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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, […]

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 dark future of mediatization

In the last year, Facebook Live has been plagued by occasional headlines reporting on shocking instances of violence being streamed through the platform. The sporadic quality of these reports easily creates an impression that this is exception. There have always been violent crimes, right? Therefore it stands to reason that […]

The precursors to curation

While many see the term ‘curation’ as modish and vague, I see it as an important concept to make sense of how we can orientate ourselves within a changing cultural landscape. However I can sympathise with the thrust of these objections, in so far as they take issue with a […]

The Conspiracy of Cars

From What is the Future? by John Urry, loc 2554-2570: This car-based suburbanization is neither natural nor inevitable, and in the US partly stems from a ‘conspiracy’. Between 1927 and 1955, General Motors, Mack Manufacturing (trucks), Standard Oil (now Exxon), Philips Petroleum, Firestone Tire & Rubber and Greyhound Lines conspired to […]

The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine

Earlier today I saw a fascinating demonstration at Manchester Science Museum of a replica Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (nicked named ‘Baby’). This was the first computer with electronic memory: The facilitator of the demonstration gave a wonderfully clear explanation of how the physical mechanisms of the machine operated. I’d understood the principle of how […]

The cultural significance of blogging

In his Uberworked and Underpaid, Trebor Scholz offers an important reflection on the cultural significance of blogging. While its uptake has been exaggerated, dependent upon questionable assumptions concerning the relationship between users and blogs, it nonetheless represents a transformation of and expansion of cultural agency which needs to be taken […]

The embedded digital economy 

One of the things that I liked about Platform Capitalism, by Nick Srineck, was its concern to avoid analysing the tech sector as sui generis. By situating it in social and economic history, we are left with a much richer account of where it came from, why it is the […]

The duality of the platform: users and workers

There’s an interesting passage in Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, in which he discusses the contrasting experience of Amazon Mechanical Turk by users and workers. From loc 719: While AMT is profiting robustly, 11 it has –following the observations of several workers –not made significant updates to its user […]

The Political Economy of Attention

I love this concise formulation by Trebor Scholz in Uberworked and Underpaid. From loc 338: Every day, one billion people in advanced economies have between two billion and six billion spare hours among them. 13 Capturing and monetizing those hours is the goal of platform capitalism.

Airbnb and the Myth of ‘Us’

Reading this section in Brad Stone’s The Upstarts, it occurred to me this faith* displayed by the airbnb founders is an interesting example of what Nick Couldry describes as ‘the myth of us’. From loc 2171: EJ had also raised fundamental questions about the safety of users on its site […]

Technology, regulation and disruption

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not […]

The cultural lure of Silicon Valley

Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 337-353 describes Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky’s preoccupation with Silicon Valley as a dissatisfied recent graduate of design school:  At the time he was obsessively following the story of the fantastically successful founders of the video-sharing site YouTube; he was spending hours on the site as […]