Category: Platform and agency

This extract from Xavier de la Porte’s The Imposter: BHL in Wonderland reproduces a conference opening given by Derrida in which he drew attention to the new generation of philosophers who were being put forward as a consequence of the ‘techno-politics of telecommunications’. From loc 1809 of their book: There lies, in the techno-politics of telecommunications, […]

I thought this extract from Ulrich Beck’s final book Metamorphosis shed light on our current situation. The role of expert systems in rendering the crisis legible is familiar, with “the means to make the invisible threat to their life visible” lying in the mediation of events. The obvious different though is how intensively mediated Covid-19 […]

I thought this action by Eventbrite was really interesting. Platform firms reliant on face-to-face interaction face a difficult future and their relationship with their user base is one of the key resources they have access to: On Thursday, March 19, we sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leadership urging them to protect the live events […]

This extract from loc 335 of Anna Weinar’s Uncanny Valley captures something I find fascinating about the so-called ‘sharing economy’: the challenge of creating normative guidelines for novel forms of interaction which these platforms have facilitated. It was my first time paying to stay with strangers. The apartment was clean and welcoming, full of overstuffed […]

This call for papers looks brilliant: Special Issue CFP: “Marxist Transhumanism or Transhumanist Marxism?” To be published in New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry  Guest editors: James Steinhoff and Atle Mikkola Kjøsen In this special issue call, New Proposals asks authors to explore how Marxism and Transhumanism might be brought into conjunction. Could […]

This extract from Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchants pg 343 captures something important about the sociology of Donald Trump’s presidency. I think he’s correct about the use of constant strife, echoing the argument by Will Davies about the blurring boundary between war and peace, to dominate the media agenda in a way which ensures the […]

We should be cautious about apparent signs of Big Tech’s willingness to accept regulation when we consider the history of AT&T. As Tim Wu documents on pg 56 of The Master Switch, the telephone monopoly was willing to accept regulation once it had already won: The trick of the Kingsbury Commitment was to make relatively painless […]

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 […]

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 looks brilliant. If only I could have seen it earlier! Thematic issue in Digital Capitalism   Coordinators: Aitor Jiménez (University of Auckland) & César Rendueles (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) Vol 17 (2) June-December 2020 Teknokultura: Magazine of Digital Culture and Social Movements (Complutense University of Madrid) (https://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/TEKN), indexed in Emerging Sources Citation Index, calls for […]

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, […]

There’s a simple question at the end of Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System which rewards serious thought. From pg 288: Today, we might ask whether the average citizen interested in influencing politics but without ambitions for high political office should join a political organization or create a Twitter account and start interacting with others […]

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 […]

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 […]

This monologue by Mrs Wilson at the end of Gosford Park immediately made me consider how digital assistants, driven by datasets such as Amazon’s buying and viewing history for a long term users, might one day come to constitute an ideal of service as thick as the one we see represented in films like this: What […]