The video below captures Bernard Stiegler’s talk at the UnLike Us #3 conference in March 2013, the content of which is similar to that of a talk he gave at Warwick in January 2013. The associated publication for the conference series has a good contribution from Stiegler too, available online.
Bernard Stiegler has published another new book in French entitled ‘Pharmacologie du Front National‘, or the ‘Pharmacology of the National Front’, which came out on the 27th of March 2013. This follows on, of course, from some of the work in the Disbelief and Discredit book series but also, and perhaps more importantly, from his other, untranslated, political work, perhaps in particular the two-book series entitled Constituer l’Europe, in which Stiegler examines the effect of the destruction of psychic and collective individuation on Europe, as well as the forthcoming (in English) The Re-enchantment of the World. The National Front have arguably been a particular concern for Stiegler for some time. The essay/lecture To Love, to Love Me, to Love Us is dedicated to ‘the electors of the National Front’, of whom Steiglers says:
“…I feel close. I feel close to them because they are people who suffer and who cause me to suffer. They cause me to suffer because in the proximity of their suffering, I feel them infinitely distanced from me–and I feel infinitely far from them. I feel that this distance is our lost community. The distance is paradoxically the vanishing point for our common suffering and, as such, our proximity. What is common to us is the feeling of absolute separation. But this concerns not only our common suffering, but also the suffering that separates us. If I feel close to those people wool suffer while they also make me suffer, if I suffer with them, I do not suffer only because they make me suffer. I suffer also with them from that which makes them suffer.” (taken from Acting Out, p. 38).
It is this common suffering of distance and separation that is our ‘loss of community’ that undermines the We of transindividuation, that is the communal becoming (betwixt and between the I and the We) of what it is to be ‘human’, and which is a destruction of the ways in which we come to know ourselves and our places in the world (psychic and collective individuation) through which forms of collective intelligence and society in general are performed and co-produced–such that it might become that ‘there is no such thing as society’. This stems from a dissolution of belief (in a/the future) into calculable forms of ‘trust’ (i.e. financial systems as the only arbiters of trust – such that it must always have a financial value), the narcissistic and conniving use of power by the elites, and the wilful stupidity to which we all submit as increasingly passive consumers.
Phillipe Petit,member of Ars Industrialis and co-author with Stiegler of the book of interviews ‘The Hypermaterial Economy and Pyschopower’, has recently offered an interesting introductory essay to ’Pharmacologie du Front National‘ on the French current affairs website Mariane. Its in French unfortunately but contains some good points:
Petite suggests that Stiegler argues that the ideology of the last few decades, of neoliberalism and neo-conservativism, has been the source of the increasing belief that there is nothing we can do against the rising stupour/stupidity, the kind of nihilism, of submitting to the base drives of selfishness and consumerism – in fact, we are led to believe that there is no alternative.
The National Front is for Stiegler, according to Petite, a prime symptom of this malady that afflicts society, for which he (Stiegler) wants to offer a form of medicine.
Stiegler argues that there is an alternative: an ‘economy of transition’, capable of surpassing consumer capitalism–which has become structurally speculative and toxic. The three points of focus for this transitional economy Stiegler identifies (according to Petite) are: the digital, the inauguration of a new form of public authority/power, and the reconstruction of our capacities for attention.
The new book therefore is combative, it fights against the trend not to attempt to fully explain our problems or to care about them (and each other, for that matter), which has led to the creation of scapegoats, amongst the groups of those disenfranchised by the political economic mess, who become persecuted by others, who are also disenfranchised. For Stiegler, this is the polarising form of suffering to which the National Front both succumbs and meets out.
In the essay, Petite closes with the paragraph [very rough translation]:
Will his proposals allow our country to escape its demons? Stiegler has the pride or the weakness to believe so. He is consulted in the highest places, and is not reluctant to be. The sense of urgency that runs through his work is not for him an affectation, and with a genuine and youthful desire he thinks that utopia deserves the effort.
Indeed, Stiegler has argued elsewhere that if we do not combat (critique and offer alternatives to) the rampant stupidity, and toxicity, of the contemporary situation we further the loss of desire to construct an alternative, more just, more sustainable, and more caring system. As he argues, in his inimitable terminology, at the end of To Love, to Love Me, to Love Us:
If we do not enact an ecological critique of the technologies and the industries of the spirit as markets lead to a ruin comparable to that which the Soviet Union and the great capitalist countries have been able to create by exploiting territories or natural resources without any care to preserve their habitability to come–the future–then we move ineluctably toward a global social explosion, that is, toward absolute war. (in Acting Out, pp. 81-2).
The release of this new book seems to be garnering some press attention in France. I cannot imagine that it will be translated into English, given its particular focus on the French society, but it will be interesting to see how this line of argument feeds into Stiegler’s broader work.
On the 30th of April 2004, the French newspaper Le Monde published an essay by Bernard Stiegler entitled ‘De la croyance en politique‘ (Belief in politics), in which Stiegler puts forth a robust and shortened version of his political argument contained within his Disbelief and Discredit series of books.
To summarise in all-too-brief terms, industrialisation has led to a sceptical and conniving form of capitalism that has proletarianised all of us, not only the ‘workers’ (in Marx’s terms), but also the consumers.
In such a system, everything has become calculable – even belief – which becomes a form of (financially) secured trust. ‘Free time’, which was used to dedicate oneself to favourite activities and to rest (‘otium’), has become calculable in the form of the activities of consumption. This proletarianisation undermines the processes of sublimation by which base drives are translated into more positive libidinal energies, instead fixing those drives in forms of consumption and stupidity.
The base drives of consumption for its own sake and the associated credulity lead us to a disbelief that undermines our faith in one another and our belief in the potential of the future. It is the persistent calculated short-termism of immediate profit that undermines our ability to construct plans for the future.
Stiegler argues that the political economy can still be rehabilitated (see my previous translations and comments about the ‘economy of contribution’). He calls for a re-examination of our belief in politics and a re-invigoration of our desire for knowledge and enlightenment: our desire to ‘elevate’ ourselves. It is through this re-invigoration of political, social and economic life, Stiegler argues, that a new, positive, ‘industrial spirit’ can be formed.
I found translating this text rather hard and I expect it may need further work – the original French can be found here. I would very much welcome any comments and corrections, please use the comments form at the bottom of the page or email me.
As usual, I have included the original French or possible alternative words in square brackets where I am unsure about phrases. I hope that others find this essay as provocative and interesting as I have – I feel it brings out, in a short text, something of Stiegler’s political argument.
Belief in politics
Bernard Stiegler – Le Monde, 30th April 2004
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the liquidation of singularities has instigated both a total loss of confidence amongst the proletariat and a calculating disbelief and has proven powerful, increasingly hegemonic and arrogant.
The scepticism that emerged during the European elections was only one of the many lamentable results of a disbelief in politics ravaging the contemporary world. This collapse of belief in politics has a history, which must now be analysed.
After the industrial revolution transformed into proletarians those that ushered in a new world [les ouvreurs de monde qu'étaient], in their own way, and aside from the clerks - those who work as labourers, workers and producers in general – the globalisation of capitalism was accomplished in the twentieth century by imposing a proletarianisation of the consumer. The proletariat as a whole is robbed of all of their knowledge, whether it is their savoir-faire or their savoir-vivre, and is now condemned to a life-without-knowledge, that is to say, without flavour [saveurs]. It is thrown into an insipid, at times disgusting, world: a misery that is in turn economic, symbolic and libidinal.
As with the producers, the proletarianisation of consumers affects all social strata, well beyond the “working class”. It leads to a state of consumption resulting from the capture and deviation of the libidinal economy by marketing technologies: the rational exploitation of the libido by industrial means which exhaust the energy that constitutes it.
However, the political community is constituted by its “philia” (a goodness [amicalité] that binds those who compose it) which is entirely libidinal. In other words, consumption tends to liquidate the process of political individuation that has characterised the Occident since the poets, geometrists and legislators, founders of the cities of ancient Greece, the pre-Socratic thinkers, questioned this individuation as the mystery of the One and the Many, thereby politicising the world through thought, and thus trans-forming thought, which is to say through legislation, thereby affirming the power of ideas.
Is a politics still possible today that will not essentially be a struggle, a “polemos”, in the language of Heraclitus (c. 576-about 480 BC.) against the depletive trend of existential, temporal and sapiential resources without which it seems any psychic and collective individuation whatsoever is impossible – including, perhaps, the after life beyond all politics? [au-delà de ou par-delà toute politique?]
The control society, following the philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), as the implementation of calculative technologies that allow the institution of a life lived by the imperatives of industrial production, continues and complicates the ‘rationalisation’ described by the German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920). To develop his analysis of “Beruf” as “vocation to make money” (“the capitalist system needs this dedication to the mission of making money”), Weber notes of the worker that, when his salary is increased, he works less: he chooses to take his time.
The worker that labours thus looks forward to free and social time formerly called “otium”. If he earns more money, it reduces his working time for the freedom of his own time, not only to survive and sub-sist, which contradicts the “spirit of capitalism”. Therefore it is necessary to lower his salary to make him work: such is the poverty that inevitably accompanies proletarianization.
At the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States, with Fordism as the new industrial model and politics, the producer must be a consumer. This new rationality becomes all the more necessary as the Great Depression of the 1930s expresses the famous “contradictions of capitalism”. This is how marketing becomes king, beginning the process of the proletarianisation of the consumer.
However, the generalized proletarianisation as a loss of existence [existences] as well as livelihoods, imposed on all individualities, mental or collective, is a question of subjection to a constant pressure in order to particularize and de-singularise, to eventually cause a collapse of reason, if by “reason” we mean the reason for living of what Aristotle calls the noetic soul and which he described as a “politics” insofar as they are motivated by and inclined towards “philia”. This reason, which Aristotle (circa 322 to 384-BC.) called “theos”: is the advent of the onto-theological-political par excellence.
The proletarianised rationalisation of the producer, which involves the transformation of “logos” into “ratio”, that is, concretising the “death of God”, replaces the question of belief with that of trust. This is why the dollar expresses the thought of the American politician Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), whose sermons guided the analysis of Weber, by the statement inscribed on the greenback: “In God we trust”. Belief has become, according to Franklin’s sermons, legitimately calculable, which is its transformation into what we thus call trust.
This is the fruit of the development of capitalism that consists as a new state of mind, which requires, as Weber shows, an “absolute confidence in innovations” and the reign of trust. Capitalism is the constant – and literally fascinating – invention of new modes of production and consumption that must be developed against tradition, and which require the development of a fully calculable trust that comes up against belief.
However, in the early twenty-first century, the liquidation of singularities and the destructive trend of the libidinal economy, squeezes everyone, if only by denial, inducing both the total loss of confidence in the proletarians and a calculating [conniving] and powerful disbelief amongst the powerful, who are increasingly hegemonic and arrogant.
Generalized discredit therefore responds to this total proletarianisation and threatens the capitalist system at its very heart: the rational development of trust leads to the rational destruction of all belief – that is to say, of any future. This is the nihilism against which Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), contrary to so many clichés, calls for another faith: “And you must sail the seas, you emigrants, you too are compelled to this by – a faith” he writes in The Gay Science.
Today, suffering is experienced dreadfully by everyone everywhere as disbelief and discredit, which could not happen (it took a century, as Nietzsche announced) until the moment when the libido, desire in the Freudian sense, not just interest in the Weberian sense, became an object of calculation with the view to its systematic exploitation.
Also necessary is the issue that may appear today in the return of the theological-political, the new issue of belief in politics is less a return to religion than a return of what has been repressed through the death of God: it is the issue of consistence [la consistance] as what does not exist and cannot be the subject of calculation, because it leaves distinct, but does not oppose, cause and “ratio”. The issue is how existence relates to consistence, which does not exist, to compose (with) the incalculable: “One must have had in the poem a number such that it prevents counting” writes the poet and playwright Paul Claudel (1868-1955), and so it is not that there is no God for, although he does not exist, he consists. It is the same for art, justice, and ideas in general. Ideas do not exist: they only consist. Such is their strength, their power, as Freud says. Such is the power of knowledge, taste, wisdom.
With God dead, the devil yet remains, and as trust consumes and eliminates any belief, it risks forever ruining the industrial-becoming of the world. However, first and foremost this is a case of not diabolising the devil [diaboliser ce diable 2]. This is about fighting the hegemony of calculative trust, which eats itself [autophage] and can only engender discredit. For if God is dead, in other words the revelation of his absence, it does not necessarily nullify the issue of consistence, with the development of the spirit of capitalism, calculable becoming is what is planned, as existences (as singularities), consistencies (ideas, knowledge and powers) this becoming, without this future which is not automatically equivalent, is what tends to reduce these consistencies to ashes: the ashes of nonexistent and inconsistent subsistence. Insipid.
This is the consumption it is necessary to fight, as economic hegemony, questioning anew the belief in politics.
This is an issue of who can say yes to becoming, but with the condition here of distinguishing a future that does not obviously and entirely coincide with becoming. Confusion of the two is precisely how disbelief becomes the carrier of discredit. This is what has pushed the entire political class into a shameful cynicism that purely reduces modernity to the management of the need to adapt to power without knowledge of calculation. However, belief can never consist of the projection in and towards what takes place beyond any adaptable horizon because the reason for any real invention proceeds from the power of ideas, which is to say that any opening (through work, labour) of a future is as equally possible as it is indeterminate.
The question of belief in politics must revisit and distinguish, but not oppose, “otium” and “negotium”, placed at the heart of the political question of culture defined as a worship of this distinction, which does not oppose but compose without renunciation. Culture is by no means ghettoized by any “cultural policy”, whether it is national, European or even global (UN) or whether it is traditional or “hypermodernist”, in which “exception” or “diversity” may form a good or bad conscience: In the age of cultural capitalism, politics must principally become a politics of singularities, for the invention of a new industrial age and an ecology of spirit [écologie de l'esprit].
 The translation of this passage is taken from Daniel Ross’ translation of Stiegler B. 2011 The Decadence of Industrial Democracies: Disbelief and Discredit 1. Polity, Cambridge. See page 90.
 Elsewhere Stiegler plays on the image of the diabol/devil as a divisive force in the processes of transindividuation – the “great third that constitutes authority as such, beyond the I and the we”:
“If ‘God is dead’, the ‘devil’ is still alive and well. This is what remains for thought–as that which is contained in the remains, that is, in the traces of the he that has become, in its death, the primary material of consciousness commensurable on the market” (Acting Out, p. 71).
I recently came across an interesting interview with Bernard Stiegler on the ‘Views on the digital’ (Regards sur le Numerique) blog by Microsoft France, from 2011. The interview focusses on the rise of open data, as a movement and a phenomenon.
Stiegler suggests that ‘open data’ is a singular and important aspect of a ‘change of epoch’ taking place through the sociotechnical capacities of internetworked digital technologies. It is the capacities for making information public and sharable that we realise with and through digital technologies that are making possible a social and political shift. This is, of course, not without risk — in Stiegler’s terms these new capacities for becoming (or in his terminology – transindividuation) are pharmacological, the particular ways in which they play out in the world can be both a ‘poison’ and a ‘cure’ (following Plato’s argument that writing is a pharmakon). Elsewhere, Stiegler argues that such an economy of ‘pharmka’ is a therapeutic — it is possible to resolve the poison/cure relation either way — that is not dialectical (i.e. an opposition) but rather a composition of tendencies that emerge in the relations of a milieu.
Open data, as ‘grammatised’ (discrete) forms of externalised memory (or hypomnemata), are compositional not least because of their ‘openness’ to use and reuse. Metadata, as the organisational forms that facilitate the composition of complex structures of information, generate the possibility of new organisational forms (a new ‘organology’ in Stiegler’s terms) that facilitate the ‘pollination’ of new ideas through forms of collective intelligence. These are the bases for what Stiegler considers to be the positive economic (therapeutic) model that he describes as the economy of contribution.
An economy of contribution facilitates a ‘de-proletarianisation’ of those contributing to the economy by maximally recognising their contributions, above and beyond the short-term imperative for financial profitability. This enables all of us to re-engage of capacities for critical knowledge, our life skills (savoir vivre), our practical capacities and techniques (savoir faire), and ultimately our care for one another and for our shared world. It is through (open) metadata and clever digital systems that such recognition of ‘positive externalities’, Stiegler argues, can be achieved. All of this is not easy, as the activitist association that Stiegler heads-up, Ars Industrialis, acknowledge in their manifesto, but that doesn’t mean to say its not worth pursuing…
Readers may also find of interest two other interviews with Stiegler I have translated: Bernard Stiegler: “We are entering an era of contributory work” and Overconsumption and the economy of contribution.
I hope this is of interest to people. It is a fairly quick translation so it may need a little more work and, as usual, I’ve added some clarifications in square brackets. All of the emphasis is original.
Bernard Stiegler: Open data is “an event of a magnitude comparable to the appearance of the alphabet”.
To accompany the reflective workshop concerning the phenomenon of open data that we organised for the 17th of March , we are sharing a series of articles, reports and analyses around the question of the liberation of data. We offer to you here an interview with Bernard Stiegler, philosopher and director of the Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI, Pompidou Centre) concerning the values of the open data movement.
RSLN: What does the development of open data represent in the great adventure of the digital?
Bernard Stiegler: This is the culmination of a major rupture already well under way, and which has never been previously seen. All of the technologies monopolised by the culture industry, in the broadest sense of the term, for a century, are now moving into the hands of the citizens.
It is an event of a magnitude comparable to the appearance of the alphabet which, as a technics of publication, which is to say that which renders public, is the basis of the res publica, just like what took place after Gutenberg and the Reformation, generalising access to the printed word and knowledge.
Today, all industrial, cultural and scientific digital activities leave a digital trace that everyone can use thanks to tools which are becoming increasingly accessible. This is more than a major issue: this is a change of epoch. And to think about the phenomenon of open data, which is a singular aspect of this change, it is necessary to consider metadata: which is what makes data active.
RSLN: Open data is only part of this revolution…
Bernard Stiegler: Every one of us now is not only using digital tools, but participates through their practices in the production of metadata. However, metadata have played an important role in human destiny since prehistory: in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries clay tablets were discovered that were covered with cuneiform that describes the content of other tablets – these are the first known index systems: the first metadata.
Whoever masters the production of metadata has a power over collective memory: it can condition public debate and learning. With the digital, what was once top down production becomes bottom up, which changes the production and dissemination of knowledge, which is no longer the sole preserve of established powers (political, religious, industrial…) – the typical example of this transfer [of agency] being Wikipedia.
Of course, the movement is very disorganised and remains little analysed, furthermore, while some [people] consciously create metadata, many do not realize that they are made the objects of calculation via the cookies that “deposit” themselves on their computers or [they] self-index themselves on the web via Facebook or their blogs.
RSLN: How can this disorder become virtuous?
Bernard Stiegler: The design of the society of tomorrow will depend on recognising the importance of this phenomenon. If this is insufficient, we will lay ourselves open to a veritable automation of society, in which only a few have control. It is therefore imperative to deliberate in a public and reasoned way.
It is in the context of this new democratic possibility that open data is constructed. A large number of powers hold data that they do not want to give up because their power is based on the retention of that very same information. At the same time, we know that secrecy may be necessary – whether protecting private life, or enabling the avoidance of war, and inscribing in the real-time of decision-making a time of delay which allows a moment of reflection.
Nevertheless, democracy is always linked to a process of publication – which is to say a rendering public – which makes possible a public space: of letters, print, broadcast, digital. The critique put forward by Plato of the use of writing by the Sophists shows us that this equally brings dangers.
A total re-establishment of public affairs will have to take place – and here we must not let this take place at the sole initiative of the economic world, which is to say only by private interests, the recent economic crisis shows us that they never coincide with the public good.
RSLN: The nascent open data movement nevertheless seems to meet very different objectives and sometimes even very different ideologies?
Bernard Stiegler: That is true. So, for Barack Obama and Al Gore, who advises him, it undoubtedly leads to the reconstruction of a critical power inspired by the Enlightenment and the “founding fathers” against the hegemony of the cultural industries. While in the neo-liberal spirit of David Cameron in Great Britain, the aim is instead to bypass the public services.
RSLN: Indeed, can the development of Open Data withstand the demand for profitability, which is not evident in the short term?
Bernard Stiegler: I have put forward the model of an economy of contribution, which takes into account what economists call positive externalities, where we come to value activities that take place outside of the market, and which also lead to development and empowerment, in the sense of Amartaya Sen. [For example,] During the baby boom period, the educational work of mothers which was conducted outside of the economic sphere was fully taken into account – and I do not think we can monetize this activity by turning it into a “service”.
Collective intelligence has become the main economic value. The best ideas are born in the fertile soil and common knowledge that are not generally in the model of immediate profitability but are a kind of “pollination.”
The result is much more interesting than what we can impose through a Jacobin state [a centralised republic] or large corporations, whose intelligence should [instead] be in the service of valuing and supporting new ‘green shoots’. The role of public power is, especially in the realm of public-private partnerships, to foster the creation of spaces that can support the recovery process.
As my colleague Patrick Crogan has posted on the technophilia blog, an excellent theme issue of the humanities journal New Formations concerning the work of Bernard Stiegler has now been released. Edited by Ben Roberts, Jeremy Gilbert and Mark Hayward, the issue contains an interesting interview with Stiegler, contributions from Patrick, Ben Roberts, Mark Hansen, Stephen Barker (who offers some translated passages from the forthcoming Re-enchantment of the World – the published version of which is being translated by Trevor Arthur), and Marcel Swiboda. There is even a short glossary! You can access the issue online through Ingenta Connect, for which many institutions have subscriptions. It is definitely worth checking out.
Mark Graham linked, on twitter, to an MIT Technology Review article concerning recent work conducted by MS Research around the theme of ‘viral search’ – the ways in which ideas spread across social networking systems. This work has also been demonstrated in poster presentations, including the presentation documented in the video below. Just on a brief reflection, it is interesting that the visualisations demonstrate the multiple emergence of ‘contagious’ trends – lots of separate people will initiate parallel waves of re-tweeting of a particular story, picture or video. Of course, there’s no way of knowing what the initial impetus for tweeting may have been for tweeting, so there may also be cross-media contagion taking place that is not picked up by this system.
Perhaps this also signals a need to critically examine the implicit authority of ‘big’ data sets – just as it does with maps. The base data, whether it be cartographic or social, assumes an authority by virtue of its apparent completeness, accessibility (at least to those who can pay), and sheer scale. Nevertheless, certain characteristics may be favoured, or silenced, by the nature of the organisation and representation of the data. No platform is totally neutral…
Stuart Elden has highlighted on his blog that a new book by Andrew Barry entitled ‘Material politics: disputes along the pipeline‘ is forthcoming in the RGS-IBG book series, its currently set for release in September.
Andrew Barry is a thoughtful commentator on the politics intimately concerned with technology and, one might say, technics. His book ‘Political Machines’ was of significant help to me during my PhD work for thinking through how we can conceptualise the sorts of politics that emerge within institutions or networks focused on ‘innovation’ in technology.
Perhaps more importantly, Barry is also one of a still-limited number of social scientists engaging with the work of the philosopher Isabelle Stengers. In fact, his talk at the recent ‘Politics and Matter‘ event held by the University of Bristol’s geography department offered an excellent and rigorous exegesis of Stengers’ project of ‘cosmopolitics’, which, as he suggested, is not easy.
This new book clearly draws upon some of the thinking that Barry has been engaged in around these themes, as the blurb on the book’s web page demonstrates:
In Material Politics, author Andrew Barry reveals that as we are beginning to attend to the importance of materials in political life, materials has become increasingly bound up with the production of information about their performance, origins, and impact.
* Presents an original theoretical approach to political geography by revealing the paradoxical relationship between materials and politics
* Explores how political disputes have come to revolve not around objects in isolation, but objects that are entangled in ever growing quantities of information about their performance, origins, and impact
* Studies the example of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline – a fascinating experiment in transparency and corporate social responsibility – and its wide-spread negative political impact
* Capitalizes on the growing interdisciplinary interest, especially within geography and social theory, about the critical role of material artifacts in political life
Over on his blog Pop Theory, Clive Barnett points out that the ESRC have completed an international benchmarking exercise that argues strongly that British Human Geography is world-leading. As Clive says: ‘say it loud, say it proud’, heh. This news has also featured heavily in my twitter stream this morning…
Clive suggests this is the take-home paragraph:
“Our unanimous conclusion from the evidence presented to us is that human geography in the UK is innovative, vibrant, and in most sub-fields is the world leader. Its students and staff are gifted and committed, its research outputs are disproportionately influential, read and referenced throughout the English-reading world – and, in translation, beyond. It is radically interdisciplinary and with the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences has become an exporter of ideas and faculty to other disciplines. In the 1960s and 1970s the overseas export of geographers was substantial, and though slower today and more likely to be two-way, this trade in academic knowledge continues. UK geographers have an art not only for innovation but also for synthesis and a large number of the seminal publications (books as well as articles) continue to have a UK origin. So too among the major disciplinary journals – the UK publishes more than its share. Bibliometric indicators reveal that both in volume and in citation impact UK human geography exceeds the scores of other countries and almost all UK comparator social sciences. Cumulatively, this evidence supports the conclusion that human geography as a whole in the UK ranks first in the world.”
A few months ago David Beer, reviews editor at Information, Communication & Society, invited me to submit a review of William J Mitchell’s Me++: The cyborg self and the networked city as part of a review symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the book’s publication. The review is now available in the ‘online first’ section of the journal’s website.
The third review of William Mitchell’s Me++ has now been published on the online first section at Information, Communication & Society. It’s a really lively review by Sam Kinsley. This is a new section I’ve developed that provides reviews of important books during significant anniversaries. The idea was to provide a space for reflections on older books to complement the usual book review focus on newness. In this case it is 10 years since Me++ was published. I’m hoping to do a revisiting the classics symposium every year (if anyone has an idea for a book to revisit in 2014 just let me know). The Me++ section will be published in issue 16.9 around October this year. The review by Sam Kinsley will be accompanied by reviews from Roger Burrows and Mark Johnson.
I enjoyed contributing to this review section, it is interesting to return to Mitchell’s work – not least to reflect on how much my own ideas have changed since being an undergraduate!