Category: Archive

Friday, 03 April 2020, 11am-5pm in London, UK  Register online here: https://www.srhe.ac.uk/events/details.asp?eid=456 There is widespread agreement that universities are undergoing a profound transformation but much less agreement on what these changes mean and how we should characterise them. The Digital University Network has stressed the role of new technologies in transforming practice within the university. […]

This passage from Tim Wu’s The Master Switch pg 225 offers a useful account for making sense of the rise of a figure like Lawrence Fox. When the ‘arms race of exposure’ is more intense than ever because social media means a great many of us have entered into it, new strategies become necessary to […]

There’s an interesting parallel between Durkheim’s conception of social regulation and what Archer calls ‘bounding variety’ and Cybernetics describes as ‘attenuating variety’. As Durkheim writes on pg 300 in a discussion of marriage and divorce, “One cannot avoid looking outside the place where one is when one no longer feels the ground to be solid […]

From Tim Wu’s Attention Merchants pg 202: Among the sources of such comfort would be AOL’s infamous chat rooms. Chat rooms had actually been invented by CompuServe in the 1980s (under that ’70s handle “CB simulator”), but AOL allowed the creation of “private rooms,” which anyone could open, hosting up to twenty-three total strangers. By […]

This extract from Tim Wu’s Attention Merchants pg 192-193 makes clear how the immersive character of video games has been treated as addictive from the outset. It raises the question of where the former characteristic ends and the latter begins: In both markets Space Invaders was a sudden and unexpected success—nothing quite like it had […]

I’ve written before about the ontological assumptions inherent in the framing of the attention economy. To consider the issue in economic terms tends to imply the fungibility, commensurability and valorisation of attention. There’s much of value here but it easily overlap is the quality of attention, described usefully by Tim Wu on pg 125 of […]

From Richard Seymour’s wonderful Patreon blog: It was in this context that what Evans calls “communal listening”, in which the Führer’s speeches were broadcast to workplaces and schools each week, worked. They were, yes, propaganda. But they were also a form of entertainment, organising a grotesquely celebrified relationship between leader and followers. They were glamorous, […]

The popular character of this diagnosis, summarised by Tim Wu on pg 6 of his Attention Merchants, poses the question of how we should treat it as common sense, in the Durkheimian tradition of skepticism about received wisdom. How widespread is this? To what extent does it misrepresent the nature of the problem? To what […]

A provisional reflection on where I’ve got to six years after my PhD and where it is I want to go with my research over the next six years There are a wide range of topics I have worked on in the last decade: online communities, social movements, digital scholarship, realist social theory, the transformation […]

The philosopher Daniel Little has long been my favourite theory blogger. I was so pleased to read this thoughtful reflection on the scholarly purposes of social media which included a generous endorsement of Social Media for Academics: The appearance of a second edition of Mark Carrigan’s Social Media for Academics is therefore timely. Both young academics — […]

There’s a fascinating connection between this account on Suicide pg 46-47 and what Bourdieu describes as hysteresis and Archer as contextual incongruity: Because of the extreme sensitivity of his nervous system, his ideas and feelings are always in a situation of unstable balance. Because the faintest impressions have an abnormal effect on him, his mental […]

Do you edit an academic journal? Would you like it to have a higher profile and greater impact? Do you need advice on navigating the changing landscape of scholarly publishing? I can help you develop a cost effective and powerful strategy customised to your journal, with a particular expertise in community building and digital engagement. […]

found this quote from Craig Elder, a former senior Conservative comms strategist, fascinating as an account of how ‘the internet’ has ceased to be a siloed technological function and instead become something integrated into the existing communications functions of the party. It’s from Andrew Pickering’s The Hybrid Media System pg 225: Basically the internet used […]

From the forward to Escape from Freedom: The basic entity of the social process is the individual, his desires and fears, his passions and reason, his propensities for good and for evil. To understand the dynamics of the social process we must understand the dynamics of the psychological processes operating within the individual, just as […]

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 […]

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 […]