Great day today with the Processing Citizenship team and Professor Kalpana Shankar where we discussed connections with her work on social science data archives and data curation practices. Afterwards she also gave a colloquium at our UTwente STePS department on “Data Work as Organizational Work: The Sustainability of Social Science Data Archives”.

Some nice recent articles from Courier International:

I’m always interested to learn about influences on culture and traditions that are otherwise taken for granted, or are considered “natural”. So I’m pleased to find out via Wikipedia about “The Pizza Effect” as one perspecive on such a phenomena:

”(…) phenomenon of elements of a nation or people’s culture being transformed or at least more fully embraced elsewhere, then re-imported back to their culture of origin, or the way in which a community’s self-understanding is influenced by (or imposed by, or imported from) foreign sources. It is named after the idea that modern pizza toppings were developed among Italian immigrants in the United States (rather than in native Italy, where in its simpler form it was originally looked down upon), and was later exported back to Italy to be interpreted as a delicacy in Italian cuisine.”

Listening to a podcast from the BBC program In Our Time about Henri Bergon’s ideas on time. Some ideas I found noteworthy:

The Hyphen Labs collective is making brilliant projects at the intersection of technology, art, science, and the future. Check out there work here

Looking at a keynote presentation of Lisa Nakamura at the transmediale 2018 “Call Out, Protest, Speak Back”. She focuses on the importance of critical race and feminist theory for understanding contemporary culture of digital technologies. Interesting use of Audrey Lorde’s quote that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” and how we can’t fix technology with more technology.

Fascinating video on the daily background maintenance and repair that is required to keep the city of Venice “working”. Check out the website of the project Venice Backstage as well.

In South-Africa there has been severe water shortages due to a long drought and bad water management. The following short video gives us a glimpse of the terrible consequences such as police cracking down prohibited water use, such as someone trying to earn some living washing cars.

The shortage has left residents fearing what’s been coined ‘Day Zero’: the moment when the city turns off the taps, and residents are forced to line up for water rations under the watchful eye of armed officials. And as this unsettling short documentary shows, the consequences of the crisis are already severe, with police cracking down on what’s considered unnecessary water use. The increasingly desperate situation has escalated tensions in a region already divided between haves and have-nots, frequently along racial lines

Two important news updates via Tv5Monde’s 7 jours sur la planète emission of 30 March 2019:

In France there has been a change in gender marking in job titles. A large part of previously traditional masculin job titles did not have a feminine form. Via 7 jours sur la planète.

Check out Ian Fischer’s beautiful oil paintings of clouds, via

Mooie inaugerele rede1 van Prof. Annemarie Mol over “Wat is Kiezen?” waarin ze in een empirisch filosofische manier niet vraagt naar “wat kiezen in wezen is, maar wat het is in enkele van zijn talrijke, gevarieerde verschijningsvormen”. Haar nadruk ligt ook dat technische artefacten nieuwe keuzemogelijkheden schept en verborgen keuzes kunnen bevatten:

Als iemand zich bijvoorbeeld in een situatie bevindt waarin ze individueel moet kiezen voor of tegen deze of gene medische ingreep, dan is het ook goed dat zij zo nauwkeurig mogelijk geïnformeerd wordt. Dat is geen kwestie van persoonlijke smaak en het is evenmin een universele waarde. Deze moraliteit is in de betreffende situatie ingebakken. Hij zit eraan vast, net zoals er aan kiezen een autonoom subject vastzit, en een rekensysteem, en een gestold object van keuze.

  1. Mol, A. (1997). Wat is Kiezen?: een empirisch-filosofische verkenning. Enschede. Retrieved from [return]

Have been getting into the ideas of critical theory with some great podcasts and videos. Stephen West from Philosophize This did an extensive 7 part series on The Frankfurt School, with a large focus on Herbert Marcuse. I especially liked his introductions of Marcuse’s works and the parts on culture industry. I also watched this interview Bryan Magee did with Marcuse in 1977 for his BBC program. In the interview Marcuse gives an overview of the thoughts of the members of the school and his involvement with the New Left movement. The whole discussion with Magee is great as can be expected from him and who also very critical. And lastly I listened to an episode of The Philosophers Zone titled “Are we enlightened?” that came out today by chance. In the short timespan of thirty minutes the podcast provides a fanstatic overview of critical theory and, as the title suggests, focuses on the theory’s roots against enlightement style thinking.

In an article from 1976 I came accross in the book the Social Shaping of Technology1, Ruth Schwartz Cowan looks at the introduction of technological appliances in the home and their effects on home work. Her analysis shows that the “industrialization of the home” was very different process from what we might suspect: that it would descrease the amount of work needed to be done by housewives. Rather the technologies seems to have shifted the work and contributed to changes in aspects of the work (such as the emotional aspects).

The standard sociological model for the impact of modern technology on family life clearly needs some revision: at least for middle-class nonrural American families in the 20th century, the social changes were not the ones that the standard model predicts. In these families the functions of at least one member, the housewife, have increased rather than decreased; and the dissolution of family life has not in fact occurred.

  1. Cowan, R. S. (1976). The ‘Industrial Revolution’ in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century. Technology and Culture, 17(1), 1–23. [return]

Today Mark Zuckerberg accounced his new vision for Facebook as a more privacy-focused company. The principal change he thinks should be to have interoperable end-to-end encryption for all of Facebook’s apps. Although this would be an interesting improvement to protect the communication, the links with law enforcement are worrying. Who is deciding what patterns identify “bad actors”, and how are they not influenced by governments? It also a way for Facebook to seem like they deem it appropriate to decide who are “bad actors”, which is equally worrying in my opinion.

We have a responsibility to work with law enforcement and to help prevent these wherever we can. We are working to improve our ability to identify and stop bad actors across our apps by detecting patterns of activity or through other means, even when we can’t see the content of the messages, and we will continue to invest in this work.

Another piece from The Intercept reminds us that may be another form of coporate white-washing, and how they haven’t delivered on any other privacy improvement promises.

A recent article from Kudina and Verbeek1 explores a different strategy to deal with the ‘Collingride dilemma’, a double-bind problem which roughly states that the impacts of new technology cannot easily be anticipated until the technology is developed, but that it hard to change the technology then. While in earlier stages it is easy to change the technology, but then we don’t know yet what it’s impact will be. The authors focus on the ethical variant of this dilemma which states that our value frameworks to evalue the technologies also change because of the technology:

(…) when we develop technologies on the basis of specific value frameworks, we do not know their social implications yet, but once we know these implications, the technologies might have already changed the value frameworks to evaluate these implications (p. 293)

They claim that the technical mediation approach can help with this dilemma by studying at an earlier stage during the technological development how “normative frameworks develop in interaction with technologies“:

It makes visible that the values used to evaluate technologies are not independent from these technologies but rather are co-constituted by them. A better understanding of these dynamic human-value-technology entanglements can substantially contribute to a more responsible design and use of technologies.

  1. Kudina, O., & Verbeek, P.-P. (2019). Ethics from Within: Google Glass, the Collingridge Dilemma, and the Mediated Value of Privacy. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 44(2), 291–314. [return]

Fantastic podcast from France Culture’s “Les chemins de la philosophie”. Professor Patrick Wotling discusses on the podcast the philosophy of Nietzche and how forgetting can be a condition for the well functioning of social life:

Nietzsche nous apprend que l’oubli est positif, s’éduque, peut se contrôler et surtout qu’il est la condition qui rend possible énormément de choses, comme la vie sociale : le second traité de la “Généalogie de la morale” est fondé sur cette affaire de la tendance à l’oubli qui est une régulation fondamentale du vivant et la manière dont cette tendance à l’oubli peut être régulée, éduquée, contrecarrée, canalisée, représente pour Nietzsche le fondement même de la possibilité d’une vie communautaire. L’oubli est vraiment un processus positif si on le comprend bien.

Listen to the full podcast here.

I quite enjoyed this series from Gizmodo where reported Kashmir Hill tries to not use any of the five big tech companies. It’s especially revealing and perhaps lesser known how important they are on infrastructure of the internet. For example, Amazon hosts a large amount of websites, making it almost impossible to avoid Amazon completely.