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The original sin of the digital utopians

There’s a fascinating mea culpa in Jaron Lanier’s new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. On loc 411 he describes how early design decisions, inspired by the libertarian ethos taking hold within the tech community, created the openings for the global monopolies we now see emerging: […]

The Political Ontology of Platforms

These notes are for the fifth and final week of the CPGJ platform capitalism intensive reading group. One of the themes running through the readings over the five weeks has been the political valence of platforms and its relationship to our analysis of them. My own instinct is that valorising […]

CfP: AI, Robotics and Responsibility

This looks fascinating: FROM THE HRC-SCHOLARS LISTSERV: Dear members, Please find attached for the call for papers from my institution’s anniversary conference. My institution being TILT (The Institute for Law, Technology and Society in Tilburg, The Netherlands), you might find this one a bit out there but we have several […]

The quiet revolution of deindustrialization

One of the prevailing motifs of the Trumpist era has been the recognition on all sides of the social and political costs of deindustrialization, even if this recognition is typically subsumed into a prior political stance. There’a really powerful account on pg 52 of George Packer’s Unwinding which conveys the scale of […]

ALW2: 2nd Workshop on Abusive Language Online

ALW2: 2nd Workshop on Abusive Language Online EMNLP 2018 (Brussels, Belgium), October 31st or November 1st, 2018 Submission deadline: July 20th, 2018 Website: https://sites.google.com/view/alw2018 <https://sites.google.com/view/alw2018&gt; Submission link: https://www.softconf.com/emnlp2018/ALW2/ <https://www.softconf.com/emnlp2018/ALW2/&gt; Overview Interaction amongst users on social networking platforms can enable constructive and insightful conversations and civic participation; however, on many sites […]

Social Media and The Demotic Imaginary

One of the most prominent tropes of social media is the crowd. As the cyber-utopian Clay Shirky put it: here comes everybody. This endlessly repeated motif sees social media in terms of the people. Where once there were a few commentators who dominated the airwaves, now everybody has their say online. Where […]

The epistemic privilege of platforms

What is the relationship between platforms and their users? I’ve been thinking about this all morning while reading The Know‑It‑Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, by Noam Cohen. On loc 277 he writes: In fact, tech companies believe that through artificial intelligence tools they […]

Trump and the ascent of the spiralists

In a recent article, Michael Burawoy warned about what he termed the spiralists. These are “people who spiral in from outside, develop signature projects and then hope to spiral upward and onward, leaving the university behind to spiral down”. While he was concerned with university leaders, I observed at the time […]