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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 […]

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 […]

Time-packing and space-packing

From The Mediated Construction of Reality, by Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, loc 2896-2912: While there are only so many bodies of a certain size that can fit into a finite space –there are certain natural limits to spatial packing, beyond which the attempt to pack just has to stop […]

Digital labour and the epistemic fallacy 

One of the arguments which pervades Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, concerns the materiality of digital labour. As someone whose back and neck start to ache if I spend too much time at a computer, I’ve always found the tendency to assume there is something mysteriously immaterial about using […]

The Workation

I just came across this term in The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 1828: Enjoying a modicum of momentum, Kalanick leased a new office in San Francisco but had a month before he could move in. Instead of waiting, he took the whole company to Thailand, where they worked eighteen-hour […]

The self-importance of researchers

This interesting aside in Jamie Woodcock’s superb Working The Phones is worthy of further discussion. From loc 2698: Researchers often attribute a level of importance to their own research that is not shared by others, assuming that because they spend so much time on it others will want to know all […]

The Happy Unemployment of Horses

From Peter Sloterdick’s Selected Exaggerations, loc 1411-1416 Incidentally, there are almost as many horses today as there were in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, but they have all been reassigned. They are almost all leisure horses, hardly any workhorses nowadays. Isn’t it an odd comment on today’s society that only […]

Chronosolidarity

In Work’s Intimacy, Melissa Gregg pays much attention to the challenge faced by part-time workers in knowledge industries. Many of her participants within this category reported regularly finding themselves checking e-mail outside of their paid hours, something they saw as necessary to ensure they were ‘prepared’. In this way, ‘catch up […]

Digitalisation and the elimination of latency 

From Work’s Intimacy, by Melissa Gregg, loc 3594-3609: Describing the impact of the BlackBerry in 2006 –just before the iPhone changed mobile computing for keeps –Research in Motion’s John Balsillie explained his bestselling devices as “latency eliminators.” According to this logic, Balsillie argued, “successful companies have hearts … and intrinsic […]

Ambient intimacy and cultures of overwork

In a recent book about the neoliberal superstar turned aspiring world saviour Jeffrey Sachs, a quote from his wife caught my attention. On loc 2909, she describes how Sachs only sleeps for four hours a night and works constantly throughout his waking hours. Even on a family holiday, he often gave two […]