Tag: The Political Economy of Digital Capitalism

  • The macro-economic costs of distraction

    This suggestion from Tim Wu on pg 352 of The Attention Merchants asks a question which has been on my mind a lot in the last year. If we accept the idea that distraction increases in a digital environment, in the sense of a difficulty in sustaining focus driven by the multiplication of disruptions, what does this […]

  • Machine learning and authoritarianism

    On pg 258-259 of her Don’t Be Evil, Rana Foroohar poses a question which will become more urgent with each passing year, binding political economy and digital governance together in a way which will define the fabric of social life: Is digital innovation best suited to an environment of decentralization, in which many firms in […]

  • The vested interests of the media in Trump

    From Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth pg 386: The “Trump bump” was mostly responsible for its strong financial reports following the election as the paid digital readership began to explode. By the end of the second quarter there were 600,000 new subscriptions, bringing the total number of digital subscribers above two million. In 2017 paid […]

  • A few notes the digital aristocracy

    A few notes the digital aristocracy

    Many of the leading figures in contemporary Silicon Valley are those who survived the fall out from the earlier crash. Thiel made his fortune by co-founding the online payments platform Paypal, acting as CEO until its sale to eBay. He subsequently founded Clarium Capital (a hedge fund), Founders Fund (a venture capital firm) and Palantir […]

  • Social ontology amidst the wreckage of techno-progressive orthodoxy

    I found this review of Trump and the Media by Nicholas Carr in the LA Review of Books immensely thought-provoking. His focus is on the book’s historical contribution, contextualising the enthusiasm with which social media was greeted in terms of long term concerns about the centralisation of mass media. We can’t understand the ideal of […]

  • The cultural consequences of start-ups remaining private

    There’s an interesting anecdote on loc 3960-3972 of Bad Blood, John Carreyrou’s gripping account of the Theranos scandal, recounting a follow up meeting between Rupert Murdoch and Elizabeth Holmes which sealed the former’s investment in the latter’s company. I thought it was a vivid account of the distinctive corporate culture which had emerged within Theranos and how […]

  • Platform capitalism and its interplanetary horizons

    To frame the commercialisation of space as being somehow related to ‘platform capitalism’ risks misunderstanding. It is certainly the case that Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin, owes his wealth to Amazon but this has become a platform over time rather than being founded as one. Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, owes his early success […]

  • The original sin of the digital utopians

    There’s a fascinating mea culpa in Jaron Lanier’s new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. On loc 411 he describes how early design decisions, inspired by the libertarian ethos taking hold within the tech community, created the openings for the global monopolies we now see emerging: Originally, many of us who […]

  • CfP: The Cultural Life of Machine Learning: An Incursion into Critical AI Studies

    How good does this look? So much of this chimes with the paper I’m currently struggling to finish The Cultural Life of Machine Learning: An Incursion into Critical AI Studies Preconference Workshop, #AoIR2018 Montréal, Canada Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre, INRS (Institut national de la recherche scientifique) Wednesday October 10th 2018 Machine learning (ML), deep […]

  • Techno-nationalism and technological innovation

    In a fascinating account of the private space programs of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Christian Davenport explains how the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) has its origins in the geopolitics of the Cold War. From pg 59: Eisenhower entered the room at 10: 31 a.m., and decided to get right to it, asking, “Do […]

  • The Political Ontology of Platforms

    These notes are for the fifth and final week of the CPGJ platform capitalism intensive reading group. One of the themes running through the readings over the five weeks has been the political valence of platforms and its relationship to our analysis of them. My own instinct is that valorising platforms in an a priori […]

  • Call for Papers – (In)Equalities and Social (In)Visibilities in the Digital Age

    *Call for Papers – (In)Equalities and Social (In)Visibilities in the Digital Age – Journal Interações* The influence of new technologies in public and private spheres of society, rather than a reformulation, has given rise to a new social field and directly interferes with how we perceive the world, relate to it and others. In Pierre […]

  • CfP: AI, Robotics and Responsibility

    This looks fascinating: FROM THE HRC-SCHOLARS LISTSERV: Dear members, Please find attached for the call for papers from my institution’s anniversary conference. My institution being TILT (The Institute for Law, Technology and Society in Tilburg, The Netherlands), you might find this one a bit out there but we have several tracks for which we secifically […]

  • Putting agents, ethics and politics at the heart of our account of platform capitalism

    Notes for week 4 of the CPGJ Platform Capitalism Reading Group I thought this short talk by danah boyd was really powerful in linking the utopian dreams of internet radicals to the anxieties and outcomes of work. Framing the future of work in terms of automation, as if that says everything which is needed to […]

  • Platform capitalism and the future of education

    In this week’s CPGJ platform capitalism reading group, we turn towards education for the first time with a paper by José van Dijck and Thomas Poell looking at the influence of social media platforms on education, particularly within schools. Much of the literature has addressed social media as tools, with varying interpretations offered about how these […]

  • CfP Symposium Dis/Connection: Conflicts, Activism and Reciprocity Online and Beyond, Sept 27-28, Uppsala University, Sweden

    The Cultural Matters Group at the Department of Sociology, Uppsala University on Sept. 27-28 organizes a symposium called Dis / Connection: Conflicts, Activism and Reciprocity Online and Beyond and we look forward to receiving your papers! Deadline for submissions is June 18, 2018. The symposium focuses on a fundamental aspect of social relationships, namely the […]

  • Can we have platform capitalism without computational politics? 

    Notes for week 2 of the CPGJ Platform Capitalism reading group  Both readings for this week treat utopian hopes of the internet bolstering democracy as anachronistic relics, looking in different ways to the murky reality of the politics which platform capitalism is giving rise to. Tufekci accepts some of the claims made about the affordances […]

  • Exercising control over representations of yourself

    On pg 57 of George Packer’s Unwinding, he describes how Oprah Winfrey’s rhetoric of authenticity and openness co-exist with a pronounced tendency to exercise control over representations of herself: She exalted openness and authenticity, but she could afford them on her own terms. Anyone allowed into her presence had to sign away freedom of speech […]

  • The quiet revolution of deindustrialization

    One of the prevailing motifs of the Trumpist era has been the recognition on all sides of the social and political costs of deindustrialization, even if this recognition is typically subsumed into a prior political stance. There’a really powerful account on pg 52 of George Packer’s Unwinding which conveys the scale of this change and the curious […]

  • Who owns Digital Capitalism? Notes for the Platform Capitalism reading group

    Notes for week 1 of the CPGJ Platform Capitalism reading group. The notes below relate to Evgeny Morozov’s lecture below:  The question of ‘who owns digital capitalism?’ was posed for the conference but it was one which Morozov felt uncomfortable with because it implied a separation between ‘digital capitalism’ and financialised capitalism. To illustrate the […]