Category: Things to think about

I’ve been preoccupied by a phrase used by Anand Giridharadas in his most recent newsletter. As he puts it, some people are clearly “wanting to be left alone by history for a little while”. It points to the hyper-mobilisation which characterises contemporary society, as well as the exhaustion which can follow from this. As Trotsky […]

I thought this was a really interesting analysis which captures a split in my own musical tastes, as an interest in provocative music co-exists uneasily with a desire for collective experience through live music: Afro-American music is still cherished for its tragic yet affirmative sense of life. But it got shoved aside in the late […]

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 […]

From pg 136 of this new biography from Izabela Wagner: One of his most important tasks, which he performed frequently, was writing political texts with the objective of communist indoctrination. Producing such literature required good historical knowledge and a background in the Marxist literature, with mastery of ‘classics’ such as Lenin’s work. Long office hours […]

I thought this was a great account of Zygmunt Bauman’s style by David Beer in his newsletter. It’s the same quality which can be found in the trilogy of books by Giddens in the early 1990s which, along with Bauman’s oeuvre, facilitated my transition from philosophy to sociology. These works excited me because they provided […]

God! I will pack, and take a train, And get me to England once again! For England’s the one land, I know, Where men with Splendid Hearts may go; And Cambridgeshire, of all England, The shire for Men who Understand; And of THAT district I prefer The lovely hamlet Grantchester. For Cambridge people rarely smile, […]

From this disturbing piece by Richard Seymour: A glance at the crowd shows it to be younger and more heteroclite than one would expect. The heavily armed protests in the US mostly resembled outings of a Duck Dynasty fan club. Granted, in these English displays, there is the inevitable quorate of Nazis, QAnon supporters, flag […]

From 25 Years of Ed Tech by Martin Weller pg 169: There is in much of ed tech a growing divide, particularly in evidence at conferences. One camp is largely uncritical, seeing ed tech as a sort of Silicon Valley-inspired, technological utopia that will cure all of education’s problems. This is often a reflection-free zone, […]

When time pulls lives apart Hold your own When everything is fluid, and when nothing can be known with any certainty Hold your own Hold it ’til you feel it there As dark, and dense, and wet as earth As vast, and bright, and sweet as air When all there is Is knowing that you […]

The closing passage from Richard Seymour’s latest essay has been reverberating in my mind since I read it: Should we fail to posit the alternative, the constructive reworking of civilisation that is so urgently required, and that accommodates us to inhospitable nature, we do not get the boom years and centrist orthodoxy. We get harder […]

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 […]

As often happens when I read older texts by Peter Sloterdijk, I’m struck by a sense of their enduring relevance compared to other thinkers who write in his register. In this extract from his Infinite Mobilisation (1997) he writes about the significance of those experiences when infrastructure struggles and we grind to a halt. What he […]

I loved this section from Žižek’s Hegel In A Wired Brain pg 43 about the importance of what we don’t (and can’t) say. It can certainly be a negative experience, a claustrophobic imminence in which we struggle to express something which we need to externalise into the world But the reality of the unarticulated/inarticulable is […]

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 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 […]

I thought this was a fascinating aside in Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology pg 63. It captures something which the contemporary sense of stereotype as reductive/cliche tends to miss: the fact these categories are impervious to countervailing evidence and reproduce the same judgement in different circumstances: It first referred to a practice in the printing […]

This description of Tony Blair’s ambitions by Alastair Campbell invites a question I’ve often wondered about. What is ‘modernising zeal’? It’s such a loaded term but clearly so significant to understand centrists dispositions yet it’s rarely, if ever, defined: But he feared that unless the party adapted to the modern post-Cold War, post-Thatcherite world, it […]