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Social media and improvising our careers

The familiar repertoires of scholarly interaction are called into question by the emergence of social media. One way to grasp their routine character is to consider notable exceptions in which networks, projects and fields emerged in unfamiliar and exceptional ways. Pickering’s (2010) accounts of the emergence of British cybernetics provides […]

A cybernetics of distraction?

There’s an interesting aside in Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain on pg 98 which has left me thinking about why I’m so interested in distraction: Here he tied his essay into a venerable tradition in psychiatry going back at least to the early twentieth century, namely, that madness and mental illness […]

The strange performances of the brain

This section of Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain just reawakened my interest in psychedelic drugs and their effects upon consciousness. From pg 73: Walter’s 1953 book The Living Brain is largely devoted to the science of the normal brain and its pathologies, epilepsy and mental illness. But in different passages […]

Scholarly centres of gravity

This is a term which Andrew Pickering uses on pg 10 of the Cybernetic Brain to describe the conference series and dining club around which cybernetics coalesced, as organisationally loose and somewhat self-selecting gatherings substituted for the secure institutional base which the majority of participants lacked. Scholarly centres of gravity […]

Cybernetics as a way of life

This is a wonderful section from pg 9 of Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain: Unlike more familiar sciences such as physics, which remain tied to specific academic departments and scholarly modes of transmission, cybernetics is better seen as a form of life , a way of going on in the […]

Theorising Heterogeneity for Sociology

I’ve recently been reading Magoroh Maruyama’s writing on the second cybernetics and I’m quite taken with it. There’s a context to his work which I only dimly understand, given my lack of grounding in the first cybernetics, though I’m still finding his writing extremely thought-provoking. One of the key themes seems to be […]