Updates from September, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 8:27 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    aesop waits – tom shall pass (aesop rock vs tom waits) 

     
  • Mark 8:21 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , el-p,   

    welcome to nerd rap 

     
  • Mark 8:05 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    the cruel optimism of the nine to fivers anthem 

    I love this track by Aesop Rock. It occurred to me earlier how well it articulates the pleasure of doing what you love (the pastimes / That we have harbored based solely on the fact / That it makes us smile if it sounds dope) but potentially in a way which contributes to the mystification of doing what you love, something which leaves people ripe for exploitation within the creative industries.

    We the American working population
    Hate the fact that eight hours a day
    Is wasted on chasing the dream of someone that isn’t us
    And we may not hate our jobs
    But we hate jobs in general
    That don’t have to do with fighting our own causes
    We the American working population
    Hate the nine to five day-in day-out
    But we’d rather be supporting ourselves
    By being paid to perfect the pastimes
    That we have harbored based solely on the fact
    That it makes us smile if it sounds dope

    http://genius.com/582214

    http://genius.com/582214

     
  • Mark 7:50 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , unpaid work   

    interrogating internships: unpaid work, creative industries, and higher education 

    This looks like a great special issue of tripleC. I’m going to get started on it as soon as I finish this special issue of The Sociological Review on Gender & Creative Labour. I did an interview with the editors of this issue & it left me aware that I’m even more interested in these questions than I thought I was previously.

    Interrogating Internships: Unpaid Work, Creative Industries, and Higher Education
    Special issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique
    Edited by Greig de Peuter, Nicole S. Cohen, Enda Brophy
    Vol. 13 (2): pp. 329-602
    http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/issue/view/32

    We are thrilled to announce the publication of “Interrogating Internships: Unpaid Work, Creative Industries, and Higher Education,” a special issue of the journal /tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique/. The issue features 22 articles, 32 contributors, and a mix of academic and activist accounts.

    The issue’s publication was preceded by a public forum in Toronto, “Interns, Connect! A Forum on Upsetting Unpaid Work”
    http://culturalworkersorganize.org/interns-connect/
    A launch event in Vancouver is in the works. As an open-access journal, all of the articles are freely available.

    The table of contents is available here:
    http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/issue/current
    The complete issue can be downloaded from here:
    http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/719

     
  • Mark 7:31 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
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    fiction and the social imaginary 

     

    This event by David Beer at York looks fantastic. I’ve just submitted an abstract to talk about how representations of techno-fascism, post-capitalism and collapse can be used as a resource for social theorising.

    CQKLGTlWUAAX6IT

     
  • Mark 7:15 pm on September 30, 2015 Permalink
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    surviving life in the accelerated academy: prospects and problems for digital scholarship 

    Here’s a link to the podcast of an invited talk I did at the Society for Research Into Higher Education last week: Surviving life in the accelerated academy: prospects and problems for digital scholarship

    In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the stress and anxiety of academic life. This developing discourse has an ambivalent relationship to digital technology: it has been facilitated by the uptake of blogging and micro-blogging amongst academics, yet social media and other digital technologies are involved in many of the facets of academic life that are seen as sources of stress and anxiety. This talk uses the notion of ‘social acceleration’ to address the changes taking place within higher education, as well as the role of digital technology in their emergence and the difficulties they create for academics. It considers the significance of digital scholarship within this context, arguing that its institutionalisation will profoundly shape the conditions under which people aspire to be academics and to do academic work. I make the case that there is an emancipatory possibility inherent in the uptake of digital scholarship by academics but that this risks being lost, as a narrower managerialist conception of digital scholarship begins to take root within higher education.

     
  • Mark 7:01 am on September 29, 2015 Permalink
    Tags:   

    the capture of the political class  

    Joseph Stiglitz quoted in The Rich: a 2000 Year History by John Kampfner, pg 386:

    Virtually all US senators, and most of the Representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 per cent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 per cent, and know that if they serve the top 1 per cent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 per cent when they leave office.

    Does the post-office elevation of Tony Blair into the economic stratosphere complicate this picture? Or is it simply an intensification of an existing trend? I’ll be curious to find out what Nick Clegg does with the rest of his life, as I’ve never quite been able to shake the suspicion that for him political office was always a self-conscious stepping stone. Whereas perhaps for Blair and Mandelson, it was more a case of opportunities presenting themselves as their careers unfolded. 

     
  • Mark 5:21 pm on September 28, 2015 Permalink
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    the distracted people and fragile movements of digital capitalism 

    Notes for the talk I’m doing a couple of times next month. First at the Political Agency in the Digital World conference in Denmark then at the Global Cultures of Contestation workshop in Amsterdam. Given I’m going to these places without funding to get feedback, I can’t stress enough how keen for pointers & ideas I am about this project. I basically know what I’m doing with the distracted people stuff (i.e. I spent 6 years doing a PhD on individual reflexivity & years working on digital sociology in various capacities) but I’m completely out of my intellectual comfort zone with the social movements stuff. I’m also totally intimidated by the size of the social movement studies literature. 

    My route into this topic has been a slightly surprising one to me. Last December I found myeslf working on a book chapter that had balooned to 17,000 words. I realised at that point that my book chapter was in fact a book in embyronic form, one which I’ve recently begun to work on. My interest was in how digital capitalism is changing the conditions of existence for people within it: how phenomena such as the pluralisation of communication channels, constant connectivity and the destructuring of careers were radically intensifying the social production of distraction that has always been a feature of modernity itself. I’m interested in how the escalation of demands, something which is of course not evenly distributed, renders triaging necessary for ever greater segments of lived experience: attending to the urgent rather than the important, thinking about the day and the week, rather than the month and the year.

    I want to develop a philosophical anthropology of triaging, concerned with its implications for evaluation and temporality, connected in turn to an empirical and theoretical account of the social and cultural changes which are generating this uneven proclivity towards triaging. I’m particularly interested in the second-order effects of triaging strategies: how phenomena such as information diets, life hacking, the quantified self, extremely early retirement, lifestyle minimalism and others can be seen as regimes for coping with distraction that also in turn intensify the underlying change in the self. Agency is partially recovered but at the cost of a narrowing of horizons.

    I’m also concerned with how many of the factors which lead to the necessity of triaging in turn leave us enmeshed within the filter bubble: being tracked, scrutinised and modelled by a mobile army of opaque overseers, leaving us succeptible to manipulation, in some cases in a manner we willfully embrace for the convenience it affords. Again, I’m interested in the second-order effects: we can escape the filter bubble but there are cognitive costs entailed by it. Total escape can prove all consuming, going off the grid could easily come to constitute a life defining obsession. Continuing to live meaningfully under digital capitalism entails compromise, but the nature of that compromise is something which in itself entails cognitive costs, necessitating that we reflect upon our own information ecology, keep ourselves up to date with current developments and spend time conisdering how to best orientate ourselves towards this rapidly changing edifice.

    Considering these issues in terms of individual lives has led me rather inevitably to thinking about them in collective terms. If I’m right about distracted people then what are their implications for collective life? The relationship between the individual and the collective is an issue that I’ve always been fascinated by and that I’ve written about in the past: some collectives we enter into involuntary but later leave, others are ones we discover as we make our way through the world and many exist between these two extremes. I’m interested in understanding collectives as relationally constituted, made and remade through the engaging of individual biographies, unfolding in concrete spaces of interaction but with a collective reality that extends beyond them.

    In this approach I’m heavily influenced by the relational realism of Margaret Archer and Pierpaolo Donati. On this view, relations are not just patterns of interaction but an emergent reality which is produced and reproduced through interactions. Their analysis hinges on how such relational goods (shared projects and commitments, features of our relationships that we value) constitute collectivities: the co-ordinated actions of individuals become something genuinely collective through their shared orientation towards relation goods & the actions which these generate.

    The same factors which I’m arguing constraint individual reflexivity (clarifying what matters to someone and trying to develop projects which enact those concerns) also constrain collective reflexivity. Developing collective projects requires sustained engagement of a sort which personal distraction by no means prohibits but does inhibit: it leads to a multiplication of obstacles at the individual level which, though individually trivial, manifest themselves through their aggregative consequences. In essence, my approach to understanding the politics of digital distraction is through trying to systematically think through the possible consequences they have for how fragmented individuals might attempt, or fail to attempt, to exercise some collective influence over social and political life.

    I’m trying to understand how individual distraction manifests itself aggregatively in the characteristics of collectives (or the failure of those collectives to form). But I think the same socio-technical factors contributing to bringing this about at the level of individuals are having autonomous effects at the level of collectives: the ease of assembly using social media, the affordances which make it possible for a small number of people to lead many to congregate, make it unlikely that collectives constituted in this way will develop the organisational capacities to sustain themselves through change. I entirely credit Zeynep Tufekci with this insight, though I think I understand the point somewhat differently to her. The mundane effort of mobilisation, so easily dispensed with if it’s no longer necessary, served a consolidating function which allowed a nascent collective to develop capacities which allowed it to respond to changing terrain, adapt tactically and develop strategically as other conflictual collectives responded to its emergence and actions.

    This is further compounded by what Nick Couldry refers to as the ‘myth of us’: which I understand as the conviction that social media has liberated a natural sociality, allowing individuals to take action as individuals. Here comes everybody! Watch those seemingly intractable problems disappear in their wake. Who needs organisations? In this sense, I think it’s a particular contemporary articulation of a much long-standing myth of self-organisation, with a naive view of social media and liberal individualism jointly engendering a belief in homeostasis. Now people have social media, everything will take care of itself. It is of course a myth which the social media platforms have a commercial interest in promoting, having corralled the ‘us’ and built a business upon monetising it.

    Now it follows from a stratified ontology of collectives, in which collectives are constituted by individuals over time (i.e. biographically) but are irreducible to them, that individuals will in turn be changed by their participation in such fragile movements. In this sense, I’m extremely interested in the biographical consequences of social movements. I’d like to better understand these in other eras in order to develop my hunch that the distinctive characteristics of distracted people and fragile movements generate very specific trajectories of engagement with collectives. I’ve been playing with the concept of ‘seeding’ here: do engagements in fragile movements perhaps seed the social world with emancipatory potential by generating a proclivity towards future movements on the part of distinct individuals? But these are ultimately empirical questions and I’m not entirely sure of how to explore them without making this study into something much bigger than it already is. It’s already a bit too big.

    In parallel to this, I’m interested in how distracted people constitute an environment to which collectives (fragile or otherwise) find themselves forced to respond. I’d like to analyse professionalisation of communications in these terms, as well as the kind of messaging that can be found more broadly. What kind of strategies thrive? If attention is effectively finite but divided between an ever greater number of claims upon it, what sort of strategies emerge to ensure competitive advantage? More broadly, how do collective engage with their members? In some cases, I think professionalised relationship management approaches could thrive in these circumstances (e.g. how to keep track of distracted people & keep them engaged) but these in turn undercut the collectivity upon which relational goods depend by setting up a hierarchical relationship between professional staff and managed participants.

    Any thoughts much appreciated!

     
  • Mark 12:43 pm on September 28, 2015 Permalink
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    things I’ve been reading recently #13 

    • Race Against The Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson
    • Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
    • Liquid Surveillance by Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon
    • Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Gabriella Coleman
    • The Fear Index by Robert Harris

    Graphic Novels: 

    • The Superior Iron Man volume 2
    • The Fade Out Act 2
    • Sex book 2
     
  • Mark 5:43 pm on September 26, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    register for the accelerated academy 

    Power, Acceleration and Metrics in Academic Life
    2nd-4th December 2015, Prague (Vila Lanna)

    Organised by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences and supported by the Strategy AV21.

    Register and get more information at http://accelerated.academy

    There is little doubt that science and knowledge production are presently undergoing dramatic and multi-layered transformations accompanied by new imperatives reflecting broader socio-economic and technological developments. The unprecedented proliferation of audit cultures preoccupied with digitally mediated measurement, quantification of scholarship and the consolidation of business-driven managerialism and governance modes are commonplace in the contemporary academy. Concurently, the ever-increasing rate of institutional change, (the need for) intensification of scientific and scholarly production/communication and diverse academic processes seem to characterize the overall acceleration of academic life. Quantification and metrics have emerged not only as navigating instruments paradoxically exacerbating the general dynamization of academic life but also as barely questioned proxies for scientific quality, career progression and job prospects, and as parameters redrawing what it means to be/work as a scholar nowadays. Metrification now seems to be an important interface between labour and surveillance within academic life, with manifold affective implications.

    This three-day conference investigates the techniques of auditing and their attendant practices and effects and will also probe into scholars’ complicity in reproduction of such practices. It will consider processes of social acceleration within the academy and their implications for the management of everyday activity by those working within it. This will include:

    •  empirical and theoretical engagements with the acceleration of higher education
    •  the origins of metrification of higher education
    •  metrification as a form of social control
    •  the challenges of self-management posed by metrification and/or acceleration
    •  common strategic responses to these challenges
    •  the relationship between metrification and acceleration
    •  how metrification and acceleration relate to a broader social crisis

    Keynote Speakers

    Roger Burrows (Goldsmiths, University of London) – Ancient Cultures of Conceit Reloaded

    In 1990 the sociologist Ian Carter published Ancient Cultures of Conceit – a brilliant analysis of campus fiction. It provides a wonderful rendering of a world we have lost – a world where academic life was slower paced and where spreadsheets, metrics, business plans and impact agendas were largely unknown. This paper attempts to carry forward Carter’s analysis over the last 25 years examining more recent examples of the campus fiction genre but also including fictional representations of campus life to be found on social media.

    Philip Moriarty (University of Nottingham) – The Power, Perils and Pitfalls of Peer Review in Public

    There are major deficiencies in traditional peer review. Not only can clearly flawed papers easily  pass ‘scrutiny’ with flying colours,  but the idea that a study is accepted into the scientific literature on the basis of a handful – or, not infrequently, one – set of anonymous reviewer comments seems quaint and archaic in a Twitter-, blogoshere-, and BuzzFeed-enabled world. Post-publication peer review, enabled by sites such as PubPeer, is an exceptionally important tool for online critique, analysis, and scrutiny of published papers. For the next generation of researchers, PPPR will almost certainly be de rigueur. Before we get to that point, however, there are quite a number of teething problems that need to be addressed. These include, in particular, the key issue of the role of anonymity and moderation in online commentary.

    Susan Robertson (University of Bristol) – Vertigo: Time and space in the contemporary university

    One of Henri Lefebvre’s great intellectual contribution was not only how we think about the spatiality and temporality of social life but that lived/in spaces and their social relations are the outcome of ongoing cultural, political and economic projects and their dynamics. In this lecture I explore the changing nature of the contemporary university, and the ways in which recalibrations of time and space are also simultaneously the medium, object, and outcome of these projects and dynamics.  I invoke the idea of ‘vertigo’ – the sensation of the world moving, and profound anxieties about the potential for a loss of height – as a way of exploring the complex ways in which governing the university through temporal and spatial strategies mediates the ongoing experiences of living, learning, and working, in the university.

    James Wilsdon (University of Sussex) – The Metric Tide: Reflections on the UK’s Independent Review of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management 

    There are powerful currents whipping up the metric tide. These include growing pressures for audit and evaluation of public spending on higher education and research; demands by policymakers for more strategic intelligence on research quality and impact; the need for institutions to manage and develop their strategies for research; competition within and between institutions for prestige, students, staff and resources; and increases in the availability of real-time ‘big data’ on research uptake, and the capacity of tools for analysing it. Citations, journal impact factors, H-indices, even tweets and Facebook likes – there are no end of quantitative measures that can now be used to assess the quality and wider impacts of research. But how robust and reliable are such indicators, and what weight – if any – should we give them in the management of the UK’s research system? Over the past year, the UK’s Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management has looked in detail at these questions. The review has explored the use of metrics across the full range of academic disciplines, and assessed their potential contribution to processes of research assessment like the Research Excellence Framework (REF). It has looked at how universities themselves use metrics, at the rise of league tables and rankings, at the relationship between metrics and issues of equality and diversity, and at the potential for ‘gaming’ that can arise from the use of particular indicators in the funding system. The review’s final report, The Metric Tide, was published on 9 July 2015. In his talk, James Wilsdon will reflect on the review process, outline its main findings, and consider the opportunities and obstacles to more responsible uses of metrics in the research system.

    Oili-Helena Ylijoki (University of Tampere) – ‘Projectification’ and conflicting time orders in academic knowledge production

    Under the current conditions of academic capitalism and market-driven managerialism, university research is increasingly conducted in large projects on external, competitive funding from various national and international sources. The project format offers a fixed-term, fast and flexible organizational mode which fits together with constantly changing needs of the turbulent university environment. This paper argues that the ‘projectification’ of science creates a special project time which stands in conflict with process time. Project time, embedded in standardized and abstract clock time, is decontextualized, linear, cumulative and predictable, entailing a strictly defined timeframe with a fixed beginning and end. This is in a sharp contrast with nonlinear, context-dependent and unpredictable process time involving unforeseen periods of standstill, deceleration and acceleration. Furthermore, project time includes      1) commodification of time by translating research process into money, 2) control of time by dividing research into beforehand determined phases in which accountability of the use of time is required, 3) compression of time by speeding up research productivity, and 4) colonization of time by subordinating alternative temporalities in research. The paper discusses how the intensification of project time reshapes and remoulds research practices and academic subjectivity, and what possibilities for alternative temporalities can be created and sustained at the accelerated academy. This is done by distinguishing temporal dilemmas and ways to live with them: long-term commitment vs. short-term funding; fast pace vs. slow thinking; time efficiency vs. wasting time; linear career time vs. circular project rat race; and work time vs. existential time.

     
  • Mark 9:01 am on September 23, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Digital footprints 

    HT to Jack Palmer for this very nicely produced video, introducing the idea of the digital footprint:

    When I can bring myself to write about social media again, I intend to blog a lot about this. I had some interesting ideas in the final stages of finishing Social Media for Academics, not all of which made it into the book due to constraints of space.

     
  • Mark 6:57 pm on September 21, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    good cafes in manchester to work in 

    I asked this question earlier on Twitter and received an excellent range of responses. For my own convenience, here’s a list of the recommended cafes that I’m planning to try out over the coming weeks:

     
  • Mark 6:54 am on September 21, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , movement, , , ,   

    the sociology of the camp 

     Zygmunt Bauman in Liquid Surveillance, pg 64:

    By definition, the idea of ‘transition’ stands for a finite process, a time- span with clearly drawn starting and finishing lines – a passage from a spatial, temporal, or spatial and temporal, ‘here’ to a ‘there’; but these are precisely the attributes denied to the condition of ‘being a refugee’, which is defined and set apart from and in opposition to the ‘norms’ by their absence. A ‘camp’ is not a mid- station, or a road inn, or a motel on a voyage from here to there. It is the terminal station, where all mapped roads peter out and all movement grinds to a halt – with little prospect of parole or of the sentence being completed: more and more people are born in camps and die there, visiting no other places in their lifetime. Camps ooze finality; not the finality of destination, though, but of the state of transition petrified into a state of permanence.

     
  • Mark 7:21 pm on September 20, 2015 Permalink
    Tags:   

    if I can’t stick around here and fight them, I’ll take my last fucking breath to my grave just to spite them 

     
  • Mark 6:54 pm on September 20, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    registration now open: power, acceleration and metrics in academic life 

    Power, Acceleration and Metrics in Academic Life
    2nd-4th December 2015, Prague (Vila Lanna)

    Organised by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences and supported by the Strategy AV21.

    Register and get more information at http://accelerated.academy

    There is little doubt that science and knowledge production are presently undergoing dramatic and multi-layered transformations accompanied by new imperatives reflecting broader socio-economic and technological developments. The unprecedented proliferation of audit cultures preoccupied with digitally mediated measurement, quantification of scholarship and the consolidation of business-driven managerialism and governance modes are commonplace in the contemporary academy. Concurently, the ever-increasing rate of institutional change, (the need for) intensification of scientific and scholarly production/communication and diverse academic processes seem to characterize the overall acceleration of academic life. Quantification and metrics have emerged not only as navigating instruments paradoxically exacerbating the general dynamization of academic life but also as barely questioned proxies for scientific quality, career progression and job prospects, and as parameters redrawing what it means to be/work as a scholar nowadays. Metrification now seems to be an important interface between labour and surveillance within academic life, with manifold affective implications.

    This three-day conference investigates the techniques of auditing and their attendant practices and effects and will also probe into scholars’ complicity in reproduction of such practices. It will consider processes of social acceleration within the academy and their implications for the management of everyday activity by those working within it. This will include:

    •  empirical and theoretical engagements with the acceleration of higher education
    •  the origins of metrification of higher education
    •  metrification as a form of social control
    •  the challenges of self-management posed by metrification and/or acceleration
    •  common strategic responses to these challenges
    •  the relationship between metrification and acceleration
    •  how metrification and acceleration relate to a broader social crisis

    Keynote Speakers

    Roger Burrows (Goldsmiths, University of London) – Ancient Cultures of Conceit Reloaded

    In 1990 the sociologist Ian Carter published Ancient Cultures of Conceit – a brilliant analysis of campus fiction. It provides a wonderful rendering of a world we have lost – a world where academic life was slower paced and where spreadsheets, metrics, business plans and impact agendas were largely unknown. This paper attempts to carry forward Carter’s analysis over the last 25 years examining more recent examples of the campus fiction genre but also including fictional representations of campus life to be found on social media.

    Philip Moriarty (University of Nottingham) – The Power, Perils and Pitfalls of Peer Review in Public

    There are major deficiencies in traditional peer review. Not only can clearly flawed papers easily  pass ‘scrutiny’ with flying colours,  but the idea that a study is accepted into the scientific literature on the basis of a handful – or, not infrequently, one – set of anonymous reviewer comments seems quaint and archaic in a Twitter-, blogoshere-, and BuzzFeed-enabled world. Post-publication peer review, enabled by sites such as PubPeer, is an exceptionally important tool for online critique, analysis, and scrutiny of published papers. For the next generation of researchers, PPPR will almost certainly be de rigueur. Before we get to that point, however, there are quite a number of teething problems that need to be addressed. These include, in particular, the key issue of the role of anonymity and moderation in online commentary.

    Susan Robertson (University of Bristol) – Vertigo: Time and space in the contemporary university

    One of Henri Lefebvre’s great intellectual contribution was not only how we think about the spatiality and temporality of social life but that lived/in spaces and their social relations are the outcome of ongoing cultural, political and economic projects and their dynamics. In this lecture I explore the changing nature of the contemporary university, and the ways in which recalibrations of time and space are also simultaneously the medium, object, and outcome of these projects and dynamics.  I invoke the idea of ‘vertigo’ – the sensation of the world moving, and profound anxieties about the potential for a loss of height – as a way of exploring the complex ways in which governing the university through temporal and spatial strategies mediates the ongoing experiences of living, learning, and working, in the university.

    James Wilsdon (University of Sussex) – The Metric Tide: Reflections on the UK’s Independent Review of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management 

    There are powerful currents whipping up the metric tide. These include growing pressures for audit and evaluation of public spending on higher education and research; demands by policymakers for more strategic intelligence on research quality and impact; the need for institutions to manage and develop their strategies for research; competition within and between institutions for prestige, students, staff and resources; and increases in the availability of real-time ‘big data’ on research uptake, and the capacity of tools for analysing it. Citations, journal impact factors, H-indices, even tweets and Facebook likes – there are no end of quantitative measures that can now be used to assess the quality and wider impacts of research. But how robust and reliable are such indicators, and what weight – if any – should we give them in the management of the UK’s research system? Over the past year, the UK’s Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management has looked in detail at these questions. The review has explored the use of metrics across the full range of academic disciplines, and assessed their potential contribution to processes of research assessment like the Research Excellence Framework (REF). It has looked at how universities themselves use metrics, at the rise of league tables and rankings, at the relationship between metrics and issues of equality and diversity, and at the potential for ‘gaming’ that can arise from the use of particular indicators in the funding system. The review’s final report, The Metric Tide, was published on 9 July 2015. In his talk, James Wilsdon will reflect on the review process, outline its main findings, and consider the opportunities and obstacles to more responsible uses of metrics in the research system.

    Oili-Helena Ylijoki (University of Tampere) – ‘Projectification’ and conflicting time orders in academic knowledge production

    Under the current conditions of academic capitalism and market-driven managerialism, university research is increasingly conducted in large projects on external, competitive funding from various national and international sources. The project format offers a fixed-term, fast and flexible organizational mode which fits together with constantly changing needs of the turbulent university environment. This paper argues that the ‘projectification’ of science creates a special project time which stands in conflict with process time. Project time, embedded in standardized and abstract clock time, is decontextualized, linear, cumulative and predictable, entailing a strictly defined timeframe with a fixed beginning and end. This is in a sharp contrast with nonlinear, context-dependent and unpredictable process time involving unforeseen periods of standstill, deceleration and acceleration. Furthermore, project time includes      1) commodification of time by translating research process into money, 2) control of time by dividing research into beforehand determined phases in which accountability of the use of time is required, 3) compression of time by speeding up research productivity, and 4) colonization of time by subordinating alternative temporalities in research. The paper discusses how the intensification of project time reshapes and remoulds research practices and academic subjectivity, and what possibilities for alternative temporalities can be created and sustained at the accelerated academy. This is done by distinguishing temporal dilemmas and ways to live with them: long-term commitment vs. short-term funding; fast pace vs. slow thinking; time efficiency vs. wasting time; linear career time vs. circular project rat race; and work time vs. existential time.

     
  • Mark 6:51 pm on September 20, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Felix & Adelita 

    She called him Felix
    Which meant ‘lucky’ to her
    He was a middle-distance runner
    She didn’t take him seriously
    But shifted in her seat when he walked by

    He thought her plain
    But sensual in some way
    She licked the corner of her mouth thoughtfully
    Wore her skirts above the knee

    He told her a story about a pair of green and gold yarn gloves
    That he’d been given
    It was a sting of recognition
    She realized he’d given those gloves to her
    When he left it had the feel of a little tradition

    Latch solitude to the wind
    But when you leave again
    Leave something of you with them
    Tie your fishing lines to the fence posts
    And do your best to reel them in

    The candle flickers
    We measure mortals by unsturdy things
    Tear leaves off of the sycamore
    Pin down the butterfly’s wings

    I never knew it got this cold in August
    Here in Tuscon
    Lonely in the evening
    There’s nothing here to hold the heat
    The sun goes down
    It floats off and is lost

    Anyway you got a jacket
    Tell me where you got that necklace
    He looked across the parking lot
    At the path under the highway
    At the mouth of it a man slung bags of cans across his back
    He coughed, and he turned back to the table

    She told him a story of a hand embroidered pillow
    She’d been given
    It was with a sting of recognition
    He realized she’d given him that pillow
    When she left it had the feel of a little tradition

    So latch solitude to the wind
    But when you leave again
    Leave something of you with the
    Tie your fishing lines to fence posts
    And do your best to reel them in

    The candle flickers
    We measure mortals by unsturdy things
    Tear leaves off of the sycamore
    And pin down the butterfly’s wings

     
  • Mark 9:31 pm on September 19, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , edward walker, shadow mobilization,   

    the astroturfing industry  

    From Edward Walker’s Grassroots For Hire pg 6-7:

    Today, more and more advocacy is being driven not by the local organizing of autonomous citizens, but by the efforts of paid consultants that organizations like these for- profit colleges hire to help them activate receptive members of the public on their behalf. Grassroots for Hire reveals an industry of consultants who work on behalf of companies, powerful interest groups, labor unions, and other organizations to shift public policies in their clients’ favor by mobilizing mass participation. Their clients include many of the most powerful multinationals: 40 percent of Fortune 500 firms appear as their clients. The reach is vast: the leading campaign by an average consulting firm targets over 750,000 Americans for participation. 16 Their work is lucrative: consultants command hourly rates at (or at times well beyond) $400 per hour. Their campaigns are consequential: they go beyond the work of traditional lobbyists by showing to legislators and regulators that a client’s concerns have motivated and organized constituencies mobilized to support them.

    And from page 8:

    Public affairs consultants, sometimes known as “grassroots lobbyists,” 20 incentivize citizen participation through a variety of means, often using new information and communications technologies to facilitate the process. Their work goes beyond simple public relations strategies that focus on messaging without encouraging citizen action. Their campaigns may not be entirely replacing traditional forms of grassroots organizing, but they are undoubtedly helping to commercialize citizen advocacy, offering the repertoire of participation originally developed by advocacy organizations and social movements as a professional service in the political marketplace. To the extent that only select citizens are targeted for participation, this form of commercialized advocacy exacerbates participatory inequalities among the citizenry, and may be further decoupling citizen participation from the democratic norms, social networks, and feelings of institutional trust that undergird our civic life. In addition, although many consultants avoid such strategies, some engage in “astroturf” (i.e., fake grassroots) strategies on behalf of their clients through the use of heavy incentives, fraud, or misleading claims about their sponsorship. Their doing so may reduce citizens’ trust not only in the political process but also in advocacy groups more broadly.

     
  • Mark 11:30 am on September 18, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    on fragile movements 

    The notion of fragile movements is an integral part of my new project. I’ve tried to explain it at various points on the blog, as well as in a book chapter which will be published as part of the Centre for Social Ontology’s annual Social Morphogenesis series. But I just encountered a really apt description of the sense in which I mean ‘fragile’ in a George Monbiot article of all places. This is what I’m trying to explain in the project:

    The trajectory of leftwing mobilisations in Britain has in recent years followed a consistent pattern: they go up like fireworks and come down the same way. People gather in a fiery rush of creativity and hope, then implode and fall to earth. The tumult of ideas, so inspiring in the early days, leads to confusion and dissipation. A thousand voices clamour to be heard, and competition and atomisation sometimes seem to dominate movements that claim to stand against such forces. Wars of attrition fought by the police grind hope into dust. People become burnt out and disillusioned. A few months later a new enthusiasm takes hold, and we repeat the pattern, apparently gaining little from experience.

    While the mobilisations of our grandparents’ generation lasted for decades, ours struggle to survive for months. We create spectacles and debates; we raise interest and awareness. But we seldom generate lasting change.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/15/leftwing-evangelical-christianity-corbyn

     
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