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Month: August 2011

From liquid labour to presence bleed [lecture]

Prezi from a lecture examining the influence of information networks on organisations and labour practices. To illustrate both dynamic, I am using notions such as network coordination and transaction costs, Mard Deuze’s notion of liquid labour, Norbert Wiener’s description of the feedback loop, and more importantly John Boyd’s OODA loop as a visualization of the way networks maintain themselves and coordinate the flow of information. The argument of course is that to understand the changes of organisational and labour practices one needs to understand the way networks deal with adversity (coordination and transaction costs); similarly, one has to understand how the length of the feedback loop inevitably leads to decentralization and decision making at the nodal level (Boyd). Crucially, references to sociological favorites such as ‘capitalism’, ‘power’, ‘the social’ are rendered irrelevant.

The Network Society: utopian narratives of global communication [lecture]

Prezi from a lecture on utopian narratives of global communication, tracing the roots of cyber-utopianism from the revolutionary influence of the telegraph, to personal computers and the technical architecture of the internet. The telegraph brought the metaphor of communication networks as nervous system, a metaphor also linking the separation of information from carrier to the separation of mind from body. These tropes are still with us more than 150 years later.

Specialization is for insects

‘A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.’

-Robert A. Heinlein

Istanbul pictures

First it was Byzantion – the city of Byzas. Then it was Constantinople – the city of Constantine. The vikings from the Varangian Guard called it Miklagard – the Great City. Its citizens called it The City – as no other European city deserved to be called that in comparison. The Turks called it Istanbul – a corruption of the Greek eis ten polin (to the city).

I imagine the conquerors were pointing at the city while asking very slowly in Turkish a random Greek peasant ‘What do you call that’, to which the peasant probably replied equally slowly in Greek ‘Yes, that way to the city’. Hence Istanbul.

An amazing place.

Click on the image to see all my Istanbul albums on picasa.

Hagia Sophia

Global connections: from the telegraph to cyberspace [lecture]

Well, the time for leisure, travel, reading, and research is over – back to lectures, tutorials, and endless admin. Below are the slides for my first lecture for this session, tracing an outline of the history of communication networks over the last 150 years. A hasty trip from telegraphy to the internet, with an emphasis on the notion of information networks as a nervous system spanning space.