Tag: Philosophy of Technology

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not hailed or even electronically hailed […]

Rarely can a film have been as timely as Denial. It tells the story of the libel action the holocaust denying historian David Irving took against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, alleging that she had damaged his professional reputation as a historian by claiming he had wilfully distorted evidence. The film recounts the events leading up to the trial, […]

From The Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters, loc 1530: We act at our peril as if “open” is politically neutral, let alone politically good or progressive. Indeed, we sometimes use the word to stand in place of a politics of participatory democracy. We presume that, because something is “open” that it necessarily contains […]

I like this contrast drawn by Arlie Hochschild on loc 2780-2795 of Strangers In Their Own Land: Not only her values, but even the kind of self she proudly exhibited—an endurance self—seemed to need defending, because it too seemed to be going out of fashion along with all the blue-collar jobs. “They used to brag […]

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 […]

In our discussion of metrics systems, it’s easy to treat subjectivity as a cipher, regarding people as passively moulded by algorithms or blindly governed by the incentives that operate through the institutionalisation of the metrics. My objection to the former is not the claim that people are shaped by metrics, but rather the assumption that this process is […]

In a near future America, the world is locked into an inglorious decline while the majority of its population is locked into an intoxicatingly expansive virtual world. Ecological crisis and economic ruin operate hand-in-hand to leave the 99% living in sprawling slums, consisting of endless stacks of trailer parks, around the periphery of the surviving […]

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 […]

An interesting snippet from Digital Methods, by Richard Rogers, loc 1883: To an “Internet cataloger” writing a well-known essay in 1998, Yahoo! was making a significant contribution to newfangled online library science, not only by its classification scheme but also by the means of content “navigation” it developed. Yahoo!’s system differed from that of a […]

A special issue I’m really looking forward to reading: The Journal for Computer Supported Cooperative Work has a special issue on the impact of social media and big data on citizenship.  It appears evident that the emergence of social media platforms and data practices challenges our traditional understanding of citizenship. This special issue investigates telling […]

From Code 2.0 by Larry Lessig, loc 159: Born in a research project in the Defense Department, 1cyberspace too arose from the unplanned displacement of a certain architecture of control. The tolled, single-purpose network of telephones was displaced by the untolled and multipurpose network of packet-switched data. And thus the old one-to-many architectures of publishing […]