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The sublime high of visibility

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?

What big tech knows about your children

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.

The missing skill of technological reflexivity

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 […]

What is a platform?

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 […]

Fragile movements and social media

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. […]

Inhabited institutionalism

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; […]

Silicon Valley’s cult of work

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 […]

Trump’s regrets about Twitter

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 […]

What is participation?

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 […]