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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 […]

Žižek on Covid temporalities

This is the last thing I’ll post about Žižek’s Pandemic! eBook but I thought these observations about what I’ve come to think of as Covid temporalities, the distinct temporal experiences of crisis and lockdown, were very useful. On loc 396 he considers the inevitability of ‘dead time’ during those who […]

Covid and Social Acceleration

A summary of Hartmut Rosa’s recent interventions on Covid-19 from a (rapidly published) paper by Christian Fuchs: The German sociologist Hartmut Rosa (2020b) argues that the corona virus crisis means “forced deceleration”4. He argues that there is a “massive deceleration of real physical life, where on the one hand one […]

The Transformation of Higher Education: Acceleration, Platformisation and Digitalisation

Friday, 03 April 2020, 11am-5pm in London, UK  Register online here: https://www.srhe.ac.uk/events/details.asp?eid=456 There is widespread agreement that universities are undergoing a profound transformation but much less agreement on what these changes mean and how we should characterise them. The Digital University Network has stressed the role of new technologies in […]

The widespread sense of homo distractus

The popular character of this diagnosis, summarised by Tim Wu on pg 6 of his Attention Merchants, poses the question of how we should treat it as common sense, in the Durkheimian tradition of skepticism about received wisdom. How widespread is this? To what extent does it misrepresent the nature […]

The politics of being well-organised

One of many dangers with acceleration rhetoric is that it creates the impression of what Filip Vostal calls a ‘mega force’, rampaging through society in a way that effects all individuals with equal significance. The reality is that existing resources shape our capacity to respond to acceleration in a way […]

The acceleration of journalism

I’d tended to think of the acceleration of journalism as being a matter of fewer staff producing more copy. But this passage from Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth suggests the changing demands of editing are a factor as well. From pg 416: Before she left for ProPublica, Marilyn Thompson, the […]

Accelerating into the singularity 

The singularity is a speculative notion referring to the point at which exponential innovation generates a fundamental transformation of human civilisation. As Murray Shanahan puts it in on loc 78 of his book The Technological Singularity: In physics, a singularity is a point in space or time, such as the […]

The (slow) private life of homo academicus

In his Pascalian Meditations, Bourdieu is concerned with “the free time, freed from the urgencies of the world, that allows a free and liberated relation to those urgencies and to the world”. There are presuppositions to enjoying this condition which shape the dispositions of the scholar, necessitating reflexivity for epistemic […]

The Mediatization of Time

ZeMKI international conference „The Mediatization of Time“ December 6-8, 2017 Conference venue: Swissôtel Bremen Hillmannpl. 20, 28195 Bremen, Germany Organizer: University of Bremen, ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research http://www.zemki.uni-bremen.de Topic: Recent innovations in the digitalization and datafication of communication fundamentally affect how people conceptualize, perceive and evaluate […]

The acceleration of social theory

There’s a section in this 1997 chapter by Roger Burrows which my thoughts have been intermittently turning to since reading it last week. On pg 235 he writes: It is not just technology which appears to be accelerating towards meltdown, so are our cultural and sociological understandings of the world. […]

Anticipatory Urgency

Earlier this morning, I found myself impatiently waiting in my local petrol station to purchase a drink before I went swimming. The woman in front me in the queue was rather slow. Initially seeming surprised that money would be required for the transaction, she proceeded to initiate an entirely different process to locate her […]

On Social Acceleration

Earlier on this month, Hartmut Rosa gave a fascinating lecture at the LSE, marking the launch of this new book on the Sociology of Speed. It’s a great overview of his theory of acceleration, but it also included some things I hadn’t encountered before: His intellectual trajectory was shaped by […]