Month: December 2019

The sustainability implications of 5G are increasingly recognised, as this overview from GSMA makes clear. Note that this is the industry’s own trade body rather than a pressure group external to it: Energy is becoming even more important due to climate change and sustainability considerations. The potential increase in data traffic (up to 1,000 times […]

From Rana Foroohar‘s Don’t Be Evil pg 245-246. It’s interesting to read this in light of quite how much Uber burned trying (and failing) to break into the Chinese market: As many Googlers have told me, China is considered the world’s petri dish for digital technology. Even as it’s become more repressive, it’s become more tech saturated. China […]

This monologue by Mrs Wilson at the end of Gosford Park immediately made me consider how digital assistants, driven by datasets such as Amazon’s buying and viewing history for a long term users, might one day come to constitute an ideal of service as thick as the one we see represented in films like this: What […]

On pg 258-259 of her Don’t Be Evil, Rana Foroohar poses a question which will become more urgent with each passing year, binding political economy and digital governance together in a way which will define the fabric of social life: Is digital innovation best suited to an environment of decentralization, in which many firms in […]

From Rana Foroohar‘s Don’t Be Evil pg 208: At the very least, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the other systemically important platforms should be forced to disclose political advertising in the same way that television, print, and radio firms do. When in the financial markets, they should be forced to stay in their own sandbox the […]

Now I’ve made my escape from Twitter I’m doing more long form writing: Social Media for Academics 2 A series of short videos introducing the book  An article for LSE Impact blog about Why I’ve Left the Twittering Machine An article for LSE Impact blog about the dangers of academic celebrity A guest post for […]

From his Plural Subjects pg 5: It is not that sociologists need philosophers to dictate their theories, but rather that philosophy – or at least a proportion of philosophical reflections – can sometimes contribute usefully to illuminating the concepts used by sociologists in their inquiries into the social world. There is such a fear in […]

In The Platform Society Jose Van Dijck, Thomas Poell and Martijn De Waal develop “a comprehensive view of a connective world where platforms have penetrated to the heart of societies – affecting institutions, economic transactions, and social and cultural practices – hence forcing governments and states to adjust their legal and democratic structures”. This penetration […]

I’m going to be thinking about this section from the (superb) Convivial Society for the rest of the day: Ivan Illich, whose work has played an important role in shaping my own thinking about technology, was not one for measured critiques or timid incrementalism. He targeted not only the usual culprits in his critique of […]

Call for papers At a critical time when European solidarity is questioned, the 8th IARS International Annual Conference will launch the findings of the Erasmus+ “Youth Empowerment and Innovation Project (YEIP)”. Led by young people and coordinated by Professor Theo Gavrielides, YEIP was delivered in partnership with 18 EU partners. YEIP constructed and tested an […]

My activist career began with the campaign against the Iraq war in 2002/2003 when I was a teenager. What political agency I have formed against the backdrop of a New Labour quasi-hegemony which made parliamentary politics seem turgid while nonetheless providing, in combination with being born into steep upward mobility, what I realise in retrospect […]

One of many dangers with acceleration rhetoric is that it creates the impression of what Filip Vostal calls a ‘mega force’, rampaging through society in a way that effects all individuals with equal significance. The reality is that existing resources shape our capacity to respond to acceleration in a way which means a problem for […]

From Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System pg 101: Political information cycles rest upon a subtle political economy of time. This involves not only the often-rehearsed “speeding up” or “efficiency” of communication but also the importance of continuous attention and the ability to create and to act on information in a timely manner. Those who […]

I’ve written in the past about the Great Disruptive Project engaged in by firms like Uber, seeking change in the world in a way which expresses a moral vision, albeit often somewhat inchoately. This is something which emanates from the founders and plays a crucial role in establishing their charismatic authority and to varying degrees […]

This is a fascinating observation by Andrew Chadwick on pg 114-115 of The Hybrid Media System concerning Wikileak’s strategic agency with regards to the circulation of data, recognising that ‘information might want to be free’ but the sheer fact of its freedom is insufficient to bring about an effect in the world. As he notes […]

It’s going to be a while before I feel capable of writing something about this disaster of an election but I’m saving this thread by Guardian media editor Jim Waterson to come back to because it raises an extremely interesting point: to what extent can what many perceived as intentional bias on the part of […]

This offers a fascinating insight into Google’s (apparent) astroturfing operation concerning the European copyright directive: Constantin van Lijnden writing in the top German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has uncovered the financial link between YouTubers in the paid service of Google to “protest” in favor of the multinational monopolist’s interests in the European Copyright Directive (aka “Article […]