Tag: Digital Inequalities

  • Call for participants: a global dialogue about the digital divide

    Call for participants: a global dialogue about the digital divide

    We’re excited to announce a collaboration with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) to launch a global dialogue about the digital divide in higher education. The ACU’s new podcast series will explore how the work of universities is changed by the digital revolution and how they can use their position to confront the challenges posed by digital technology. Each episode will feature academics and administrators from around the world debating issues such as social inclusion, digital skills and the future of learning. 

  • Denaturalising digital capitalism

    One of the most pressing issues we confront when analysing the digital economy is a pronounced tendency towards oligopoly which makes a lie of an earlier generation’s utopian embrace of the Internet as a sphere of free competition and a driver of disintermediation. There are important lessons we can learn from platform studies about the […]

  • The notion of a ‘playbook’

    In the last few weeks, I’ve found myself using the term ‘playbook’ in a number of contexts. It’s typically defined as “a book containing a sports team’s strategies and plays, especially in American football” but I’m not quite sure where I picked up the phrase from as someone who hasn’t had much interest in sport […]

  • Politico-environmental crisis

    In Naomi Klein’s new book No Is Not Enough, there’s a lucid overview of the intersection between political and environmental crisis. The role of drought in fermenting the conditions for the Syrian civil war was something which Marc Hudson first explained to me last year. From pg 182-183: The irony is particularly acute because many of the […]

  • The data warriors and the electoral wars they wage

    One of the most interesting issues raised by the rise of data science in party politics is how to untangle corporate rhetoric from social reality. I have much time for the argument that we risk taking the claims of a company like Cambridge Analytica too seriously, accepting at face value what are simply marketing exercises. […]

  • What would a materialist phenomenology of ‘post-truth’ look like?

    That’s the question I’ve been asking myself when reading through two books by Nick Couldry in which he develops a materialist phenomenological approach to understanding social reality. The first is The Mediated Construction of Social Reality (with Andreas Hepp) and the second is Media, Society, World. It’s in the latter book that he considers the […]

  • Digital labour and the epistemic fallacy 

    One of the arguments which pervades Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, concerns the materiality of digital labour. As someone whose back and neck start to ache if I spend too much time at a computer, I’ve always found the tendency to assume there is something mysteriously immaterial about using computers to be rather absurd. […]

  • Abundance and austerity 

    From The Revenge of the Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters, loc 1187: Many of us in education technology talk about this being a moment of great abundance—information abundance—thanks to digital technologies. But I think we are actually/ also at a moment of great austerity. And when we talk about the future of education, […]

  • Managing ‘us’ to preserve the myth

    In his Uberworked and Underpaid, Trebor Scholz draws out an important parallel between the platform capitalism of YouTube and the near universally praised Wikipedia: Unsurprisingly, YouTube hires countless consultants to better understand how to trigger the participation of the crowd. They wonder how they can get unpaid producers to create value. But equally, on the […]

  • The duality of the platform: users and workers

    There’s an interesting passage in Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, in which he discusses the contrasting experience of Amazon Mechanical Turk by users and workers. From loc 719: While AMT is profiting robustly, 11 it has –following the observations of several workers –not made significant updates to its user interfaces since its inception, and […]

  • CfP: Digital Inequalities and Discrimination in the Big Data Era

    *DIGITAL INEQUALITIES AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE BIG DATA ERA* *Preconference of the International Communication Association ’17* May 25, 2017, San Diego Hilton Bayfront, San Diego, California (USA) Co-sponsored by the Pacific ICTD Collaborative, the School of Communications (University of Hawaii at Manoa), and the Institute for Information Policy (Penn State University) *Abstracts due: February 10, […]

  • Metrics and the death of imagination

    In John Thompson’s Merchants of Culture, there’s an interesting remark about the structural position of first time authors which I think has wider purchase. From pg 200: Ironically, in a world preoccupied by numbers, the author with no track is in some ways in a strong position, considerably stronger than the author who has published […]

  • Towards a sociology of Pikettyville

    From this fascinating paper by Roger Burrows, Richard Webber and Rowland Atkinson: To talk of ‘Pikettyville’ is then to conjure up an image of an urban system that has become hardwired to adopting, channelling and inviting excesses of social and economic capital in search of a space in which the rich not only find safe haven […]

  • The class politics of innovation and the new digital elite

    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 […]

  • The moralisation of insecurity and exploitation

    From Strangers In Their Own Land, by Arlie Hochschild, loc 2587-2603: Not claiming to be a victim, accommodating the downside of loose regulations out of a loyalty to free enterprise—this was a tacit form of heroism, hidden to incurious liberals. Sometimes you had to endure bad news, Janice felt, for a higher good, such as […]

  • The “least resistant personality profile”

    A really disturbing extract from Arlie Hochschild’s new book, Strangers In Their Own Land. On loc 1445 she shares the profile of the “least resistant personality” offered by a consultancy firm in 1984, hired to advise on locating waste-to-energy plants in areas likely to provoke little resistance from the local community: – Longtime residents of small […]

  • Liberation and coercion

    There should be a catchy phrase for this phenomenon. It’s important to understand in its own terms but contrasting emphasis on each pole tend to divert scholarly debates into tedious dichotomies that obscure the underlying reality. From loc 3411 of The Data Revolution by Rob Kitchin: Often seemingly opposing outcomes are bound together so that […]

  • The digital avoidance of difference

    A few months ago, I was surprised to see an advert for a Christian dating website on the tube. I just discovered, reading Arlie Hochschild’s The Outsourced Self, quite how widespread this is. From pg 38: Given the profits to be made, it comes as no surprise to see the current explosion of online dating […]

  • Structural limits to self-control

    Myself and Tom Brock are currently working on a paper in which we analyse the discourse of ‘intelligence’ in terms of the individualisation of structural advantage: a whole range of factors are wrapped up into the descriptor of someone as ‘intelligent’ which explains a complex outcome in terms of a somewhat mysterious and inevitably overloaded […]