Updates from January, 2016 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 9:41 am on January 31, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , technological privilige, ,   

    The Epistemic Consequences of Technological Privilige 

    I’ve often wondered about how the working environments within which proponents of cloud computing exist have shaped their enthusiasm for it. If your work is never interrupted by the broadband going down then it’s easier to be committed to moving all your applications into the cloud. 

    In Battle of the Titans, the author quotes the former Netscape founder referring to the insights provided by early users of the web in universities. Their super fast connections allowed them to see the experiences possible through a potentially generalisable technological privilige. From loc 3099:

    Andreessen says, In 1993 it was very obvious what the world would be like if everyone had a high-speed Internet connection and a big screen because at the University of Illinois [where he was at college] we had those things. But the only reason we had those things was because the federal government was paying for them, and they were only paying for them at four universities. Our first demo for Netscape showed how you could watch Melrose Place [the hot TV show at the time] in the browser. I actually think mobile is the biggest thing our industry has ever done. Our industry was basically born around 1950 at the end of World War Two [when William Shockley invented the transistor]. And that sixty years was basically a prologue to finally being able to put a computer in everybody’s hands. We’ve never had the ability as an industry to give a computer to five billion people [the number of people with cell phones currently], and that is precisely what is happening right now.

    Is this open to serious analysis? Can we explore the relationship between technological privilige and knowledge of possibilities? I think it’s an interesting question and one that ought to be factored in to analysis of the emerging digital elite.

  • Mark 8:04 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    the messianic zeal of Eric Schmidt 

    A bit later in Battle of the Titans, Fred Vogelstein transcribes a talk he saw Eric Schmidt give at a technology conference. From loc 1904-1918:

    We have a product that allows 82 you to speak to your phone in English and have it come out in the native language of the person you are talking to. To me this is the stuff of science fiction. Imagine a near future where you never forget anything. [Pocket] computers, with your permission, remember everything—where you’ve been, what you did, who you took pictures of. I used to love getting lost, wandering about without knowing where I was. You can’t get lost anymore. You know your position to the foot, and by the way, so do your friends, with your permission. When you travel, you’re never lonely. Your friends travel with you now. There is always someone to speak to or send a picture to. You’re never bored. You’re never out of ideas because all the world’s information is at your fingertips. And this is not just for the elite. Historically, these kinds of technologies have been available only to the elites and not to the common man. If there was a trickle down, it would happen over a generation. This is a vision accessible to every person on the planet. We’re going to be amazed at how smart and capable all those people are who did not have access to our standard of living, our universities, and our culture. When they come, they are going to teach us things. And they are coming. There are about a billion smartphones in the world, and in emerging markets the growth rate is much faster than it is anywhere else. I am very excited about this.

    I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to suggest this vision can and should be analysed using the conceptual resources provided by the Sociology of Religion. In fact Schmidt has apparently used that term himself:

    But what would such a study look like in practice? I don’t think I’m qualified to do it but I’d love to help someone with a background in this area who is interested in this topic. Given the power wielded by devotees of this nascent religion, with only 5 tech companies sitting on $430 billion in cash between them, it seems urgent to better understand how these new elites interpret their own place within the world and orientate themselves to it.

  • Mark 7:49 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    things that I’ve been reading recently #18 

    • Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson
    • In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
    • Zero To One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
    • Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet by Finn Brunton
    • How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
    • Unforbidden Pleasures by Adam Phillips
    • Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
    • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
    • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
    • Depth by Lev Ac Rosen

    Graphic Novels:

    • DMZ: The Deluxe Edition by Brian Wood
  • Mark 7:31 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    the carefully cultivated public persona of Eric Schmidt 

    From Battle of the Titans loc 1846:

    Anyone who has ever worked for Schmidt will tell you that he is one of the toughest, most competitive executives walking. Ask Rubin what it was like to be on the receiving end of a few “Don’t fuck it up” lectures from Schmidt. “Not fun,” Rubin says. But in public Schmidt comes across as anything but the ambitious, competitive Silicon Valley tycoon that he is. He looks and sounds like an economics professor. Dressed typically in khakis and either a sweater or a blazer and tie, he goes out of his way to make journalists feel comfortable in his presence. He often solicits follow-ups to make sure, as he often says, that he has answered your question “crisply.” He is one of the rare executives unafraid to answer questions head-on. His answers are filled with facts, data, and history. He always has an agenda, but he rarely appears evasive. Most CEOs avoid detailed discussions with journalists at all costs. They’d rather seem evasive than miss an opportunity to repeat a talking point. Schmidt prefers to overwhelm with facts and knowledge. He’s not afraid to talk about facts that don’t support his thesis. He just supplies other facts that do.

  • Mark 12:50 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , process theory, sociomateriality   

    theorising socio-materiality: strong and weak processes 

    In this extremely important paper, Alistair Mutch offers a realist critique of sociomateriality which I hope to further develop in my own work in the not too distant future. In it he argues that sociomaterial “approaches tend towards a perverse (given the promise of the concept) neglect of the specificity of the systems involved and an inability to deal adequately with the broader context of practice” (28). He calls instead for a “non-conflationary approach, in which the social and the material are held apart for the purpose of exploring their interplay” (29). His point, drawing on Margaret Archer’s work, concerns the necessity of analytically distinguishing between domains (in this case the social and the material) in order to explain the sequencing of their interaction over time. Failing to draw this analytical distinction, correctly affirming reciprocal interaction on a philosophical level without offering conceptual instruments to untangle this empirically, means that “an approach which is advocated in order to bring matter to the centre pushes it to the margins, producing what is a human-centred account underneath the superficial rhetoric” (31).

    This is an enormously important point which is hard to convey adequately in the space of a paper, let alone in a blog post. Theorising co-constitution entails a slide into denying the properties and powers of the co-constituting elements: entities and their interactions are subsumed into pure process. Elsewhere Mutch contrasts strong and weak process theory: realists reject the former but accept the latter. The problem with strong process theory is that it fails to account for the variable sequencing of processes. Not all processes are equal… there are periods of flux and periods of relative stability, periods where one entity is more influential than the other, as well as periods of something akin to the ceaseless dance of co-constitution implicit within strong process theory. The problem with co-constitution is that it obscures this variability. It doesn’t make it impossible to theorise but it means that any such substantive theorising proceeds in spite of, rather than because of, the more general concepts in play. In this case, socio-materialism most frequently ends up being a matter of interpreting the material through the social such that little attention is paid to the independent properties and powers of specific material structures, problematic because these are ultimately what are activated in a particular social context. But the specificity of the social can often also be lost because the conceptual framework inclines analysts to immediately look towards the material, rather than pausing to consider the specific social properties and powers in relation to and interaction with which material structures are bringing about observable effects. I’m not sure how clear this explanation is, probably less so than in Mutch’s paper, but the point feels very clear in my own head. It just needs further elaboration.

  • Mark 7:14 am on January 28, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , secrecy   

    the creative destruction of intra-organisational conflict 

    From Battle of the Titans loc 1056:

    From his office on the second floor of IL 2 on Apple’s campus, Forstall started pulling in some of the best engineers from around the company, creating lockdown areas all over the building as he went. “If you were working weekends, you’d see the construction crews come in all the time putting up walls, security doors … everything … so that by Monday there was a new lockdown area. I’ve never seen walls put up that fast. Looking back, it’s almost comical to think about,” said Shuvo Chatterjee. “As they reconfigured, some of us were moving almost once every two months. For a while, I just kept everything permanently in boxes because I knew if I unpacked, I’d have to pack up and move again right away.” “It became a maze,” Nitin Ganatra said. “You’d open this door and the previous door would close behind you. It was Sarah Wincester-y in some ways.”

  • Mark 6:55 am on January 28, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    business for punks from the bottom-up 

    In the last week, I’ve been exploring the notion of ‘business for punks’, the philosophy propounded by the founder of BrewDog, as the formulation of an increasingly dominant ethos in which ‘disruptive’ corporate activity is valorised as anti-authoritarian. I’ve been thinking about this mostly from the top-down, as a characteristic of founders and CEOs, but I’d also like to understand how this culture manifests itself from the bottom-up, possibly amongst people aspiring to be founders and CEOs one day, but also amongst rank and file staff. 

    In Battle of the Titans, a book about the feud between Apple and Google, I just encountered an interesting description of the eventual founder of Android’s early career, focusing on his putative lack of respect for authority. From loc 909:

    At General Magic, an Apple spin-off that wrote some of the first software for handheld computers, he and some colleagues built lofts above their cubicles so they could more efficiently work around the clock.

    Get that? Building a loft above your cubicle so you can absolutely subordinate your life to your (cubicle-bound) work shows a lack of respect for authority. Such a weird proposition demands hermeneutic insight: my proposal would be this manifests the ‘business for punks’ ethos, such that unsanctioned action is seen as disruptive, even if it reinforces rather than conflicts with existing power structures.

  • Mark 8:42 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink

    CfP: Freedom and Control of Expression in the Digital Aftermath of the 2015 Paris Attacks 

    This looks great! One of those things too far outside my area to contribute to but I’d love to attend, if only there were unlimited time and travel budget in my life:

    Freedom and Control of Expression in the Digital Aftermath of the 2015 Paris Attacks,
    Workshop in Toulouse, France, October 13 & 14 2016 (website)

    Call for papers
    After the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices were attacked in January 2015, debate
    and discussion flourished about freedom of expression, in France and
    abroad. This debate intensified after the Paris attacks of November
    13th. At the epicenter is the role of the Internet and free speech. An
    enormous wave of worldwide indignation expressed itself after both
    events, including a deluge of hashtag solidarity. But this social media
    storm eventually revealed cultural, political and social divides inside
    France, as well as globally. Much like after the 9/11 attacks, France
    passed laws allowing state surveillance of online communication. At the
    same time, social media censored posts about the attacks that were
    considered to be provocative or shocking.

    The variety of reactions, including indifference or, on the contrary, the expression of very different points of view – sometimes even surveilled or censored – showed that one hashtag is neither unifying nor a universal view shared by everyone.  This event magnified the notion that the digital public
    sphere is a conflicting arena of not just what is being said (or kept
    quiet) online but also what the limits are. Undoubtedly, the Internet is
    the main means of massive public expression for millions. Yet it is
    still the result of a complex set of power relations established between
    professional media, amateur content producing communities, which
    sometimes defend particular interests, as well as corporate
    intermediaries. The resulting online content embodies rival editorial,
    political and industrial strategies. Recently, scholars have begun to
    question the idea of digital participatory democracy in terms of a level
    playing field.

    This workshop aims to progress this debate by addressing the following central question:

    Who controls freedom of expression and online content in the digital era, and how?

    Embedded in this question are the challenges and constraints of expression, such as the tension between a bottom-up or top-down digital public sphere or who is
    left out as a digital player. Also central to this question are the role
    of three broad actors: the state, market and civil society. Possible
    topics for submissions include the following:

    – What is the government’s role – from subsidizing digital
    participation to censorship and surveillance? What is the role of
    political ideology, broadly defined, in freedom of expression? What is
    the relationship between media institutions and the state when it comes
    to online free speech?


    • What is the interplay of market dominance, algorithms, censorship and

    Big Data? How are transformations in news production and consumption,
    especially in terms of platforms like Facebook, shaping freedom of
    expression? How do different types of capitalist economic systems shape
    freedom of expression? How do market constraints upon corporate media,
    and mainstream journalism shape freedom of expression?

    Civil society
    – Who is creating content, and if so, who is listening, watching and
    clicking? How does race, class, ethnicity and gender factor in? Who is
    marginalized?  How effective is Internet use as an extension or part of
    activist and social movement practices vis-à-vis political expression.
    What is the role of alternative, independent and citizen media in this
    digital era of online expression?

    Target Audience and Scholars: This is an interdisciplinary workshop but geared toward sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, economists and communication scholars. Scholars at all levels are encouraged to participate. A small number of travel grants may be available to permit outstanding junior
    scholars (under 35 years at the date of the conference) to attend.
    Please state in your paper submission whether you wish to apply for such
    a travel grant.

    Dates: October 13 & 14, 2016

    Format: The workshop will feature speakers, panels and paper presentations.

    Full paper submissions based on empirical research of conference topics
    (maximum 25 pages including references and tables/figures) due by
    Friday, April 1. Theoretical papers will also be considered.

    Please submit papers to https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=fceda15pa. We will notify you of acceptance by May 6. You will have to create an account in Easychair in order to submit.

    Registration: Register for the conference by September 15. Space is limited. Registration information coming soon.

    Cost: Free

    Location: Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse, France.

    Organizers: Jen Schradie (IAST), Sandra Vera Zambrano (Sciences Po Toulouse – LASSP), Nikos Smyrnaios (University of Toulouse – LERASS).

    Email: freedomcontrol.conf@iast.fr

  • Mark 7:33 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink

    About Today 

    Today you were far away
    and I didn’t ask you why
    What could I say
    I was far away
    You just walked away
    and I just watched you
    What could I say

    How close am I to losing you

    Tonight you just close your eyes
    and I just watch you
    slip away

    How close am I to losing you

    Hey, are you awake
    Yeah I’m right here
    Well can I ask you about today

    How close am I to losing you
    How close am I to losing

  • Mark 6:16 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    the obsessive secrecy of Apple 

    From Battle of the Titans loc 543. I’m intruiged by non-disclosure of non-disclosure agreements: why stop there? Surely this could be grounds for an infinite loop? More seriously, I wonder how this effects the framing of the proposition to potential staff: is there a performative element to this in order to convey the importance of the project? How is this received by staff?

    On top of all that, Jobs’s obsession with secrecy meant that despite being exhausted from working eighty hours a week, the few hundred engineers and designers working on the project couldn’t talk about the project to anyone else. If Apple found out you’d told a friend in a bar, or even your spouse, you could be fired. Before a manager could ask you to join the project, you had to sign a nondisclosure agreement in his office. Then, after he told you what the project was, you had to sign another document confirming that you had indeed signed the NDA and would tell no one. “We put a sign on over the front door of the iPhone building that said FIGHT CLUB because the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club,” Forstall would explain in his court testimony. “Steve didn’t want 22 to hire anyone from outside of Apple to work on the software, but he said I could hire anyone in the company I wanted,” Forstall said. “So I’d bring recruits into my office. Sit them down and tell them, ‘You are a superstar at Apple. Whatever you are doing now, you’ll do fine. But I have another project that I want you to consider. I can’t tell you what it is. All I can say is that you will have to give up untold nights and weekends and that you will work harder than you have ever worked in your life.”

    Loc 558 discusses the role that the performance of secrecy can play in drawing demarcations within Apple:

    One of the most obvious manifestations of Jobs’s obsession with secrecy was the growth of lockdown areas all over campus—places that those not working on the iPhone could no longer go. “Each building is split in half, and there is this corridor that runs through the middle of them with common areas, and after one weekend they just put doors around the common areas so that if you were not on the project, and you were used to using that space, it was now off-limits,” Grignon said. “Steve loved this stuff. He loved to set up division. But it was a big ‘fuck you’ to the people who couldn’t get in. Everyone knows who the rock stars are in a company, and when you start to see them all slowly get plucked out of your area and put in a big room behind glass doors that you don’t have access to, it feels bad.”

  • Mark 6:09 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    the psychology of business for punks 

    I wrote last week about the notion of ‘business for punks’ propounded by the founder of BrewDog. This little snippet from Battle of the Titans reflects a similar ethos. Is Silicon Valley full of people who understand themselves as ‘doing business for punks’: is this the ethos underlying a commitment to ‘disruption’? From loc 333:

    Jobs was personally offended 11 by this way of doing business and wanted no part of it. “We’re not the greatest at selling to the Fortune 500, and there are five hundred of them—five hundred CIOs [chief information officers] that are orifices you have to go through to get” that business. “In the cell phone business there are five. We don’t even like dealing with five hundred companies. We’d rather run an ad for millions and let everyone make up their own mind. You can imagine what we thought about dealing with five,” he said during an onstage interview at the All Things D conference in May 2003. Translation: I am not about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to have a bunch of suits tell me how to build and sell my phone.

    The assumed meritocracy of appealing directly to the public is counter posed to the stuffy intermediaries with a vested interest in established way of doing things.

  • Mark 9:52 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , vertical integration   

    The Platform Wars 

    From Battle of the Titans, loc 113-127. This dynamic seems likely to intensify with time:

    A lot of what we buy via Apple’s iTunes store—apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, etc.—doesn’t work easily on Android devices or at all, and vice versa. And both companies know that the more money each of us spends on apps and other media from one store, the less likely we are to switch to the other. They know we will ask, “Why rebuy all that content just to buy an Android phone instead of an iPhone?” Many companies have free apps that work on both platforms, but even having to redownload them, and re-set them up, is enough to keep many users from switching. In Silicon Valley parlance, it’s a platform war. Whether your example is Microsoft with Windows and Office, eBay with auctions, Apple with the iPod, Amazon with books, Google with search, or Facebook with social media, history suggests that the winner in fights like this gets more than 75 percent of the market share, while the loser struggles to stay in that business.

  • Mark 3:00 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: adam phillips, , , , ,   

    on nihilism and hope 

    A remarkable passage by the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips at the end of his Forbidden Pleasures, pg 181. We have to choose between them: the stark nature of the dichotomy is often unclear but this is little more than wilful obsfucation, on the part of the social order if not the individual. To give up on hope ultimately entails nihilism.

    The idea that it would have been better not to have been born presents the future as without promise, and the past before the past as desirable. The unknowing and the unknowable is preferred to the apparently all too known. Not the pleasure of there being no pain and no pleasure, and not the desire for more pleasure than pain, but release from all the pleasure–pain calculations, the appropriately phrased nineteenth-century ‘hedonistic calculus’. It is the ultimate wish: the wish not to be done with pleasure and pain, but for the pleasure and pain never to have begun. More ambitious, in some ways, than suicide or a death wish, the desire not to have been born is the desire to have been exempted from all such considerations. It spells the futility of all the questions, all the preoccupations, all the desires, that being alive presents. But only in retrospect, when such a state can only be imagined; and you have to be alive, of course, to imagine it. The precondition for wanting never to have been born is to have been born. It is not a wish for an end before the beginning, but a wish for the abolition of beginnings and endings. It is the imagining of no imagining, a release from the need to be released from anything. Instead of the so-called perfectibility of man –the sense that there can be better future versions of ourselves, more just societies, more equable economic conditions, the hope in anticipation –it promotes the irrelevance of all ameliorative projects. As though every wish, except the wish to have never started wishing, were a fundamental misrecognition of what life was really like.

  • Mark 9:20 am on January 26, 2016 Permalink

    FutureVision?! Which life do we want? 

    FutureVision?! Which life do we want?
    Vienna, 30 March – 1 April, 2016

    The European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research will be held in Vienna from
    March 30 to April 1, 2016. It will be the first pop up conference meeting in the field of Systems Science, called emcsr avantgarde. The name reflects the vision and the core of the programme. We are looking forward to setting the stage for the contemporary avantgarde of Systems Science and Practice, connecting the achievements of the past with inspiring potentials for the future.

    The new emcsr avantgarde will be the “talent” scout event in the field of Systems Science. An international scientific jury (selection committee) of renowned experts in their respective fields (philosophy, science, engineering, design, and art) will select the competition attendees and their submissions. Every selected researcher is a nominee for “The Ludwig von Bertalanffy Young Scientist Award” donated by the main organizer of the event, the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems  Science (BCSSS). The winner will be chosen through real-time voting by the audience of the emcsr avantgarde meetings. It is the first prototype for “scientific talent” scouting independent of the age and career status of the candidates.

    The BCSSS as a role model is also eager to meet further potential candidates, master and PhD students, for their upcoming scholarship programme (starting in 2017) through the event, independent from the playful award contest. This is a unique opportunity to discover the next generation of systems researchers. We intend to invite universities, foundations, donors, startups and investors as well as human resource managers to meet their future potential talents at the emcsr avantgarde.

    The emcsr avantgarde will also offer satellite workshops. These workshops are focused on a specific topic, organized by an invited group of already established researchers, and offer opportunities to showcase and further elaborate contemporary trends in Cybernetics and Systems Science.

    The emcsr avantgarde will be intentionally a smaller exclusive conference meeting. We want to ensure that the selection of submissions reflect quality, thus the referee process will be rigorous. We also want to ensure that we enable vivid interaction at the conference meetings through the number of attendees.

    The emcsr avantgarde is the 23rd European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research in Vienna building on 40 years of tradition. In 1972, the emcsr offered its first forum for discussion of converging ideas and new aspects of different scientific disciplines. The emcsr was co-founded by the Austrian Society for Cybernetics Studies, chaired by Robert Trappl, which established the Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Vienna, too. Since then every two years senior scientists met in Vienna to present in workshops and symposia their latest research results and discuss the rapid developments in our society. From 2016 on the main stage is set for the young researchers, too. We are very happy that Robert Trappl will be present at the reinvented emcsr avantgarde, when we establish the milestone for the 21stcentury scientific avantgarde connected to the roots of the provocative avantgarde of the 70s.

    If you are an avant-gardist, conscious innovator, provocative thought leader, researcher, engineer, geek, philosopher, designer, artist, activist, daring futurist, visionary…
    If you are looking for and creating the next impactful advances in technology, social practice or natural science, we would love to feature you, to connect you, to promote you.

    What do you see?

    And what are we able to co-create for future oriented life concepts and thrivable ecologies, a flourishing planet, meaningful technologies, a futurable humanity?

    krebs circle of creativitySource: Oxman, N. (2016) Krebs Cycle of Creativity (KCC). In: Ito, J. Design and Science. Can design advance science, and can science advance design? http://www.pubpub.org/pub/designandscience, last modified date: 13.01.2016.

    Fields of Research and Applications include but are not limited to:

    • Philosophical concepts and their development
    • Systems philosophy, philosophy of information and philosophy of technology
    • Cognitive studies
    • Linguistics, and Communication Studies
    • Social concepts and insights from Humanities
    • Evolutionary systems, theories of living systems and theories of social systems
    • Biodiversity and Agriculture
    • Urban living (e.g. smart cities, sustainable cities) and rural developments
    • Architecture
    • Material Science, and Biomimicry
    • Economic alternatives, models and their prototypes
    • Innovation and Business Ecosystems
    • Socio-technical and socio-ecological innovations
    • Public services and supply networks, energy, water, traffic and public transport systems
    • Information technologies and telecommunication
    • Mobility and mobile communication
    • Computer Science in the perspective of its social context
    • Human Technology, Human Machine Interaction, Human Computer Interaction
    • Assessment of technologies
    • Interdependencies of natural – social – technological systems
    • Biological, systemic and computational design strategies
    • Art, and Design
    • Social Systems Design, Transformation Design
    • Medicine, Health care, and Life Science
    • Education
    • Political systems, democracy, participation
    • Conflict transformation
    • Governmental and governance systems
  • Mark 9:14 am on January 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , making the familiar strange   

    Making The Familiar Strange: A Festival of Critical Social Thought 

    A small collective is currently in the early stages of planning Making The Familiar Strange: A Festival of Critical Social Thought for summer 2017. See here for some background to the event. If you’d like to get involved, we’re having a planning meeting:

    Tuesday 23rd February 12:00-16:00.
    Room G05 (ground floor) of Cloth Hall Court
    Leeds Beckett University
    Directions: http://qu2.leedsmet.ac.uk/cloth-hall-court-leeds.htm

    All welcome! Please pass on this message to anyone you know who might be interested.

  • Mark 8:27 am on January 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: burnout, , , marissa mayer, , work culture,   

    the discourse of ‘burn out’ in silicon valley 

    A weird little snippet I came across from Marissa Mayer, former Google high-flyer and now head of Yahoo, on how to avoid burnout by “empowering” yourself to “work really hard for a long period of time”. Find one thing you absolutely refuse to miss then completely subordinate the rest of your life to your work, safe in the knowledge that you have ‘your rhythm’:

    Avoiding burnout isn’t about getting three square meals or eight hours of sleep. It’s not even necessarily about getting time at home. I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful. I tell people: Find your rhythm. Your rhythm is what matters to you so much that when you miss it you’re resentful of your work. I had a young guy, just out of college, and I saw some early burnout signs. I said, “Think about it and tell me what your rhythm is.” He came back and said, “Tuesday night dinners. My friends from college, we all get together every Tuesday night and do a potluck. If I miss it, the whole rest of the week I’m like, ‘I’m just not going to stay late tonight. I didn’t even get to do my Tuesday night dinner.’ ” So now we know that Nathan can never miss Tuesday night dinner again. It’s just that simple. You’re going to be so much more productive the rest of the week if you get that.


  • Mark 8:20 am on January 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , online action, ,   

    anonymity, velocity, extensity and traceability as characteristics of online action 

    From pg 42 of Being Digital Citizens by Evelyn Ruppert and Engin Isin:

    The first concerns anonymity. Being anonymous in cyberspace has several complex meanings that are different from being anonymous or even making rights claims to being anonymous. It is not surprising that one of the most recognizable if troubling acts on the Internet is by citizen subjects called Anonymous. If we distinguish privacy from anonymity, we realize that anonymity on the Internet has spawned a new political development. If privacy is the right to determine what one decides to keep to herself and what to share publicly, anonymity concerns the right to act without being identified. The second concerns the velocity of acting through the Internet. For better or for worse, it is almost possible to perform an act on the Internet faster than one can think. The third concerns the extensity of acting through the Internet. The number of addressees and destinations that are possible for acting through the Internet is staggering. So, too, are the boundaries, borders, and jurisdictions that an act can traverse. The fourth concerns traceability. If it is performed on the Internet, an act can be traced in ways that are practically impossible outside the Internet. Taken together, anonymity, velocity, extensity, and traceability are questions that are resignified by bodies acting through the Internet.

  • Mark 11:18 pm on January 25, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    The origin of the phrase “cloud computing” 

    Very interesting snippet at the end of How Google Works, loc 3859:

    It’s called “cloud computing” because the old programs to draw network schematics surrounded the icons for servers with a circle. A cluster of servers in a network diagram had several overlapping circles, which resembled a cloud.

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