Updates from December, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 2:04 pm on December 29, 2015 Permalink

    I’ve never had a contract with @VirginMedia, yet they’re sending me details of my ‘spending’ 

    I just wasted half an hour on the phone, only to be told that they can offer no explanation as to why I’ve received this letter:

  • Mark 1:11 pm on December 29, 2015 Permalink

    Calling PhDs & ECRs: @thesocreview conference funding competition is now open! 

    The Sociological Review has launched the next round of its support scheme for unfunded PhDs and ECRs. Find out more and apply here:

    We are pleased to announce our latest round of funding, supported by The Sociological Review Foundation.

    Funds of up to £1000 per applicant are be available for unfunded PhD students and postdocs (within 3 years of completion) to facilitate their attendance and participation of conferences.

    To apply, please first check that you meet the criteria for applying (below) and then access and fill in the form below by our deadline of 31st January 2016.

    You will be informed by 28th February of the outcome of your application.


  • Mark 10:58 am on December 29, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    things I’ve been reading recently #17 

    • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
    • Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism by Alfie Brown
    • The Pathology of Communicative Capitalism by David Hill
    • The New Ruthless Economy by Simon Head
    • The Prince and the Wolf by Bruno Latour, Graham Harman and Peter Erdelyi
    • Overheads by Ann Oakley
    • Submission by Michel Houellebecq
    • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

    Graphic Novels:

    • Criminal: The Last of the Innocent by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
    • Uber volume 5 by Kieron Gillen
  • Mark 11:09 pm on December 28, 2015 Permalink

    the most read posts on my blog in 2015 

    Looking for an Evernote alternative? Centrallo might be what you’re looking for

    Productivity culture, cognitive triage and the pseudo-commensurability of the to-do list

    Human Beings, Social Agents and Social Actors

    The Rise of the Self-Funded Studentship and What It Says About Academia (and Academics)

    The myth of ‘us’ in a digital age

    why are we not boycotting academia.edu?

    Life in the Accelerated Academy, part 1

    An unusual e-mail

    What do you actually use Evernote for?

    President of Imperial College London: “Professors are really like small business owners”

    How to live tweet effectively at academic conferences

    Asexuality and Its Implications for Sexuality Studies

    social media for academics: available for pre-order!

  • Mark 10:39 pm on December 28, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    imagining an academy in which academics were paid not to write 

    From Ann Oakley’s satirical novel Overheads. A remarkable rant from a professor who has just been discovered to have fabricated the vast majority of his publications list:

    The thing is, Lydia, few people realise how few books or articles are ever read by anybody. The average number of people who read an academic article is 4.6. Do you know how many books are published every year? About a quarter of a million int he UK and the States alone. Who needs them? I ask you! Most people write things just to put them on their CVs. So that’s what I did, only I put them on my CV without writing them. It’s been a kinda test of the moral status of the academy: a research project into ethics and everyday academic life, if you like. It’s been fun.

    What we need, I often think, i s something like the set-aside mechanism of the Common Agricultural Policy. Farmers get paid for not growing crops, so we academics should get paid for not writing. As I have been, ine ffect. It’d make things a helluva lot easier. Just think: you wouldn’t ever have to update student reading lists, all those journal editors would stop harassing you to review books, students’d have more money to spend on beer, libraries wouldn’t have to keep expanding, and it’s be good for our eyesight as well.

    pg 258

  • Mark 9:09 am on December 28, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    institutionalised goal setting in tech firms  

    How companies institutionalise certain forms of (quantifiable) reflexivity. From Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! pg 10:

    Starting in 1999, Google management used a system called Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, to measure the effectiveness of its employees, divisions, and the company overall. The idea for OKRs came from Google investor John Doerr, the famous venture capitalist. Doerr got it from Andy Grove, who developed a similar system called Management by Objective during his successful run at Intel. In the OKR system, every Google employee would come up with a list of quantifiable goals every quarter. The employee would present this list to a manager for sign-off, then the approved goals would be entered into Google’s internal network, where everyone in the entire company could see them. The next quarter, the employee would meet with the manager again, review their performance, and get a score on their OKRs. That score would determine the employee’s bonus payment and ability to get a raise, a transfer, or promotion within the company. Starting in September 2012, Mayer introduced a clone of OKRs to Yahoo. She called them Quarterly Performance Reviews, or QPRs. Employees from Mayer’s direct reports on down would get a score every quarter, from one to five. A one meant the employee consistently “misses” goals, a two meant the employee “occasionally misses,” a three, “achieves,” a four, “exceeds,” and a five, “greatly exceeds.”

    In this case, it was used to support a ‘rank and yank’ system. Making it slightly more palatable by ranking employees in terms of goals they’ve formulated themselves. From pg 10-11:

    In effect, a target distribution meant Mayer wanted managers to put a certain percentage of the employees they managed in each of the five buckets. Ten percent would go into “greatly exceeds,” 25 percent into “exceeds,” 50 percent into “achieves,” 10 percent into “occasionally misses,” and 5 percent into “misses.” Then Mayer rolled out new policies wherein employee eligibility for bonuses, promotions, and transfers within the company would be based on their average score for the past three quarters. Employees with low enough scores would be asked to leave the company.

    As apparently happened at Microsoft as well (an interesting case study) this brought employees into direct competition with each other. What interests me here is the disjuncture between the supposedly transparent standards employees are subject to and the utterly opaque consequences of the grading curve. Someone has to fail. So how do you know if you’ve done enough? Meeting your goals isn’t enough to be safe. You have to try and ensure you surpass your peers in everything you do. This doesn’t necessarily lead to the acceleration of work but it does lead to its intensification

  • Mark 2:58 pm on December 26, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , bernie sanders, run the jewels   

    killer mike from run the jewels interviews bernie sanders 

    And it’s really good. Though I’d like to understand the everyday intuitive and peculiarly American sense of ‘capitalism’ used by Killer Mike here.

  • Mark 9:27 pm on December 24, 2015 Permalink

    ever wondered how to drink beer properly? 

     Well now you know. Courtesy of @thebeerhawk.

  • Mark 8:11 am on December 24, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: metaphors, , , ,   

    what if we talked of digital ‘weeds’ rather than ‘viruses’? 

    From Spam, by Finn Brunton, pg 89:

    “Alan Solomon . . . a veteran antivirus researcher with a PhD in economics, critiqued the virus metaphor, suggesting that this medical/ biological metaphor of ‘virus’ is ‘too emotive’ . . . Instead, he proposed ‘weeds’ as a more appropriate concept for describing the threat of computer code.” 66 With “weeds” comes a very different culture of metaphors, of strong and weak ecosystems, each person cultivating their own garden every day to keep invasive species at bay. It is a much better metaphor for expressing one of the global computer network’s key points of weakness to “viral infection”: the monoculture of computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, often poorly patched and unmaintained by users, making the network as vulnerable as the cloned Cavendish banana trees are to fungus attacks. Without overstating the influence of metaphor, it’s striking to consider how much that nomenclature might have changed the practices of security and programming around self-replicating computer code: computers as gardens rather than bodies, with diverse software populations to be tended and pruned by attentive and self-reliant users, potentially capable of weed resistance in their interdependence, with the professionals as agronomists, breeders, and exterminators rather than doctors at the cordon sanitaire. 67

  • Mark 1:35 pm on December 22, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    the problem of ‘community’ 

    From Spam, by Finn Brunton, pg 6-7:

    Two qualities unite these disparate uses of “community.” First, deep uncertainties about properties and edges: is community about location and face-to-face proximity, or does it consist of affective bonds that can be established by a text message as they are by an embrace? Does it encompass huge swathes of human experience, or is it at best a way to outline a formal arrangement of shared interests? Where is the lower bound—that is, when does a group of atomized individuals, a scattered and manifold accumulation of people and groups, transform into a community? Where is the upper bound—when does a sufficiently large or sufficiently self-reflective community become a “society,” a “public,” a citizenry, or another communal apotheosis? (And when does a community become a crowd, a mob?) The second quality that binds all these diverse applications of “community” lies in how very nearly impossible it is to use the word negatively, with its many connotations of affection, solidarity, interdependence, mutual aid, consensus, and so on. As Lori Kendall succinctly says, it “carries significant emotional baggage.” Raymond Williams summarizes the baggage as its “warmly persuasive” tone—“ it seems never to be used unfavourably.”

  • Mark 1:35 pm on December 22, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: arpanet, , , , , ,   

    is Twitter making the Internet local again? 

    In his fascinating book Spam: a Shadow History of the Internet, Finn Brunton offers an example on pg 23-24 of how the early ARPANET was local in a way that is no longer the case.

    in September 1973, computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock used his ARPANET connection in Los Angeles to get back the electric razor he’d left at a conference in Brighton. He knew his friend Larry Roberts would probably be online (logged in at a terminal in Brighton to a mainframe in Cambridge) and could retrieve it and hand it off to someone going to Los Angeles. He reached across the transcontinental, trans-Atlantic network as though leaning over a fence, shouting across the street.

    I was struck by the thought that I retrieved a laptop charger in precisely the same way via Twitter. Is this platform making the Internet local again? By which I mean that network activity often forms largely around professional networks with a substantial degree of prior face-to-face interaction and the facilitation of further face-to-face interaction through digitally mediated contact?

  • Mark 1:34 pm on December 22, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , international, phone sex, ,   

    the geopolitics of phone sex 

    From Spam, by Finn Brunton, pg 67-68:

    The business of phone sex is structured around arbitraging the different settlement rates—how much it costs to call a given country from the United States. A company in the United States leases lines in another country to route the calls and takes a per-minute cut of the settlement rate, with most phone sex calls routed through places like São Tomé, Moldova, and the Republic of Armenia. These millions of minutes of pay-per-minute activity were a significant source of income for the leasing countries: foreign pay-per-call operations were an enormous part of the traffic on Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT& T) circuits, for instance, making up $ 91 million of GT& T’s $ 131 million of revenues in 1995, and São Tomé kept approximately $ 500,000 of the $ 5.2 million worth of phone sex calls Americans made via their country in 1993, using the money to start a new telecom system. It is one of those strange macro/ micro moments that will recur on the fringes of spam’s history as lonely, sexually frustrated Americans unintentionally built telephone infrastructure for an island they’d never heard of off the coast of central Africa. 10

  • Mark 10:45 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    CfP: Mediated Intimacies 

    This looks great:

    CFP Mediated Intimacies DEADLINE EXTENDED

    Mediated Intimacies
    Call for Papers: Special Issue of Journal of Gender Studies to be published in March 2017
    edited by Feona Attwood, Jamie Hakim, Alison Winch
    EXTENDED DEADLINE – 30th January 2016
    In what ways does media convergence culture represent, intervene in, exploit and enable intimate relations? How is intimacy being reconfigured under neoliberalism?
    On the one hand we are living in atomized and individualistic times where relationships are increasingly strategic and competitive. On the other the media has become, as Beverly Skeggs argues, intensely intimate. This special issue on mediated intimacies aims to explore how understandings of intimacy are (re)constructed and experienced, particularly in digital cultures. In addition, we are interested in the ways in which the apparently alienated entrepreneurial self is constructed through and by forging intimate connections and simultaneously how these networks are mined and monetized by corporate culture.

    This special issue of Journal of Gender Studies is developed from a symposium held in July 2014 on Mediated Intimacies where the speakers explored, among other topics, girls’ online friendships, ‘expert’ sex advice in printed media, male seduction communities, and how pornography reconceptualises the very idea of intimacy itself.

    Potential papers could explore the affective dimensions of intimate practices reflecting the pleasures and pains of life lived under neoliberalism, including how precarity and class impact on the ways in which intimacy is forged. Because digital culture is primarily corporate driven (Taylor 2014) we are interested in how user-generated media employs self-branding strategies. For example, in the refashioning of the body or gendered and sexual identities, or the ways in which intimacy can be a form of self-promotion.

    Feminist and queer perspectives seek to expand the reach of what is constituted as belonging, love, connection and intimacy. Whereas recession culture has reestablished normative gender categories (Negra and Tasker 2014) contemporary digital cultures have the potential to challenge and rework gender and sexual identities (McGlotten 2013). This issue hopes to explore these productive tensions.

    Potential papers could also explore how sexuality, sex, sexual knowledges and sexual pleasure function by looking, for example, at Do-It-Yourself porn, sexual subcultures and alternative sex practices. A final consideration underpinning this issue is how different intimacies intersect along axes of class, race, disability, age and geographical location.

    Possible topics could include:
    ●      adapting and resisting gendered and sexed identities
    ●      forging new normative gendered identities
    ●      mediatised kinship (families, parenthood and fertility)
    ●      geolocation technology
    ●      dating and hook up apps, sex dating and relationship cultures
    ●      selfies
    ●      role of experts (e.g. sex advisors and agony aunts), including their changing meaning in peer-driven contexts
    ●      mediated romance
    ●      fitness apps and body culture
    ●      use of social networking sites, including instagram, Facebook, Twitter
    ●      self-branding
    ●      the mediation of friendship
    ●      rebranding feminism
    ●      pornography
    ●      monetization of intimacy, including big data, content generation and PR/advertising

    Please send 7000 word completed essays by 30th January 2016 through Scholar One Manuscripts:  http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjgs20/current.
    Please direct enquiries to Alison Winch, Feona Attwood and Jamie Hakim

    Publication schedule:
    30th January – deadline for submissions

    February: Papers to peer reviewers

    April: Comments to authors

    September: Authors final revisions

    December 2016: Final accepts

  • Mark 10:36 am on December 19, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    CFP: CSCW’16 Workshop on Algorithms at Work 


    CSCW 2016 workshop on Algorithms at Work
    CSCW: http://cscw.acm.org/2016 <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3a%2f%2fcscw.acm.org%2f2016&data=01%7c01%7cJAONEIL%40064d.mgd.microsoft.com%7c4e6487c269ac451ce5b208d30086852e%7c72f988bf86f141af91ab2d7cd011db47%7c1&sdata=lQc4OuFfiFbq1ebRUi9jI8iIczHE0eDOYVgWKYt4y90%3d>
    Sunday, February 28th, 2016
    San Francisco, CA, USA

    Workshop website: algorithmsatwork.wordpress.com <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3a%2f%2falgorithmsatwork.wordpress.com&data=01%7c01%7cJAONEIL%40064d.mgd.microsoft.com%7c4e6487c269ac451ce5b208d30086852e%7c72f988bf86f141af91ab2d7cd011db47%7c1&sdata=SCkHceRw2eFmloSogO64R%2ffM4pbsHkGU7GG%2f437VulA%3d>

    Submission deadline for a short position paper (1-4 pages): December, 30th, 2015
    Notification deadline: January 5th, 2016

    The algorithms at work workshop critically discusses computational algorithms and the diverse ways in which humans relate to them—focusing particularly upon work practices and investigating how algorithms facilitate, regulate, and require human labor, as well as how humans make sense of and react to them.

    The purpose of this workshop is threefold: first, to chart the diversity of algorithmic technologies as well as their application, appropriation, use and presence in work practices; second, to probe analytic vocabularies that account for empirical diversity; third, to discuss implications for design that come out of our understandings of algorithms and the technologies through which they are enacted.

    We invite participants to submit a brief 1-4 page position papers with their bio in any format. Participants should email the papers at  algorithms.cscw16@gmail.com

    Topics may include (but are not limited to):

    • Reflection on the current use of algorithms in many digital work platforms such as Uber, TaskRabbit, mTurk, Wikipedia and Upwork
    • The role of algorithms and algorithmic technologies in the workplace in all their guises
    • How workers engage in sense-making to understand algorithmic management
    • Types of new workplaces and work practices that algorithms enable
    • Challenges in building a work platforms mediated by algorithms
    • Analytic vocabularies for algorithms
    • Analysis of meanings that “algorithm” has taken on in CSCW and/or CHI research
    • Design studies or ideas for algorithms at work or technologies through which the algorithms are enacted and which enable effective use
    • Design principles that promote, rather than stile, worker agency in algorithmic workplace
    • Ethical issues for algorithms at work

    We welcome early research, as well as more developed analyses.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at algorithms.cscw16@gmail.com
    Workshop website: algorithmsatwork.wordpress.com <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3a%2f%2falgorithmsatwork.wordpress.com&data=01%7c01%7cJAONEIL%40064d.mgd.microsoft.com%7c4e6487c269ac451ce5b208d30086852e%7c72f988bf86f141af91ab2d7cd011db47%7c1&sdata=SCkHceRw2eFmloSogO64R%2ffM4pbsHkGU7GG%2f437VulA%3d>

    Susann Wagenknecht, Siegen University
    Min Kyung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University
    Caitie Lustig, UC Irvine
    Jacki O’Neill, Microsoft Research
    Himanshu Zade, Microsoft Research

  • Mark 4:49 pm on December 18, 2015 Permalink

    music I find inexplicably conducive to writing (#22) 

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