahead and join […]

From Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 83: This pattern is epitomized by the career of the novel, which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often included frontispieces, plates, and so on. But all of these elements gradually faded away, over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until the very word illustration […]

I found this passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 147 deeply unsettling to read in the context of the current crisis. The comparative aspect applies slightly less to Covid than it does in the current crisis but the fragility of affluence seems obviously correct: It is not impossible, for instance, that in dealing […]

From Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 30-31: Yet now our gaze seems to be turning again; the uncanny and improbable events that are beating at our doors seem to have stirred a sense of recognition, an awareness that humans were never alone, that we have always been surrounded by beings of all sorts who share […]

I thought this was a really insightful passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement. I’m trying to deepen my understanding of the socio-environmental at the moment (not least of all because you can’t understand Covid-19 without it) and conjunctures like this built around a specific causal relationship between the material and the social over time seem like […]