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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 […]

The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, the driven yet craven man who was the first owner of McDonalds. Not the founder, the first owner. The distinction is a crucial one and the plot of the film hinges on how it became possible for Kroc to be one but my the other. While side […]

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 […]

From Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine loc 1467: A feed filled with topless mirror shots, gym photos, new hair, and so on, might be seen as a peculiar form of idolatry. But it is less a tribute to the user than to the power that the machine has over the user. A power which, without […]

I wrote this as a contribution to the Society for Research Into Higher Education’s contribution to the ESRC Consultation on Leadership Development: The research literature suggests a significant minority of academics use social media as part of their working life, with social trends suggesting this number will only grow with time. It has become an […]

From this speech at Davos: The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called “the freedom of mind.” There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will […]

From John Thompson’s Media & Modernity pg 41-42: In interpreting symbolic forms, individuals incorporate them into their own understanding of themselves and others. They use them as a vehicle for reflection and self-reflection, as a basis for thinking about themselves, about others and about the world to which they belong. I shall use the term […]