Originally published in Portuguese in CARRIGAN, M. “Sociologia Digital: Problemas e Propostas” In: ALVES, P. & NASCIMENTO, L. Novas fronteiras metodológicas nas Ciências Sociais. Salvador: EDUFBA, 2018. Only five years ago, Jessie Daniels observed that were “Digital Humanities but No Digital Sociology” (Daniels and Feagin 2011). Since then the situation has changed, with an edited […]

It’s only a month to go until the second edition of Social Media for Academics will be released by Sage. It’s a vastly expanded text with almost 100 new pages of material. I’ve also rewritten the existing content from start to finish. There’s a whole range of topics which have been added: live blogging, developing […]

I’m taking the site offline in the near future. But there’s a PDF available here. It’s a massive (80mb, 5000 page) PDF so it’s a pain to download. Milena, Sadia and myself will be producing a curated version of this at some point next year but it won’t be available for a while.  

From Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks pg 167: Parents in Allegheny County helped me articulate an inchoate idea that had been echoing in my head since I started my research. In Indiana, Los Angeles, and Allegheny County, technologists and administrators explained to me that new high-tech tools in public services increase transparency and decrease discrimination. […]

From The Idea of the Digital University by Frank Bryce McCluskey and Melanie Lynn Winter pg 6-7: What makes the online course so different? When the semester is finished, there is a record of every interaction, every question and every event that occurred in the digital course. There was no such record with the traditional […]

I thought this was extremely powerful by Virgina Eubanks in Automating Inequality. She explains on pg 121-122 how machinic learning systems can operate as a form of triage, sorting people in order to distribute scarce resources in a seemingly more rational fashion: COunter INTELligence PROgram of the FBI), for example, focused on civil rights activists […]

The promise of introducing machine learning into public administration is that it can counteract human bias. The latent promise of bureaucracy can be realised by systems that won’t be up-ended by the messy imperfections of their human operators. However Virginia Eubanks makes clear in Automating Inequality that the reality is something much more worrying, as […]

I’ve blogged in the past about The Great Disruptive Project. We should understand a company like Uber, at least in its earlier stages, as in part a moral project. By this I mean there is a vision underlying the company, a critique of the existing order associated with this vision and a commitment to changing […]

The Attention Economy and the Net is a remarkably prescient piece, widely seen to have coined the eponymous term and containing insights which are still relevant two decades later. The framing of the economy unsurprisingly shapes the approach he adopts and it creates a focus on exchange which I find problematic in some respects. This isn’t […]

From Emily Chang’s Brotopia pg 52: The beliefs of the PayPal founders—that individual merit is the most valuable metric of human potential and that creativity is deadened by groupthink—have deeply influenced the postcrash tech industry and are consistent with the ideas promoted by Thiel’s cohort at Stanford. There are many counterarguments to this thinking, but […]

This interesting piece from Li Jin suggests a transition from a gig economy to a passion economy. Both facilitate economic action by individuals but the former reduces their individuality to a single attribute (driving a car, delivering food) whereas the latter allows them to offer services premised on that individuality (teaching students, offering analysis). In […]

Join Us Because “Critical Realism Matters” Webinars on Saturday 16th November, 2019 & Launch of The Bhaskar Memorial Fund Critical Realism Matters is a new series of webinar events held to showcase and celebrate the enormous potential of critical realism. The first pair of webinars, taking place on Saturday 16th November, 2019, have been planned to commemorate the […]

Social media has become an inescapable part of academic life. It has the power to transform scholarly communication and offers new opportunities to publish and publicise your work, to network in your discipline and beyond and to engage the public. However, to do so successfully requires a careful understanding of best practice, the risks, rewards […]

From Automating Inequality by Virgina Eubanks pg 123-124: The proponents of the coordinated entry system, like many who seek to harness computational power for social justice, tend to find affinity with systems engineering approaches to social problems. These perspectives assume that complex controversies can be solved by getting correct information where it needs to go […]

This section from Virginia Eubank’s Automating Inequality has stuck in my mind. It describes the destructive roll out of an automated system for allocating benefits in Indiana, leaving tens of thousands of legitimate recipients caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare which required time, energy and know how at precisely the point where withdrawal of their expected […]

The Practical Order as Pivotal might seem like an odd choice to initiate a reading group on the digital condition, as it makes no reference to digital technology. However it’s been central to my own thinking as someone who has done a lot of theoretical work on social media and its implications for social life. […]

I thought this was a really interesting observation by Jill Abramson on pg 145 of her Merchants of Truth. What other forums are there? The Times ran a definitive investigation of the punishing work culture at Amazon, 23 with grizzly anecdotes about employees crying at their desks and burning out because of the unrelenting pressure […]

From Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth pg 386: The “Trump bump” was mostly responsible for its strong financial reports following the election as the paid digital readership began to explode. By the end of the second quarter there were 600,000 new subscriptions, bringing the total number of digital subscribers above two million. In 2017 paid […]