Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Human Agency' keyword pg.1 of 2
21 DECEMBER 2015

Adam Curtis: our defeatist response to contradictory narratives

"So much of the news this year [2014] has been hopeless, depressing and above all confusing. To which the only response is 'Oh Dear' But what this film is going to suggest is that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control and to understand how this is happening you have to look to Russia and to a man called Vladislav Surkov who is a hero of our time. Surkov is one of President Putin's advisors and has helped him maintain his power for fifteen years, but he has done it in a very new way. He came originally from the avant-garde art world and those who have studied his career say that what Surkov has done is import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics."

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2014Adam CurtisAfghanistanapathyausterity measuresavant-garde art • Bashar al-Assad • bewildering • British troops • Chancellor of the Exchequer • Charlie Brooker • conceptual artconfusion tacticsconspiracy theoriesconstant changecontradictory narratives • contradictory vaudeville • controlcrimedaesh • defeatism • defeatist response • destabilised perceptiondisc jockey • ebola • economy • evil enemy • financial crimes • George Osbornehuman agencyhyperrealityincoherencemedia machine • non-linear war • non-linear world • perceptions of realitypolitical control • political strategy • post-traditional societypublic thought • quantitative easing • Russia • Russian politics • ruthless elite • shapeshiftingsimulacrasmokescreen • strategy of power • Syria • those in power • Ukraineuncertainty • undermine perceptions • Vladimir PutinVladislav Surkovwhat is really happening

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2015

Addiction is a social (rather than individual) phenomenon

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2D animation • adaptive state • addictionaffective consumptionalcohol abuse • alcoholism • behavioral addiction • behavioural psychology • Bruce Alexander • chemical dependencycompulsive behaviourdrug addiction • drug dependence • drug taking • drug use • gambling • gambling addiction • human agencyhuman connection • in a nutshell • information design • Johann Hari • kurzgesagt • life crisis • mental health disorders • Moby Digg • Munich • negative consequences • out of control • overdose • parallax scrolling effect • Philipp Dettmer • physical dependency • pornography addiction • punishmentscrolling experiencesociabilitysocial agencysocial behaviour • social connection • social experimentssocial interaction • social isolation • social responsibility • Stephan Rether • substance abusesubstance dependencetraumatroopsunhealthy behaviourVietnam war • war on drugs • YouTube channel

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2013

The struggle for technology: instrumentalism versus culture

"This age–old conflict about social status remains at the heart of present–day struggles over the meanings of technology. On one side, defenders of technicians view technologies as creative expressions of human culture. In this view, technology is imbued with human values and strivings in all their contradictory complexity. I term this position the 'cultural' approach to technology. On the other side are those who see technological action as a narrow form of rationality that seeks only the best means for a given end. For such people, technology is something purely technical, essentially uncreative and devoid of values, subordinate to ends given by others. I call this second position the 'instrumental' conception of technology. ...

the discourse of technology favors the instrumental over the cultural. An entire tradition of philosophical critique is based on a reduction of technology to instrumental rationality. But technological enthusiasts also embrace the instrumental definition of technology. From their perspective, our modern technological civilization represents the embodiment of reason in the world, with new technologies as the vanguard of progress. Technological utopians like Kevin Kelly epitomize this instrumental perspective. In contrast, the cultural understanding of technology recognizes the creativity expressed in everything from steam engines to iPhones. But the cultural approach is definitely in the minority. This view is most common among people like me, historians of technology and other scholars who connect technological choices to specific aspects of culture and society."

(Eric Schatzberg, Rethinking Technology)

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aesthetic creativity • aesthetic sensibility • aristocratic hierarchies • concrete material practices • contradictory complexity • craft skills • creative expression • creativity and craft • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and society • Eric Schatzberg • fear of technology • formal knowledge • genius of the individualhuman agencyinstrumental conception of technology • instrumental means • instrumental rationality • instrumentalism • inventive genius • just a tool • Karl Capek • Kevin Kellylate modernitymaterial culture • means to an end • modern technological civilization • new technologies • non-technical qualities • out of controlprogress narrativesscientific knowledgesocial hierarchiessymptomatic determinism • technical elite • technical skill • technician • technological action • technological choices • technological determinism • technological enthusiasts • technological instrumentalismtechnological utopianismtechnology as neutral • technology discourse • technology is a tooltechnology neutralitytechnology transparency • transparent technologies • value ladenvalues

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 SEPTEMBER 2013

Technology is not neutral, it embodies values...

"What all of this means is that technology is not neutral. It embodies values, both in how it is constructed and in the decision to deploy it. As such, it refers to its history of use and the practices that surround it. The observation that 'the computer is just a tool' is missing the point. It is a tool with a point of view and with the ability to change user behavior and our expectations of information. Additionally, as technology becomes more immersive–exists more as a convincing simulation of some reality it is no longer a tool or a medium in the same sense as pen and ink. It represents its own world, one with implicit and explicit rules, communities of practice, and transformative power over what and how things mean. The technological responsibility of the graphic designer is therefore not simply to master software programs, but to understand the technological context as enabling or constraining cognitive and social behaviors that have a direct impact on the success of communication."

(Meredith Davis, p.92)

Davis, M. (2012). "Graphic Design Theory", Thames & Hudson.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 MAY 2010

Software is increasingly making a difference to the constitution and production of everyday life

"The reason that a focus on Web 2.0 is significant and needed is because the popular web applications it represents are driven by users providing endless and virtually unlimited information about their everyday lives. To put it in Lash's terms, they are clearly on the inside of the everyday, they are up close, they afford direct and routine connections between people and software. We have not yet begun to think through how this personal information might be harvested and used. A starting point would be to find out how this information about everyday mundane lives is being mined, how this feeds into 'relational databases', and with what consequences: the very types of question that are being asked by the writers discussed here. Alongside this it is also important that we consider how the information provided by users, and other 'similar' users, might affect the things they come across. If we return to Last.fm, which 'learns' users' tastes and preferences and provides them with their own taste–specific online radio station, it is possible to appreciate how the music that people come across and listen to has become a consequence of algorithms. This is undoubtedly an expression of power, not of someone having power over someone else, but of the software making choices and connections in complex and unpredictable ways in order to shape the everyday experiences of the user. How we find the books that shape our writing could be a question we might ask ourselves if we wish to consider the power that algorithms exercise over us and over the formation of knowledge within our various disciplines. (I know of at least two occasions when Amazon has located a book of interest for me that has then gone on to form an important part of a published work.) This is not just about Amazon, it would also include searches on Google Scholar, the use of the bookmarking site Del.icio.us, the RSS feeds we might use, or the likely coming applications that will predict, locate and recommend research articles we might be interested in. Readers based in the UK will also by now be considering the power of algorithms to decide the allocation of research funding as the role of metrics in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) are finalized."

(David Beer, 996–997)

Beer, D. (2009). "Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious." New Media & Society 11(6).

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2009Amazon.com • blogjects • Bruce Sterling • coded objects • cognisphere • communicationcontent creation • context-aware • convergencecrisis of empiricism • cultural formations • cultural formsdatadata miningDel.icio.usdigital culturedynamic interfaceseveryday lifeflows • geodemographic classification • Google Scholarhuman agencyidentityinformationinformation society • intelligent devices • internet of thingsKatherine HaylesLast.fm • logjects • marketing discrimination • mediationmetadatamodes of being • modes of classification • modes of knowing • new media • new new media ontology • Nigel Thrift • old mediaperformative infrastructurespersonal data • post-hegemony • powerResearch Excellence FrameworkRFIDRoger BurrowsRSSScott Lashsocial bookmarkingsocial networkingsocial participation • software sorting • SPIMES • Steve Graham • technological unconscious • technology • transducting space • transformationubiquitous information flowsUKurban studiesvirtual spacesWeb 2.0William Mitchell

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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