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AOL as the first mass commercial social media

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 […]

The Poetics of Data Analytics

Originally a 2003 book by financial journalist Michael Lewis, the 2011 film with Brad Pitt tells the story of the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season. Struggling with fewer resources than his competitors and lacking the resources to replace star players who have been poached, general manager Billy Breane embraces data analytics […]

Digital capitalism or digital socialism?

My notes on Morozov, E. (2019) Digital Socialism? The Calculation Debate in the Age of Big Data. New Left Review 116/117, 33-66 A range of terms have entered circulation in recent years which suggest a transformation in capitalism. Digital capitalism, platform capitalism, data capitalism and surveillance capitalism point to a […]

CfP: Political epistemologies of Big Data

I’m giving serious thought to this, as much as I’m trying to save money and travel less: Call for Papers for the Conference „Scraping the Demos“: Political epistemologies of Big Data Organizers: Research Group Quantification and Social Regulation (Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society) and DVPW Thematic Group “Internet and […]

Cultural studies of data mining

My notes on Andrejevic, M., Hearn, A., & Kennedy, H. (2015). Cultural studies of data mining: Introduction, European Journal of Cultural Studies 18(4-5), 379-394 In this introduction to an important special issue, Mark Andrejevic, Alison Hearn and Helen Kennedy that the ubiquity of data infrastructure in everyday life means that “we cannot afford to […]

Expertise and the politics of discipline

In the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on a remark Susan Halford made at this event about the difference between expertise and discipline. If I understand her correctly, her point was that capacities for knowing and acting in the world (expertise) can have their reproduction organised […]

From homo economicus to homo digitalis

In a recent paper, I’ve argued we find a cultural project underpinning ‘big data’: a commitment to reducing human being, in all its embodied affective complexity, stripping it of any reality beyond the behavioural traces which register through digital infrastructure. Underlying method, methodology and theory there is a vision of […]

The bureaucratic origins of algorithmic authoritarianism

I just came across this remarkable estimate in an Economist feature on surveillance. I knew digitalisation made surveillance cheaper but I didn’t realise quite how much cheaper. How much of the creeping authoritarianism which characterises the contemporary national security apparatus in the UK and US is driven by a familiar impulse towards efficiency? […]

The Entlastung of the Quantified Self

I’m very interested in this concept, which I was introduced to through the work of Pierpaolo Donati and Andrea Maccarini earlier this year. It emerged from the work of Arnold Gehlen and refers to the role of human institutions in unburdening us from existential demands. This is quoted from his Human Beings […]