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What Happened? The end of modernisation

In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating […]

Call for Abstracts – Lives of Data v2.0: Computing, Money, Media Workshop

We are excited to announce the *‘Lives of Data v2.0: Computing, Money, Media’ Workshop, on 05-06 January 2018*. *Call for Abstracts* The first ‘Lives of Data’ Workshop <http://sarai.net/lives-of-data-workshop-january-5-7-2017/&gt;, in January 2017, initiated engaging, cross-disciplinary conversations <http://sarai.net/lives-of-data-workshop-report-recordings/&gt; on the historical, cultural, political, and technological conditions of data-driven knowledge production and circulation […]

Daniel Bell, Transgression and the Alt-Right

The important argument I took from Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies is that the ‘alt-right’ reflect transgression detaching from progressivism. The idea that an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct is inherently progressive ceases to be tenable when progressive movements have institutionalised laws, rules and codes that serve progressive ends. […]

CFP: Platform Urbanism

Association of American Geographers Conference 2018 New Orleans, USA, 10-14 April 2018 Organizers Susan Moore (University College London) Scott Rodgers (Birkbeck, University of London) Sponsors Digital Geographies Specialty Group Media and Communication Geography Specialty Group Urban Geography Speciality Group Outline Talk about ‘platforms’ is today all-pervasive: platform architecture, platform design, […]

Defensive Elites

In the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I term defensive elites. This line of thought began with curiosity about the much-reported hyperbole with which some influential figures within the financial elite of the United States greeted what would barely count as mildly redistributive […]

The Digital Monad

From Counterculture to Cyberculture, by Fred Turner, presents the fascinating history through which avowed cultural radicals of the 1960s came to generate the present day dogmas of working culture under digital capitalism. In the last week, I’ve written about this in terms of the digital nomad and the digital hipster. […]

The Ideal of the Digital Nomad

In From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner analyses how digital technology came to be seen as capable of liberating the individual, freeing them from the shackles of petty attachments to organisations and places. This is a complex story but it’s one in which cultural entrepreneurs figure prominently, carving out modes […]

Conduits for variety

In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212: For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who […]

The lost lure of abundance

There’s an interesting extract on pg 52-53 of Infinite Distraction, by Dominic Pettman, discussing the seductions of abundance under conditions of scarcity: Those readers old enough to remember what it was like to live before the Internet will recall the strange phenomenon where the general noosphere seduced us by its […]

The ascent of the spiralists

I wrote recently about a short article by Michael Burawoy in which he bemoaned the ascendancy of the spiralists within universities. These relentlessly ambitious new entrants to the university system see it as a theatre within which they can make themselves known, spiralling into the university before once more spiralling out of […]

Elites preparing for disaster

There’s a disturbing snippet in Naomi Klein’s latest book, No Is Not Enough, discussing the growing market for disaster-preparation amongst well-heeled elites. While it’s possible there’s a large element of conspicuous consumption at work here, amongst people who have more disposable income than things they can buy with it, it […]

Online armies at your command

Towards the end of Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle discusses the chilling effect liable to ensue from the online harassment which journalists critical of the alt-right often now find themselves subject to. From pg 118: Multiple journalists and citizens have described in horrifying detail the attacks and threats against those who […]

How widespread is shadow mobilisation?

In the last few years, I’ve become interested in what I think of as shadow mobilisation: assembling people under false pretences and/or in a way intended to create a misleading impressions of the mobilisation. This is often framed in terms of astroturfing – fake grass roots – however it appears […]