Category Archives: technology

Observation from Iraq: The Nokia IED trigger

A friend of mine is a journalist for France 24 and is currently in Iraq covering the conflict with IS. His Facebook posts are extraordinary, very powerful, and I wanted to share one of them. So, courtesy of my friend in Iraq (and with his permission), here is a post (verbatim) concerning the use of Nokia 113 phones as IED detonation triggers:


These phones and wires are the remote control detonation devices left behind by Islamic State forces.

The initial activation has a 6 minute timer, after which the fuse becomes “live”.

Then a simple phone call is enough to detonate the explosive charge.

The IS choose this model of Nokia because its battery lasts 10 days. That’s basically a slow fuse that lasts a week and a half.

It’s not failsafe. One phone had 8 missed calls – 8 failed detonation attempts. The Peshmerga commander who found that one says the only jamming device he has is protection from above.

Improvised Explosive Devices are one of the biggest threats the peshmerga face, as the jihadists concede territory.

The fear of bombs has slowed their progress into hostile territory. The Islamists melt away like wraiths, leaving their IEDS to strike blindly at the Peshmerga.

Your email address is worth 100 tea lights…

Ikea Family mailshot: 100 tea lights for your email address

How much is personal data worth? How might that be calculated? These are hard questions. Nevertheless, personal data does attract particular kinds of value, often determined by those harvesting and selling it on, such as Facebook, Google and so on.

These are rarely visible calculations, probably necessarily so – data is sometimes only worth something when it is part of a larger set. We are both an individual and part of one or more populations (which can be variously defined and derived in data). When you make up a ‘segment’ of a given population, your data, and what can thereby be inferred, has a particular value.

For example, the email marketing company Topspin apparently calculate the pecuniary value of a person’s email address to a band harvesting it based upon the amount of money that person (fan) will, on average, go on to spend on their music.

In a recent piece for the New York Times website, Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group, offers an example:

“Facebook has deep, deep data on its users. You can slice and dice markets, like women 25 to 35 who live in the Southeast and are fans of ‘Breaking Bad,’ … The new Atlas platform, she said, “can track people across devices, weave together online and offline.”

The data collected by various market research companies carries a notional value that is sometimes rendered visible in stark ways. Another example illustrates this: In a 2011 article for Huffington Post the price list for marketing data company Rapleaf shows for how much particular pieces of data were sold.  Age and gender are given away free, whereas ‘Likely smart phone user’ is $0.03.

We are thus worth something insofar as we are represented (accurately or otherwise) as a collection of data in one or more databases. We individually value our own data variously, depending on its use, context and so on. An email address, then, may be valuable if it is private, or not valuable if it is used for any old competition entry – this is often contextual and that can, of course, be missed by the marketing data companies (perhaps this is a good thing).

Nevertheless, we, or, more accurately, the data that are used to variously represent us, are commodified – our data-selves are products. Any sense of a unified ‘self’ is possibly too neat, our physically bodied selves rendered endlessly divisible and reducible to data representations, what Deleuze referred to as ‘dividuals’ in his excellent ‘Postscript on Societies of Control‘. There is a real sense in which, thought in this way, we are variously rendered separate from and without control of our representations in data.

The Ikea flyer, pictured above, soliciting an email address for a notional inducement of 100 tea lights made me think through the above and back to the excellent Paying Attention conference of 2010, concerning the idea of attention economies. At the conference, and in other contexts, the redoubtable Tim Kindberg formulated his ‘Facebook data provocations‘ – encouraging others to speculate about what would happen if we (the users) charged Facebook for our data. Thinking back over the academic moment of worry over privacy it seems necessary to continue to think about these things. While the horse has bolted and the stable door has long since been the portal to an upmarket barn conversion, I argue that these  questions remain pertinent.

Paper accepted – Memory programmes: the retention of collective life

I am pleased to share that I have recently had a paper accepted for Cultural Geographies, which will form part of a theme section/issue co-edited by Sarah Elwood and Katharyne Mitchell concerning “Technology, memory and collective knowing”—stemming from a session at the 2013 AAG in Los Angeles.

The paper is entitled ‘Memory programmes: the retention of collective life’ and builds upon a theoretical conference paper I gave at the Conditions of Mediation conference in 2013.

The aim of the article is to interrogate some key elements of how software has become a means of ‘industrialising’ memory, following Bernard Stiegler. This industrialisation of memory involves conserving and transmitting extraordinary amounts of data. Data that is both volunteered and captured in everyday life, and operationalised in large-scale systems. Such systems constitute novel sociotechnical collectives which have begun to condition how we perform our lives such that they can be recorded and retained.

To investigate the programmatic nature of our mediatised collective memory the article has three parts. The first substantive section looks at a number of technologies as means of capturing, operating upon and retaining our everyday activities in ‘industrial’ scale systems of memory. Particular attention is paid to the quasi-autonomous agency of these systems, that appear to operate at a scale and speed that exceeds a human capacity of oversight.

In the second section I look at the mnemonic capabilities of networked technologies of digital mediation as ‘mnemotechnologies’. Following Stiegler, these are technologies and technical supports that both support and reterritorialise what we collectively understand about our everyday lives.

The conclusion of the article addresses the ways in which an ‘industrialisation of memory’ both challenges and transforms the ways in which we negotiate collective life.

I have copied below the abstract and I’d be happy to share pre-publication copies, please contact me via email.


This article argues that, in software, we have created quasi-autonomous systems of memory that influence how we think about and experience life as such. The role of mediated memory in collective life is addressed as a geographical concern through the lens of ‘programmes’. Programming can mean ordering, and thus making discrete; and scheduling, making actions routine. This article addresses how programming mediates the experience of memory via networked technologies. Materially recording knowledge, even as electronic data, renders thought mentally and spatially discrete and demands systems to order it. Recorded knowledge also enables the ordering of temporal experience both as forms of history, thus the sharing of culture, and as the means of planning for futures. We increasingly retain information about ourselves and others using digital media. We volunteer further information recorded by electronic service providers, search engines and social media. Many aspects of our collective lives are now gathered in cities (via CCTV, cellphone networks and so on) and retained in databases, constituting a growing system of memory of parts of life otherwise forgotten or unthought. Using examples, this article argues that, in software, we have created industrialised systems of memory that influence how we think about living together.

Keywords: memory, technology, mnemotechnics, industrialisation, programming, Stiegler

Rob Kitchin on ‘digital geography’

Based on his notes as discussant in the recent ‘co-production of digital geographies‘ sessions at the RGS-IBG conference (2014), Rob Kitchin has written a helpful and concise blog post reflecting on what we might mean when we talk about ‘digital geographies’. This sort of relates to some of what I’ve written about the kinds of spatial imaginaries of a ‘virtual‘ employed within and beyond geography when discussing digital mediation. So, Rob Kitchin’s post is definitely worth a read and I’ve reproduced the body of it here:

Last Friday I acted as a discussant for three sessions (no. 1no. 2no. 3) on Digital Geography presented at the RGS/IBG conference in London.  The papers were quite diverse and some of the discussion in the sessions centred on how to frame and make sense of digital geographies.

In their overview paper, Elisabeth Roberts and David Beel categorised the post-2000 geographical literature which engages with the digital into six classes: conceptualisation, unevenness, governance, economy, performativity, and the everyday.  To my mind, this is quite a haphazard way of dividing up the literature.  Instead, I think it might be more productive to divide the wide range of studies which consider the relationship between the digital and geography into three bodies of work:

Geography of the digital

These works seek to apply geographical ideas and methodologies to make sense of the digital.  As such, it focuses on mapping out the geographies of digital technologies, their associated socio-technical assemblages and production.  Such work includes the mapping of cyberspace, charting the spatialities of social media, plotting the material geographies of ubiquitous computing, detailing the economic geographies of component resources, technologies and infrastructures, tracing the generation and flows of big data, and so on.

Geography produced by the digital

This body of work focuses on how digital technologies and infrastructures are transforming the geographies of everyday life and the production of space.  Such work includes examining how digital technologies and ICTs are increasingly being embedded into different spatial domains – the workplace, home, transport systems, the street, shops, etc.; how they mediate and augment socio-spatial practices and relations such as producing, consuming, communicating, playing, etc; how they shape and remediate geographical imaginaries and how spaces are visioned, planned and built; and so on.

Geography produced through the digital

An increasing amount of geographical scholarship, praxis and communication is now undertaken using digital technologies.  For example, generating, recording and analyzing data using digital devices and associated software and databases; the collection and sharing of datasets and outputs through digital archives and repositories; discussing ideas and conducting debate via mailing lists and social media; writing papers and presentations, producing maps and other visualizations using computers; etc.  A fairly substantial body of work thus reflects on the difference digital technologies make to the production of geographical scholarship.

Taken together these three bodies of work, I would argue, constitute digital geography.

At the same time, however, I wonder about the utility of bounding digital geography and corralling studies within its bounds.  To what extent is it useful to delimit it as a defined field of research?

It might be more productive to reframe much of what is being claimed as digital geography with respect to its substantive focus.  For example, examining the ways in which digital technologies are being pervasively embedded into the fabric of cities and how they modulate the production of urban socio-spatial relations is perhaps best framed within urban geography.  Similarly, a study looking at the use of digital technology in the delivery of aid in parts of the Global South is perhaps best understood as being centrally concerned with development geography.  In other words, it may well be more profitable to think about how the digital reshapes many geographies, rather than to cast all of those geographies as digital geography.

Nonetheless, it is clear that geographers still have much work to do with respect to thinking about the digital.  That is a central task of my own research agenda as I work on the Programmable City project.  I’d be interested in your own thoughts as to how you conceive and position digital geography, so if you’re inclined to share your views please leave a comment.

Visualising mediated interaction

This video, edited by Tony Zhou, offers a nice articulation of the kinds of imaginative strategies for attempting to represent, on film, the ways we interact through screen-based devices (i.e. computers and phones). Zhou demonstrates how the clunky attempts at verité don’t work – showing the screen while someone types takes ages and so its expensive. Instead, employing abstraction – such as floating text bubbles –advances the narrative without the need to film screens.

A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Of course, because these kinds of sequences are in a linear narrative it necessitates the character reading the message instantly – whereas a lot of our screen-based interactions are asynchronous. Its also a narrative device that has been employed in ‘design fiction‘ films to illustrate the abstract communication that takes place by quasi-autonomous software programmes that (will/would/may) underpin the ‘internet of things’. For how else are we to represent the apparently immaterial and abstract mechanisms that constitute what Kitchin and Dodge have called ‘coded spaces’ (and/or coded objects, infrastructures and so on)? For example…

The Social Web of Things from comsicomsa on Vimeo.

What this does, of course, is to render processes that operate in diverse temporalities (like the not-quite-speed-of-light, the speeds of electro-magnetic radiation) which are frequently cyclical and sporadic (CPU cycles and so on) and organised in ways that are oriented towards different modes of legibility (for speed of processing) in the linear conventions of film/tv. We have nuanced understandings of how these things operate within our daily lives (up to a point – they’re mostly figured around individual sensibilities rather than complex collectives) but I’m not really convinced that we have, yet, have a nuanced means of articulating these things.

To adapt what Derek McCormack suggests, these are attempts to represent the ‘abstraction [that] is a constituent element of the background infrastructures that allow life to show up and register as experience’ [p. 720]. The reason I’m framing it this fairly awkward way is that I think what Zhou’s video points to is that it is increasingly difficult for the ‘lay person’ to appreciate and understand the complex assemblages (or, rather, ‘agencements‘) of electronic systems that intimately affect how we live our lives. They are manifestly abstract, but this abstraction is frequently not treated in an affirmative sense but rather in an obfuscatory way.

Thinking about Zhou’s video and the growing impetus amongst social scientists to study the complexities of contemporary networked technologies, I am drawn to the idea that perhaps the kinds of visual devices used in the kinds of videos I’ve discussed here ought to be further employed to help describe and explain how contemporary processes of mediation function… Probably something the students on courses like ‘Design Informatics‘ are already doing..? Its certainly something that ought to be part of any kind of ‘digital studies‘.

Galloway’s Ten Theses on the Digital

In a fairly detailed reading of what might constitute ‘the digital’, principally through the lens of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, Alexander Galloway offers a really interesting and quite rich set of reflections on ‘the digital’ not as the reduction and shattering of being by making everything discrete and infinitely reproducible but as a performance of immanence.

As a sort of crib-sheet, here are Galloway’s ten theses:

Thesis 1. The digital means the one dividing in two.
Thesis 2. The analogue means the two coming together as one.
Thesis 3. An analogy creates an identity.
Thesis 4. The digital produces the transcendental.
Thesis 5. Flat digitality is from the multiplexing of the object.
Thesis 6. Deep digitality is from the multiplexing of the subject.
Thesis 7. The one is imaginable only through the waning of being.
Thesis 8. Philosophy is rooted in grand illusion.
Thesis 9. Philosophy is a digitisation of the real: the one dividing in two.
Thesis 10. Immanence is always the greatest heresy.

If you’re interested in thinking about the nature of what is digital and how we might contextualise that within broader theories of thought, materiality and so on its well worth spending the time watching Galloway’s talk:

Galloway: 10 Theses On The Digital from bkm on Vimeo.

Translation> Bernard Stiegler on holidays and the need to ‘deprogram’

Following on from the interview with the philosopher Bernard Stiegler about what he perceives to be the coming end of salaried employment, I spent some of the early hours of this morning (more baby-induced sleeplessness) reading and then translating a short interview with Stiegler about holidays and the need to deprogram. The interview appears on the website for Philosophie magazine.

In the interview, Stiegler argues (as he has elsewhere) that we are increasingly under pressure to ‘synchronise’ – to conform to particular patterns of thought and behaviour—especially consumerism – in the ongoing struggle of capitalism to find ever-more profit. This synchronisation, he says, is led by the ‘programme industries’ – mass media and so on – that want us to mindlessly submit to consumerism and commodification (through systems like Facebook). What is engendered is a form of ‘programming’, as an exercise of ‘psychopower’, which is something like the forms of ‘control’ envisaged by Deleuze (and drawn upon by Stiegler previously).

Stiegler’s answer to this is to identify the need to ‘deprogram’, using techniques of the self (following Foucault). He goes on to provide an example of what he does on holiday—which sounds suspiciously like work to me, but then its all about the otium, the pursuit of knowledge while free from the pressures of subsistence.

This is a fairly quick translation, so please read it as such. As usual clarifications and original French terms are in square brackets. All emphasis follows the original text.

Bernard Stiegler: “On holiday we attempt to rediscover the consistence in our existence”

The question of time extends throughout his body of work. Through book after book, this philosopher sketches a picture of a society under the growing infleunce of the programme industries. The final stage of capitalism is the control and snychronisation of “available brain time”. This process in which the individual is standardised may cause a depression and violence without precedent. But philosophy can help to establish responses.


PM. What are the characteristic traits of time today?

B.S. Our era is characterised by synchronisation. The programme industries are attempting to synchronise all of our consciousnesses; a control over the life of the soul through television which establishes a pyschopower characteristic of our times. This process of synchronisation has its roots in the late 18th century, with the mechanical reproduction of the workers’ gestures through automation, in the service of what Michel Foucault described as biopower. Spread by the grand industrial revolution of the 19th century, synchronisation led to what Karl Marx describes as proletarianisation, the worker becomes proletarian. If a worker contributes to the creation of new forms of production, industrialisation makes work a form of slavery and establishes, instead, what Gilbert Simondon calls a loss of individuation for the worker. The movement that is individuation is no longer in the worker, Simondon says, but in the machine that replaces him as a “technical individual“. Wherever you go now, you have the same models of production and distribution. This globalisation comes at the price of a synchronisation of modes of life and thought. Today, this becoming is extended throughout all aspects of life and destroys the singularity of existence through consumerism, which liquidates life skills [savoir-vivre]. Within a decade, with a catastrophic evolution of television, the symbolic itself became an object of consumption and became un-symbolic: we no longer participate in the diachronisation of languages; we parrot Newspeak. The programme industries proletarianised symbolic production, and they destroyed singular and collective time.

PM. In this context, are holidays still possible?

BS. The latin term otium is often translated as “leisure”, it is what the Greeks called skholè, from which we get the work skoleion, which becomes “school”. School is for those who have been released from the obligation of providing for themselves and who can spend free time, without which no real expertise [connaissance véritable] is possible. Otium in Latin and skholè in Greek describe free-time for contemplation, through which we learn to live through a desire for truth: the possibility of reaching a time that is not given to subsistence (the time of slaves and proletarians), but which also is not given to existence (the time of the agora, of political debate). However, to establish lives [des existences], we must reach for what exceeds them and what I live to call consistencies [les consistances] — which the Greeks called idealities.

In this context, holidays must become an otium for the people. During a holiday, and holidays are a special case, we primarily try to deprogram — and to rediscover the consistency in our existence [la consistance dans son existence], for example through a change of scenery. However, human life is always programmed [programmée]. There are cosmic programmes, vital programmes, and socio-ethnic and symbolic programmes. These programmes are a condition of the social. But, these programmes can and should be reprogrammed, or suspended. Trigano, Disney and others have understood that this is a huge market, it is accordingly becoming more and more difficult to deprogram.

PM. How do you deprogram yourself?

BS. To deprogram oneself necessitates keeping to very specific schedules, which are what Foucault, once again, described as techniques of the self, echoing Seneca. Holidays are a moment to practice such programmes. Myself, I use relaxation as a form of deprogramming. When I go on holiday, I work early and write all morning. Then, I swim, a lot, until that state when physical exertion stimulates a rush—because the brain produces a lot of endorphins. Swimming thus becomes a journey within oneself, during the course of which I run back through my memory of everything I wrote several hours earlier. Then I lie in the sun, drained, and I let my mind empty, since this is how unlikely thoughts can arise: a programming emerges from all of this. Then I return to writing: I note all that has arisen — first in the water, then in the sun — all through rereading and annotating what I wrote in the morning.

Under the sun, I sense that this mass of hydrogen that has been combusting for several billion years is a cosmic programme that intervenes in my physiological programmes — muscles, brain, various organs — and which, in this intervention, produces a difference, a change of programme which allows me to write another kind of programme: a book in which I comment generally on other books.

Books, when they are good, are thus deprogramming programmes, unlikely programmes, like poems, in which there must be, wrote Paul Claudel, “a number that prevents counting”.

Interview by Michel Eltchaninoff

SK—The sense in which ‘programme’ is used here plays on the double meaning of scheduling (of time, performance etc.) and codified instructions (for computers), but both have a sense of the rendering discrete the phenomena being programmed.


Translation> “Bernard Stiegler: ‘Salaried employment will become uncommon'”

Bernard Stiegler has been very active over the last year and there are a number of interviews in the French press and on francophone websites with him on a range of issues, especially the future of work and of the economy and the (continuing) rise of the far-right (particularly the Front National in France).

With a bit of infant-and-weather-induced sleeplessness I busied myself with a quick translation of one of the recent and quite interesting interviews, undertaken at the OuiShare festival (deliberate pun), with a theme of ‘age of communities‘ which aims to provoke discussion about the ‘collaborative economy’ (lots of peer-to-peer and suchlike).

There’s some familiar themes in relation to contribution, but also some more direct criticism of contemporary political policy — not least directed at Arnaud Montebourg, the French ‘Minister for the Economy, Economic Renewal and the Digital‘. The interview can probably  be read in tandem with an earlier interview (I’ve translated) for Rue89 that advances Stiegler’s argument for an ‘economy of contribution‘.

In these brief interviews there is a danger that Stiegler can be read as having an argument that is too ‘meta’, over-arching and so potentially glib, but if we turn to his more considered writings (books and so on) and the activities of IRI I think we can see the substance.

As usual clarifications or questions over the translation of a particular word are in square brackets and all emphasis is in the original text.

Bernard Stiegler: “Salaried employment will become uncommon”

While digital technologies demolish the paradigms of the 20th century, philosopher Bernard Stiegler calls for a push towards an economic model founded on voluntary contribution and co-creation.

Interview conducted at OuiShare Fest, a festival for the collaborative economy, Paris, 5-7 May 2014.

Do politicians understand the impact of the digital on our economies?

Absolutely not. They think in terms of the software of the 1950s. I recently attended a brilliant presentation by an industrial foresight specialist for ARCEP (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes [The Postal and Electronic Communications Regulation Authority]). He demonstrated how the American car is bouncing back because manufacturers understand that the car of tomorrow is a connected car. In the Gallois report[1] on French competitiveness, commissioned by the President of the Republic 18 months ago, there is not a word on such issues!

You regularly call the digital an industry. So, do you share the opinion of Arnaud Montebourg?

Montebourg is smart but he is too much of a butterfly. He must temper his ambitions and take an interest in the major project of the publishing industry becoming digital. One must understand that what is happening at Libération [2] will extend across all of the cultural industries. There is an urgent need to reinvent the publishing industry through what Ars Industrialis calls an “industrial politics for technologies of spirit”, in the context of the convergence of the audiovisual broadcasting, telecommunications and information technology – but also and above all the industries of text, notably scientific texts, which is a strategic sector for France and for Europe.

Furthermore, Arnaud Montebourg has begun a strategy of roboticisation that we must situate in the context of widespread automation that will lead to the liquidation of the Keynesian model, i.e. the end of “growth” conceived as the base for the redistribution of spending power via earnings and employment.

It is useless to cling to these old models.

The salary model as we know it today and which has been defended by the trade unions is that of Keynes and Ford. A rational model that says for the economy to work, we must redistribute some of wealth made by gains in productivity through technology through salaries, creating purchasing power. It is through this paradigm that the welfare state and its corollary of an economic policy of growth appeared, with its economic indicators such as the famous GDP. This model began to crumble with the first oil crisis and finally cracked in 2008. But it did not die because it has been drip-fed by states which offset insolvency, resulting in the austerity measures we have today which are totally unproductive. But it is dying – and us with it.


As Bill Gates said: employment is over. Robots replace people [3]. In such a context, Francois Hollande obviously cannot “reverse the unemployment trend” — other than by expedient measures that do not last. Amazon is trying to replace employees with robots and Foxconn has announced the same intention. The price fo robots will drop, through the effect of economies of scale, and SMEs, for which they were too expensive, will gain access to them and, in addition to which, international competition will push adoption. This is a new industrial era that is beginning, and which shall not be based on employment.

What new model can emerge?

Salaried employment will become uncommon. Following this we must consider a new model for distribution. A contributory model of distribution, based not on work-time but on the model of the “intermittents du spectacle” [casual/part-time workers in the creative industries]. There should be the possiblity of regularly investing into contributive projects, which may be mercantile or may not. Projects of general interest would be funded by public authorities. A business would be a particular case amongst many other models.

Doesn’t the collaborative economy sketch the contours of this new mode of organising work?

Alongside the old world alternatives are emerging. The collaborative economy could be one, provided it is not recuperated by consumerism thus becoming an improved margin. The collaborative economy may also be a way to displace some of the work to the consumer. All of which merits further analysis on a case by case basis.

With what criteria?

In fact, the collaborative economy as such interests me only insofar as it allows us to think about the economy of contribution discussed earlier. Yet there is also a toxic form of the collaborative economy, which is that of Facebook. An economy in which the value of a company resides in the content users provide. Algorithms allow this to be exploited through surgical marketing which specifically trace and track products and people. This falls back into consumerism. A stupefaction [l’abrutissement].

How can we conceptualise a positive contributive economy?

There is an alternative contributive economy arrayed through free or open source software. This has developed a form of industrial activity that relies upon communities for the free development of knowledge. This is what, in the 1980s, we called concurrent engineering, but the web allows us to think at a greater scale. This is a “deproletarianisation” in the sense in which Marx intended “proletarianisation” to mean a loss of knowledge, induced by the arrival of machines.

Stupefaction [Abrutissement] on one hand and learning [apprentissage] on the other…

Exactly. All technology has, equally, curative and toxic potentials. There is both a generative web and a mimetic one, which destroys the know-how [savoir-faire] of those who use it. This crisis is related to the automation which arose with algorithmically-controlled high-frequency trading. Following the 2008 crash, Alan Greenspan, then Chairman of the United States’ Federal Reserve, admitted to having been wrong to have left the economy of his country to be organised by machines. Actors like Google, for their part, impoverish language by operating a website that over-represents the words of interest to them. What results is a semantic standardisation constituted by the auctioning of [particular] words to become ‘Adwords’. We now have, following the hypertextual web of 1993 and the ‘web 2.0′ of the 2000s, a third age of the web.

What will this new era of the web look like?

The basis of Western society has been to undertake what Heraclitus called Polemos [struggle/war]: confrontation and debate. I call for a new “hermeneutic web” which will facilitate exactly such forms of engagement between people who do not share the same views on political and environmental issues to enable them to work together. This was the first purpose of the web: to enable exchange and discussion between universities. At IRI, we are currently working on “Twitter Polemique” [Polemic Tweet], through which it is possible to associate a tenor/sense with a tweet: agree, disagree, querying, neutral. More genenerally, we need to develop a graphical language for annotation and an sharing of such annotation to stimulate collective debate.

Who should do this?

At the Chaos Computer Club in Hamburg, Glen Greenwald, the journalist who published the Snowden revelations, told the participants: “the future of combatting the NSA is in your hands”. He was both right and wrong. For a start, the problem is not solely the NSA: it is also the hyper-consumerist exploitation of data. I do not believe that the future of the web will solely be in the hands of activists, of states, or even of intellectuals like me. We must get everyone around the table. We will need hackers for their technical knowledge, political activists who believe in the public good — which still exists, manufacturers who are amongst the most lucid on these issues, universities, and Europe.

Interview by Côme Bastin.

1. The former boss of aerospace group EADS, Louis Gallois, was asked by President Holllande to investigate what was holding back French productivity, which resulted in a report, by Gallois, calling for a slashing of employment costs, see this 2012 BBC News article: ‘IMF and Gallois report urge France to cut labour costs’.

2. Due to plummeting circulation figures the management of the newspaper have recast the newspaper’s website as a kind of social network and former Libération journalists are responsible for the creation of the Rue89 news website, which has incidentally carried a few interviews with Stiegler.

3. For example, see the Business Insider article ‘Bill Gates: People Don’t Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots‘, quoting from the 2014 conversation with Bill Gates at the American Enterprise Institute: From poverty to prosperity: A conversation with Bill Gates [approx 46-minutes in]. Quote: ‘Capitalism, in general, will over time create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of the skill set. … Twenty years from now labour demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower and i don’t think people have that in their mental model’.

Reblog> ERC Video for the Programmable City Project

Nice video offering an overview of the Programmable City project (funded by the European Research Council):

This video introduces the Programmable City. In the video Rob Kitchin outlines the aims and objectives of the project and highlights the importance of the support received from the European Research Council (ERC). Each researcher on the Programmable City team also briefly discusses their work. The video was made by the Programmable City team in order to promote the project and the ERC.