Category: Platform and agency

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 more emergent, dynamic truth, one […]

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 their Twitter timelines in order […]

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. To name just a few […]

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; Hallett and Ventresca 2006). Inhabited […]

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 and the meanings she has […]

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 ever use it again, but […]

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 participation as: A concept A […]

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 than, say, the Apollo missions […]

This is a powerful statement by Ulises Ali Mejias and Nick Couldry on pg 22 of their data colonialism. I’m not entirely convinced by the book but I think they’re certainly correct to see a radical horizon of (digitalised) social order having opened up in the last decade: Two possibilities result that, before digital connection, […]

This is such a helpful overview from the consistently excellent Protocol newsletter: As Facebook has gone from “social network for chatty college kids” to effectively powering a version of the internet with data centers and offices all over the world, the company’s begun to think a lot more about sustainability. Good for the world, good […]

In his final book Metamorphosis Ulrich Beck contrasts two forms of social integration. As he writes on pg 168-169: If one understands the communities of world cities in this sense as ‘cosmopolitan communities of global risk’, however, one must abandon the widespread assumption in the social sciences that community-building is possible only on the basis […]

I thought Jade Lindgaard and Xavier De La Porte identify something important about the strategic issues faced by those who style themselves as intellectuals while remaining resolutely outside the academy. This is from their incisive critique BHL in Wonderland loc 4617, describing the growing rivalry between their titular nemesis Bernard-Henri Lévy and his emerging foe […]

From today’s Protocal newsletter: There are three kinds of video chat, Zuckerberg said: One is video calling — “when you call someone and their phone or computer actually rings.” It’s good for quick, ad-hoc interactions. Two is video rooms, “where you create a link, send it out to people, and they can go ahead and join […]

From Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 83: This pattern is epitomized by the career of the novel, which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often included frontispieces, plates, and so on. But all of these elements gradually faded away, over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until the very word illustration […]