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The missing skill of technological reflexivity

In this essay from Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Collection, Howard Rheingold recognises his “complicity in the creation of today’s digital culture” and “outright seduction by high-tech tools” (16-17). He suggests that the orthodox tradition of scientific thought has left us in a pre-scientific predicament when it comes to the application […]

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 […]

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 […]

The causal powers of media

In The Mediated Construction of Social Reality, Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp take issue with the primacy of face-to-face interaction that has so often been assumed within social thought. Our embodied interaction is taken to be primary, often assumed to be unmediated, with the mediation of interaction through technology seen as […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Pseudo-Catharsis of Social Media

From Rethinking Social Exclusion, by Simon Winlow and Steve Hall, pg 73: Political protests these days are taken not as an indication that something is going wrong and that a significant number of the population are dissatisfied with the nation’s political leadership. Rather, they seem to indicate that a healthy […]

The death of cyberspace

Another really interesting idea from Digital Methods by Richard Rogers. He dates the ‘death of cyberspace’ as symbolically taking place with the first legal assertion of geography over virtuality. From loc 833: The symbolic end of cyberspace may be located in the lawsuit against Yahoo! in May 2000, brought before […]

The Entlastung of the Quantified Self

I’m very interested in this concept, which I was introduced to through the work of Pierpaolo Donati and Andrea Maccarini earlier this year. It emerged from the work of Arnold Gehlen and refers to the role of human institutions in unburdening us from existential demands. This is quoted from his Human Beings […]

The Dual-Edged Character of Digital Freedom

From Mediated Memories, by Jose van Dijck, pg 119. The immediate discussion is about digital photography but the point can be extended much more widely: In many ways, digital tools and connective systems expand control over an individual’s image exposure, granting more power to present and shape oneself in public. […]