Tag: digital elites

My notes on Williamson, B. (2018). Silicon startup schools: technocracy, algorithmic imaginaries and venture philanthropy in corporate education reform. Critical studies in education, 59(2), 218-236. The technology sector has turned its gaze towards education in recent years, manifesting in a whole range of initiatives as well as the increasing prominence of education in how digital […]

As Anand Giridharadas points out on pg 86 of his Winners Take All, the eight billionaires who can account for half the world’s wealth all owe their income to technology, albeit to varying degrees: Six of those eight made their money in the supposedly equalizing field of technology: Gates, Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Larry […]

On the same topic as yesterday’s post on the moral theories of platform engineers, Anand Giridharadas recounts a speech by Uber and Airbnb investor Shervin Pishevar on pg 66 of his Winners Take All:  “My biggest thing is existing structures and monopolies—one example is the taxi cartels—that is a very real thing,” he said. “I’ve been in meetings […]

The fascination with the propensity of tech founders to go silent reminds me of how the earliest philosophers were framed as unworldly due to their capacity to go into thought trances. From Roger McNamee’s Zucked, loc 269-284. This little speech took about two minutes to deliver. What followed was the longest silence I have ever endured […]

In his remarkably prescient Listen Liberal, Thomas Frank describes the rapid capture of the Democratic Party by the professional class which took place during those decades when economic transition left them ascendent within the country as a whole. This was originally a predominance of financiers within the party but, with a transition marked by the […]

In the early pages of Douglas Rushkoff’s Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, he offers a cogent analysis of how initial public offerings lock tech companies into a growth imperative which ultimately proves destructive of the value they create. As he puts it on loc 169, “Having taken in this much new capital, however, Twitter now needs […]

A fascinating observation in No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, loc 785. I wonder if the digital elites who interest me see their wealth in similar terms? It was a Janus-faced ideology; one side of Carnegie was extraordinarily generous, expending time and vast financial sums on goals such as military disarmament […]

I’ve often wondered about how the working environments within which proponents of cloud computing exist have shaped their enthusiasm for it. If your work is never interrupted by the broadband going down then it’s easier to be committed to moving all your applications into the cloud.  In Battle of the Titans, the author quotes the […]

A bit later in Battle of the Titans, Fred Vogelstein transcribes a talk he saw Eric Schmidt give at a technology conference. From loc 1904-1918: We have a product that allows 82 you to speak to your phone in English and have it come out in the native language of the person you are talking to. […]

From Peter Thiel’s Less Than Zero loc 1279: Max Levchin, my co-founder at PayPal, says that startups should make their early staff as personally similar as possible. Startups have limited resources and small teams. They must work quickly and efficiently in order to survive, and that’s easier to do when everyone shares an understanding of […]

Peter Thiel describing how the ‘PayPal Mafia’ came about in his Less Than Zero, loc 1238-1251: The first team that I built has become known in Silicon Valley as the “PayPal Mafia” because so many of my former colleagues have gone on to help each other start and invest in successful tech companies. We sold […]

From Untangling The Web, by Aleks Krotoski, pg 53-54: Joi Ito is the head of the Media Lab, a powerful thinktank based at MIT, one of the most respected academic institutions in the US. The Media Lab has been one of the most influential research laboratories for developing cutting edge technology. It’s also been in […]

From Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance, pg 16. I think a sociological analysis of contemporary digital elites needs to treat these ambitions seriously, while nonetheless recognising how these cultural formulations intersect with material interests. While the “putting man on Mars” talk can strike some people as loopy, it gave Musk a unique rallying cry for […]