This monologue from speed-fuelled gonzo journalist Cameron Colley in Iain Banks’ 1993 novel Complicity suggested something interesting to me about social media. Have social platforms made this accessible to the masses while simultaneously cheapening it by leading us from who gets to speak to who gets heard?
The digital platforms you and your family use every day — from online games to education apps and medical portals — may be collecting and selling your children’s data, says anthropologist Veronica Barassi. Sharing her eye-opening research, Barassi urges parents to look twice at digital terms and conditions instead of blindly accepting them — and to demand protections that ensure their kids’ data doesn’t skew their future.
It’s a position I’d understood intellectually but reading it left me with a momentary flash of this obscene totality weaving itself materially and immateriality through social reality as it orchestrates its own expansion and continued ascension.
If I understand correctly Twitter’s Project Bluesky investigates the possibility of building a decentralised social media in which protocols (rules facilitating communication) and access (the process of communicating) are separated in order to open up social platforms in a radical way
In this essay from Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Collection, Howard Rheingold recognises his “complicity in the creation of today’s digital culture” and “outright seduction by high-tech tools” (16-17). He suggests that the orthodox tradition of scientific thought has left us in a pre-scientific predicament when it comes to the application […]
This is a webinar I did in 2018 for the Critical Realism network. I thought it had been lost so I’m pleased to be able to post it online:
I’ve always been slightly sceptical of the concept of the post-digital. Firstly, it seems to defeat its own deflationary ambitions by defining itself in epochal terms. I’m not convinced it can help us overcome hyperbole about ‘the digital’ if it’s implied that we’ve entered a new era predicated on this […]
I’ve enjoyed reading Twitter: A Biography very much. I came to it after myself and Lambros Fatsis finally submitted The Public and Their Platforms to a publisher, which is a shame because it resonates with and would have helped us further develop the arguments in our book. At the heart […]
I thought this was great from Jean Burgess and Nacy Baym’s new book on Twitter. On pg 15 they take issue with the view of platforms as “a single ‘technology’—a static object that can be cast as a causal agent of societal change” arguing that “A closer look reveals a […]
This section from Jean Burgess and Nacy Baym’s new book on Twitter caught my imagination as a research method. It reminded me of this recent paper in The Sociological Review which used Facebook activity logs as an elicitation method. On pg 26 Burgess and Baym describe how they showed participants […]
Why is mass commercial social media ‘mass’ and ‘commercial’? This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about in recent years as I’ve gone through a cliched journey from enthusiasm to sceptic. This hasn’t involved a fundamental shift in how I see social media as much as […]
This thoughtful essay by Richard Seymour offers a great summary of what I’ve written about as fragile movements, as part of a really interesting reflection on why Black Lives Matter hasn’t exhibited the same fragility: In recent years, political movements and trends have come (and sometimes gone) with unprecedented speed. […]
I just came across the idea of inhabited institutionalism and I find it extremely compelling. Here’s an overview from a paper by Tim Hallett and Emily Meanwell: Inhabited institutionalism is a nascent approach that creates a conversation between Chicago-style interactionism and the new institutionalism in organizational analysis. (Bechky 2011; Haedicke 2012; […]
One of the clearest themes in Wendy Liu’s Abolish Silicon Valley is the disturbing embrace of work and her attempts to move beyond it. Much of the book is a memoir of her own experience entering the tech world as co-founder of a startup, what this lifestyle entailed for her […]
From today’s Protocol newsletter: President Trump’s (otherwise relatively boring) interview last week with Barstool Sports CEO Dave Portnoy brought a somewhat unprecedented look into how @realdonaldtrump thinks about Twitter. Here are a few excerpts: On what happens to the account when he leaves office: “Well it’s mine, and I don’t know that I’ll […]
I’m greatly enjoying Christopher Kelty’s recent book The Participant which is an enormously creative reflection on participation from a philosophical and anthropological perspective. What endears me to it so much is it clear sense of the ontology of participation which it sustains without remaining stuck at the level of ontology. He treats […]
In a debate about Fichte’s conception of the police state, Hegel took issue with the logistical demands involved in such over-weaning control of a population. However as points out on pg 28 of Žižek’s Hegel In A Wired Brain, Fichte’s vision seems eerily prescient when we consider the possibilities for […]
This short piece by Keith Spencer is absolutely spot on. Exploring the contrasting visions which Bezos and Musk have of our interplanetary near-future would be a wonderful exercise in design fiction for someone who is a more talented writer than me. This is what makes Musk’s Mars vision so different […]
There’s a fascinating point in yesterday’s Protocol (seriously, sign up to this if you haven’t already) about the vested interests which Elon Mask has in building his own profile. With his Tesla compensation pegged to the firm’s stock price, his online contrarianism (and its evident popularity with a committed cohort […]