September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

Framing a Transformative Vision for Black Lives


September 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

Ten years after The Sweet Nothing

September 20, 2016 § Leave a comment’s-business-innovation

Crisp hack

September 9, 2016 § Leave a comment


a crisper sound


Now to get some work done

Hackers, the Left, and possibilities for radical democracy

September 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

This post is just a way of pointing to a couple of provocative chunks of text from two sources: an abstract for a presentation by Toni Prug at the 6th Historical Materialism annual conference (2009), that suggests that

Dismissing the dysfunctionalism of the parliamentary capitalist-democratic framework is easy, what do we replace it with? This presentation argues that the objects of future egalitarian societies are all around us. From Free Software, Linux, Google and Facebook, to rough consensus, electronic books and financial and organizational openness – it is our task to rethink and re-purpose whatever possible. We need to become generic hackers, turning anything to our advantage, learning from capitalists who for centuries used whatever we opposed them with as a source of their own strength. […] Hacking is a political possibility that is here, in front of us. Its possibilities are open and yet to be determined. The State-forms of all kinds (local councils, courts, parliaments, political parties, unions, childcare, health, educational and social care institutions) await to be hacked.


and a nicely-written article on the IETF from 1995 by Paulina Forsook for Wired titled “How Anarchy Works”:

The Internet, perhaps the greatest instantiation of self-organization the planet has ever seen, evolves in its fractious decentralized way through the Internet Engineering Task Force, the IETF.

In the IETF, there’s a kind of direct, populist democracy that most of us have never experienced: Not in democratically elected government, where too many layers of pols and polls and image and handling intervene. Not in radical politics, where too often, the same old alpha-male/top-dog politics prevail despite the countercultural objectives pursued. And not in the feminist collective world, where so much time is spent establishing total consensus and dealing with the concerns of process queens that little gets done. The IETF provides a counter-example of true grass-roots political process that few of us have ever had the privilege to participate in, outside of the backstories about member planets of the Star Trek Federation. IETF group process succeeds because of a profound connection with, and understanding of, the real world of networking.

MIT professor Dave Clark, one of the grand old men of the Internet, may have unintentionally written the IETF anthem in his A Cloudy Crystal Ball/Apocalypse Now presentation at the 24th annual July 1992 IETF conference. Today, it’s immortalized on T-shirts: “We reject: kings, presidents, and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code.” Which might translate to, “In the IETF, we don’t allow caucusing, lobbying, and charismatic leaders to chart our path, but when something out on the Net really seems to work and makes sense to most of us, that’s the path we’ll adopt.”

Most IETF work is done over e-mail between meetings, using Net dist-list servers. But its pioneers, ever smart and sensible, knew that people must occasionally meet face to face, that the bandwidth of real-time conversation can make issues-resolution a hell of a lot more efficient, and that sometimes the most important work that humans do happens in that most fertile, inadvertent, and self-organizing fashion: over dinner, in the hallways, late at night over drinks. (

ANT and ethnography

September 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

we believe ANT [Actor-Network Theory] is here to stay, and for good reason. Despite some specific limits we describe later, ANT, to invoke Lamont’s (2012) recent assessment of Bourdieu, is “good to think with.” But, as John Law and Vicky Singleton argue in the afterword, it may also provide some valuable ways to act in and on the world. As a set of sensibilities, a disposition, or an attitude—rather than a rigid framework—ANT’s skepticism towards “catch-all” explanatory theories and pre-defined field sites, as well as its attention to the sociologies of non-sociologists and practices of world-making opens up important vistas about the ethical and political nature of research.

our current overlapping research interests in the circulation of expert knowledge and contemporary political projects seem fettered by more conventional sociological and anthropological treatments and the prescriptions they invite: top-down vs. grassroots development; the state vs. civil society; institutional monocropping vs. public deliberation; global neoliberalism vs. local resistance. Unsatisfied by these clunky dichotomies, ANT’s resistance to structural metaphors and inherited divisions (i.e. human versus nonhuman) appeared to us as a way to investigate the messy thickness of social and political life. In the words of Latour (2005b, 137), the ostensible spokesperson and high-priest of the approach, ANT was designed to break with the practice of “taking a free ride through all-terrain entities like Society, Capitalism, Empire, Norms, Individualism, Fields, and so on.” In a characteristically iconoclastic way, ANT writings have sought to replace these “vague all encompassing sociological terms” with descriptions of “more realistic and smaller sets of associations” (Latour 1996b, 2). Captivated but unsure about its political and methodological implications, we proceeded to read, reflect, and engage ANT in our respective projects.

Baiocchi, G., Graizbord, D. & Rodríguez-Muñiz, M. Qual Sociol (2013) 36: 323

A note on provincialising the academy

September 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

Several years ago I wrote a blogpost that briefly discussed ‘Asia as Method’; today I read something that reminded me of this but put it in slightly different terms:

research on mobilities beyond the Global North is for the most part conducted by scholars born in or at least trained in the center—academic institutions in the Western world or heavily influenced by Western thought. Conversations on the geographies of mobility would be greatly enriched if they became more ” worlded ” in the way urban theory is now starting to be (McCann, Roy, and Ward 2013; Sheppard, Leitner, and Maringanti 2013; Sheppard et al. 2015). The result will be the coming into being of geographies of mobility that durably reconfigure familiar distributions of core and periphery, theory and empirics.

I read this on this webpage – where it was quoted more-or-less exactly as I have rendered it here – but in fact it comes from the following article:

page 251

On the webpage where I initially read this quote, there were links to other articles referring to the idea of provincialising particular fields of study. This seemed like a good alternative way of summarising the idea of Asia as Method.

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