Month: November 2019

I wrote two years ago about my desire to escape what Richard Seymour calls The Twittering Machine. It’s a term which Seymour used in a series of blog posts, invoking a painting of Paul Klee. As Dominic Pettman describes it in his book Infinite Distraction: This painting depicts largely featherless avian creatures, attached to a thin wire, […]

From this extremely astute essay by Isaac Reed: A widespread ideational feature of monarchical societies (variably realized) is the investment of the common people in a king or queen as their protector against the predations of the aristocracy. The peasant, immediately subject to his lord, reaches to the monarch—the ultimate location of the sacred, the place where […]

To type the word ‘scholar’ into Google Image search leaves you immediately presented with images of bearded white men toiling away in obscurity. It has often struck me how apt this is in terms of the cultural connotations which remain attached to the idea of scholarship, even if most people realise these stereotypes aren’t representations […]

This section from Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System reminds me of a discussion about ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ we’ve been having at the Accelerated Academy. Even obviously problematic dichotomies should not easily be dispensed with because they can be used to capture interactions between changing elements,  as opposed to tracking a linear substitution of one […]

This is an extract from Social Media for Academics 2. I’m posting it to coincide with my own social media sabbatical. The social media sabbatical is an increasingly common occurrence for academics, even if many would see a name like this for what they’re doing as somewhat cringeworthy. Obviously the name doesn’t matter though. What’s important […]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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