Tag: craft

  • The eye-on-the-object look

    I was delighted by this from Auden’s Horae Canonicae series. The ‘eye-on-object look’ in which we ‘ignore the appetitive goddesses’: You need not see what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation, you have only to watch his eyes: a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon making a primary incision, a clerk […]

  • Making time to think

    It occurred to me yesterday that I spend less time thinking than I once did. One of the reasons I wanted to leave The Sociological Review and have a period of (sadly self-funded) underemployment was because I’d felt for a year or two that I was  as cognitively occupied as I’m capable of being. I keep running […]

  • Getting hold of ideas while they are clear: note taking as a creative practice

    Getting hold of ideas while they are clear: note taking as a creative practice

    I often come out of meetings feeling that what we’ve been discussing is utterly transparent to me. I feel I hold the issue in my hands, seeing how the initial steps connect to a broader horizon of action. It couldn’t feel more straight forward. However partly for that reason, I never take notes at the […]

  • The intimacy of writing

    My notes on Strathern, M., & Latimer, J. (2019). A conversation. The Sociological Review, 67(2), 481–496. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026119832424 In this interesting conversation with Marilyn Strathern, who I had the pleasure to meet when Jana Bacevic organised a a masterclass with her at our department, Joanna Latimer explores the act of writing and the influence Strathern’s has had on […]

  • Programming as practice

    My notes on Yuill, S. (2005) Programming as Practice in J. Gibbons and K. Winwood, eds., Hothaus Papers: perspectives and paradigms in media arts, Birmingham: ARTicle Press. What does it mean to program? In this intriguing paper Simon Yuill takes issue with responses to this question which reduce programming to a technical practice, reduced to […]

  • The challenge of being ready to think

    In a wonderful London Review of Books piece, the composer Nico Muhly reflects on the challenge of being ready to think. If our work is embedded in a particular environment, scaffolded by the equipment we have within an office, it can be difficult to think when on the move. But even if we can take […]

  • Preparing to think in order to prepare to speak: from routine to challenge

    In the last couple of years, I’ve done around eighty talks on a variety of topics across a whole range of different settings. The biographical, professional and intellectual reasons why I’ve done so many are a topic for another post. What concerns me at the moment is how I prepare for them. To talk in […]

  • On intellectual craft 

    I’m currently reading On Intellectual Craftsmanship, in preparation for a talk I’m doing in Berlin next week. This famous appendix to The Sociological Imagination is something I’ve long been inspired by, finding in it a way of organising my own life that belies the text’s apparently humble ambition to merely guide the novice scholar through […]

  • Against the notion of ‘craft’: thoughts on the cultural politics of romanticising exploitation

    On pg 106 of their Rethinking Social Exclusion: The End of the Social? Simon Winlow and Steve Hall describe the changing realities of work, as more and more jobs become “non-unionised, low paid, short-term, insecure and part time”: We should also note that few of these jobs enable workers to construct and maintain an image […]

  • How to ‘network’ without chipping away at your soul

    ‘Networking’ is a horrible term.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who hates it. It  nonetheless refers to something important, albeit perhaps pervasively misunderstood. The usual connotations of the term ‘networking’ are insincerity, instrumentalism and general creepiness. There have been a few occasions when I’ve been conscious of being ‘networked’ by someone else in a way […]

  • The Pleasures of Scholarly Blogging

    There’s a lovely extract of the Academic Diary in which Les Back reflects on the life and work of the social theorist Vic Seidler. Remarking on the vast range of topics on which Seidler has written, Les suggests that this deeply committed man “writes not because his academic position expects it but because he has something […]

  • Writing praxes beyond papers and books

    A really fascinating reflection by Rob Kitchin on ten forms of academic writing beyond scholarly papers and books: fiction, blog posts, newspaper op eds, email correspondence, policy papers, policy consultation, a television documentary script, powerpoint slides, academic papers, and grant application. What makes this so interesting is that all of these were deployed in relation to the […]

  • The advice given by W.E.B. Dubois to his teenage daughter

    An absolutely beautiful snippet from Brain Pickings: the letter of advice W.E.B. Dubois wrote to his teenage daughter when she went away to school in England. Dear Little Daughter: I have waited for you to get well settled before writing. By this time I hope some of the strangeness has worn off and that my little girl […]

  • The Promise of the Pivot Format

    Recent years have seen the proliferation of what I tend to think of as mini-mongraph formats. In their new book on interdisciplinarity, Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald offer a really nice account of the promise of these formats: The Pivot format is produced within a distinctive (rapid) temporal horizon, and offers a particular length (mid-way […]

  • The imposter syndrome of the young Neil Gaiman

    I love this description by Neil Gaiman of his experience of imposter syndrome early in his career, quoted in Presence by Amy Cuddy: I would have this recurring fantasy in which there would be a knock on the door, and I would go down, and there would be somebody wearing a suit not an expensive suit, just […]

  • tech giants and the possibility of craft

    There’s an interesting discussion of craft in the book about Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive I’m currently reading. It describes his early consultancy career and his deep discomfort with the self-marketing necessary to thrive in this environment, as well as the design compromises that are often required when the whims of a client are paramount. […]

  • the backstory to creative work

    I just came across this series of videos in which Aesop Rock explains the backstory to his album Skelethon. I’m struck by the thought that there’s no piece of creative work I care about that wouldn’t leave me interested to hear such a story about it. Particularly when it has this degree of granularity, offering […]

  • Cory Doctorow’s Philosophy of Blogging

  • Why you should @readcube to manage your library of papers

    I know the Zotero connector did something similar but I can’t get over how neatly this works in ReadCube. The pop up bar at the bottom appears whenever you open a PDF on the website of a participating publisher. To do my current literature review, I’m going through this process on my laptop and then […]

  • Biography and/as Experiment Fiction

    This looks really interesting. If I had less on in June, I’d be tempted to submit a paper for this in order to try and develop some of my thoughts on design fiction and sociological writing: Biography and/as Experimental Fiction 5 June 2015 Goldsmiths, University of London Richard Hoggart Building, Room 137 This one-day conference […]