Category: Reading notes

A few creepy extracts from Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth about the office culture at BuzzFeed. The pursuit of virality has been gamified, with these ostentatiously fun undertakings matched by an underlying threat that those who can’t reach these standards won’t survive at the company in the longer term. In light of this we should […]

From Zizi Papacharissi’s A Private Sphere pg 68: Meyrowitz (1986) described this as the ability of electronic media to remove, or at least rearrange, boundaries between public and private spaces, affecting our lives not so much through content, but rather “by changing the ‘situational geography’ of social life” (p. 6). In the seminal No Sense […]

This is an interesting reflection from Jean Burgess and Joshua Green in the second edition of YouTube. I think this defence of the platform as an object is really important and this is something I want to expand up on in upcoming writing. From pg 13: But at the time, writing a whole book about […]

I recently co-authored a paper with Mark Johnson and Tom Brock about the moral economy of celebrity streamer on Twitch. We attempt to understand how the aspiration for celebrity, the imperative to be seen, reflects the broader conditions in which the aspirant streamers make their way through the world: More broadly than the phenomenon of […]

If I understand this notion from Zizi Papacharissi correctly*, it captures something important about social media. These platforms create an experience of expansiveness which doesn’t hook into the social world in a significant way. It’s a free-wheeling expansiveness, to use a term from Roy Bhaskar’s critique of Richard Rorty, a trick of perspective which affects […]

From Judith Butler’s Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly, from pg 17: Asserting that a group of people is still existing, taking up space and obdurately living, is already an expressive action, a politically significant event, and that can happen wordlessly in the course of an unpredictable and transitory gathering. Another “effective” result of […]

From The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour loc 3166: No one consciously sets out to devote themselves to the machine, to become its addict. Its veto power over all other possible attentions takes place, cumulatively, through every apparently free choice made as a user. We drop into the dead zone, the ‘ticker trance’ of feed […]

To elevate _the platform_ in this way can easily be read in post-human terms, building analysis around inhuman agents which in an important sense act behind the back of our familiar human subjects. This would be a reading in keeping with the theoretical mood of the times where, as theorist of the post humanities Rosi […]

From Going Public by Arlene Stein and Jessie Daniels, pg 80-81: An author’s voice is simply his or her “unique authorial fingerprint,” according to Theresa MacPhail, a New York University professor of science and technology studies. 19 If an author has a distinctive voice, she writes, “then we can often accurately attribute a text to […]

This is a fascinating idea from Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine. Exercising power without a strategic framework, shaping the social through a machinic repetition driven by nothing more considered than keeping users on the platform for longer & preparing a climate in which advertising can be sold. From loc 2745: The underground persuasion of reality-shaping […]

“It is still the case that most social scientists view the research encounter as an interface between an observer and the observed, producing either quantitative or qualitative data. Equally, the dissemination of research findings are confined to conventional paper forms of publishing, and research excellence is measured and audited through such forms, be it in […]

The Sociological Review has just published a thought-provoking review of Doug Porpora’s Reconstructing Sociology: The Critical Realist Approach. It gives a lucid, though brief, overview of the book’s core arguments: seven myths which afflict American sociology and seven philosophical counter-points. But what caught my attention was the account of how theoretical work can increase the discipline’s capacity […]

In this paper the team behind the continually fantastic Sociological Images reflect on blogging as public sociology: Sociological Images is a website aimed at a broad public audience that encourages readers to develop and apply a sociological imagination. The site includes short, accessible posts published daily. Each includes one or more images and accompanying commentary. Reaching approximately 20,000 readers per […]

From How to become an internationally famous British social theorist by Stewart Clegg, 585-586: “Giddens’s later concerns with structure and agency allow him to tap into many prestigious intellectual products as resources, such as linguistics, analytical philosophy and the Heideggerian tradition. These connections allow for far great consumption in more differentiated markets. The vague term ‘social theory’ […]

An important point from the paper Big Data, social physics, and spatial analysis: The early years by Trevor J Barnes and Matthew W Wilson: The most immediate invocation of monism by Big Data is its assumption that the social world can be mathematized in the same way as the natural world. Just as Galileo thought that the […]

In this paper in Dialogues in Human Geography, Evelyn Ruppert from Goldsmiths College makes a case for the need to rethink empirical social science in the face of the epistemological and methodological challenge of ‘big data’: While Big Data – the vast amounts of digital information generated, accumulated and stored in myriad databases and repositories, both online […]

In this 2007 paper David Beer and Roger Burrows suggest that “by the time you get to read this paper in its published form, even in the hypertextual pages of Sociological Research Online, what it describes may well have become part of the cultural mainstream”. Seven years later, the paper certainly seems prescient, even if the eponymous term ‘Web […]

From Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine loc 2670-2776: What is more, hasty denunciations risk leaving us with the misapprehension of knowing what we’ve got ourselves into, while injecting an unhelpful nastiness, condescension and paranoia into the conversation. There has been a bonfire of digital vanities, bromides stacked upon platitudes, ‘digital democracy’, ‘the networked citizen’, ‘Twitter […]

From Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine loc 1148: The vacancies of attention that we must fill appear during public transport journeys, on lunch and toilet breaks, during impasses in dinner conversation, or in those frequent interludes in working life where there is nothing to do but the employee is obliged to look busy. If we […]