Tag: Digital Distraction, Personal Agency and The Reflexive Imperative

  • Some brief thoughts on chronopolitics

    It occurs to me when confronted with this that there are ever more contexts in which contemporary capitalism undermines the ability to plan ahead. This is striking because much of financialised capitalism is predicated on ensuring the calculability of the future through instruments like futures and securities which lock in certain expectations of future outcomes […]

  • Social acceleration and the possibility of the sacred 

    I just returned from a Remembrance Day service, pondering the relationship between acceleration and the profane after finding the array of people walking past and through the service deeply irritating. It occurred to me that what marks out such a space as sacred, distinguished from the normal flow on everyday life, rests as much on […]

  • 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 time to create the kind […]

  • The Digital Monad

    From Counterculture to Cyberculture, by Fred Turner, presents the fascinating history through which avowed cultural radicals of the 1960s came to generate the present day dogmas of working culture under digital capitalism. In the last week, I’ve written about this in terms of the digital nomad and the digital hipster. These cultural forms are, as […]

  • Conduits for variety

    In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212: For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who later wrote for Wired magazine, […]

  • The lost lure of abundance

    There’s an interesting extract on pg 52-53 of Infinite Distraction, by Dominic Pettman, discussing the seductions of abundance under conditions of scarcity: Those readers old enough to remember what it was like to live before the Internet will recall the strange phenomenon where the general noosphere seduced us by its sheer beckoning presence. Thus, we […]

  • The meaning of @realdonaldtrump

    How significant can a tweet can be? We can point to isolated cases of individual tweets going viral, creating controversy and producing material outcomes in the world. But isolated tweets rarely have such significance. Instead, we need to look at a Twitter feed as a unit of analysis, taking someone’s entire output on the platform as […]

  • Digital media and ontological security 

    There’s an intriguing argument in The Mediated Construction of Social Reality, by Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, concerning our dependence upon digital media and how we respond to its failure. From loc 5527: We feel the costs viscerally: when ‘our’ media break down –we lose internet connection, our password stops working, we are unable to […]

  • Time-packing and space-packing

    From The Mediated Construction of Reality, by Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, loc 2896-2912: While there are only so many bodies of a certain size that can fit into a finite space –there are certain natural limits to spatial packing, beyond which the attempt to pack just has to stop (otherwise, bodies get crushed) –the […]

  • What does distraction mean for political theory and political philosophy?

    Soon after becoming Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis found himself surrounded by civil servants whose loyalties he could not assume and staff parachuted in by a political party with which he had little prior affiliation. In his political memoir, Adults In The Room, he recounts his impulse to find “a minder whose loyalties would not be […]

  • How can Arendt and Heidegger help us think about distraction?

    In his Debating Humanity, Daniel Chernilo compares the approaches taken by Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt to the question of thinking. Both began with the philosophical tradition’s opposition between thinking and action: in this sense it implies withdrawal in some sense, relative to a world of activity. However Heidegger saw this thinking as an activity for the chosen few. […]

  • What is compound distraction?

    I’m not a fan of The End of Absence by Michael Harris but I love this term. From pg 216: The experience of one person’s distraction compounding another’s. Julie kept texting while I was talking about my cat, so I started texting, too. Existing in two varietals: “limited compound distraction” refers to a moment of positive […]

  • Pierre Bourdieu, post-war Algeria and the existential conditions for collective action

    In an early essay on post-war Algeria, Pierre Bourdieu reflected on the existential experience of the urban sub-proletariat and its political significance. This is reproduced on pg 16 of Political Interventions: Social Science and Political Action: Habituation to prolonged unemployment and the most casual and poorly paid work, along with the lack of any regular employment, […]

  • The cultural significance of blogging

    In his Uberworked and Underpaid, Trebor Scholz offers an important reflection on the cultural significance of blogging. While its uptake has been exaggerated, dependent upon questionable assumptions concerning the relationship between users and blogs, it nonetheless represents a transformation of and expansion of cultural agency which needs to be taken seriously. From loc 3825: Web […]

  • Speculative thoughts about the phenomenology of digitalisation

    A few weeks ago, I found myself on a late night train to Manchester from London. After a long day, I was longing to arrive home, a prospect that seemed imminent as the train approached Stockport. Then it stopped. Eventually, we were told that there was someone on the tracks ahead and that the police […]

  • The Political Economy of Attention

    I love this concise formulation by Trebor Scholz in Uberworked and Underpaid. From loc 338: Every day, one billion people in advanced economies have between two billion and six billion spare hours among them. 13 Capturing and monetizing those hours is the goal of platform capitalism.

  • Moral Responsibility in an Age of Distraction

    What’s the moral status of ‘thoughtlessness’? It can be invoked as a defence, used to claim that an action was less morally problematic because it expressed a lack of consideration rather than a deliberate intention. But as the wise Jim Gordon once pointed out, such actions can actually be worse in a way, reflecting a wilful […]

  • Quit social media

    A provocative argument put forward by someone who’s built a high-profile secondary career through blogging: