In a blog post on Medium Lee Vinsek writes about journalist and academics uncritically using and reproducing the claims of technologies. He further believes that this focus distracts from more current issues with at more mundane technologies such as their maintenance and repair:

But it’s not just uncritical journalists and fringe writers who hype technologies in order to criticize them. Academic researchers have gotten in on the game. At least since the 1990s, university researchers have done work on the social, political, and moral aspects of wave after wave of “emerging technologies” and received significant grants from public and private bodies to do so. As I’ll detail below, many (though certainly not all) of these researchers reproduced and even increased hype, the most dramatic promotional claims of future change put forward by industry executives, scientists, and engineers working on these technologies. Again, at the worst, what these researchers do is take the sensational claims of boosters and entrepreneurs, flip them, and start talking about “risks.” They become the professional concern trolls of technoculture.

Very interesting keynote by Tommaso Venturini at the iNovaMediaLab titled “What do we See when We look at Networks.” In his talk he remarks how networks have become the metaphor of connected complexity and explains how they should be a tool to make sense of this complexity.

In an interview with Bruno Latour by Nikolaj Schultz, Bruno Latour discusses why critical zone scientists have a different epistemology compared to other scientists:

Epistemologically, they are far from the other sciences that I have been following for many years. And since they underline the discrepancies between their observations and the chemical reactions, it means that they are redescribing and rematerializing the question of territory, which we simultaneously try to redescribe and rematerialize in political and social theory. This is also where there is a link between Lovelock’s discovery, the political question of geosocial classes and critical zones.

Read the full interview here.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic I have spent most I my time at home, working and away from friends and family. I therefore have had to significantly make use of video chat for work meetings and meeting loved ones. In an article on Vox, Adam Clark Estes writes about the history of this technology and how these changes are shaping our lives and the technology itself:

(…) hosting a party with a video chat component certainly sounds less weird today than it would have six months ago. If it was already evident that videoconferencing had become a mainstay of many offices, that it could be a prominent part of our social lives is a new idea to me. That explains my initial surprise when the folks from Microsoft Teams started telling me how their workplace software had taken on new roles, like social networking, in many users’ lives. In other words, the pandemic has fundamentally changed our relationship with these tools and with digital spaces generally.

The article further delves in the changes made to the technology to make more pleasant to use. Read the full article here.

Bruno Latour has written an article (first published in La Monde) which asks if the coronavirus could serve as a dress rehearsal for the crisis of climate change

It is as though the intervention of the virus could serve as a dress rehearsal for the next crisis, the one in which the reorientation of living conditions is going to be posed as a challenge to all of us, as will all the details of daily existence that we will have to learn to sort out carefully. I am advancing the hypothesis, as have many others, that the health crisis prepares, induces, incites us to prepare for climate change. This hypothesis still needs to be tested.

Read the full article, “Is This a Dress Rehearsal?”

This is an interesting piece of news the The New York Times: “Burning Cell Towers, Out of Baseless Fear They Spread the Virus”. On the one hand, there indeed seemd to be a problem with disinformation about 5G as origin of the novel corona virus.

But then again, it seems remarkable again that the events described in the article are being pushed aside as groundless fear of luddites. While it seems to me that this is yet another example of technology that is pushed through without much input and that not many people are waiting for.

Instead of scoffing away these people it could taken seriously as real (physical) issue with disputes. And seems to me a good example where publics in the sense John Dewey can arise, as this technology has different meanings for different people.

In de volgende video deelt filosofe Eva Meijer haar ideeën over de coronavirus pandemie.

The Nation published a great interview with Sheila Jasanoff by Nawal Arjini. Interetsing topics include the spread of information about the virus, the use of visualization for conveying statistical information, and the role/importance of social sciences in these times.

Een interessant essay van Eva Meijer, postdoctoraal onderzoeker aan de Universiteit Wageningen over de huidige coronavirus pandemie. In haar eesay schrijft ze over hoe deze biologische processen verworven zijn met hoe we sociaal en politiek om gaan met dit virus.

Om te begrijpen dat we als mensen deel uitmaken van allerlei voorspelbare en onvoorspelbare processen in plaats van daarover te kunnen heersen, om voorzichtiger om te gaan met die kwetsbare sterke planeet waar we allemaal door een wonderbaarlijk toeval op terecht gekomen zijn, om nieuwe vormen van samenleven te ontwikkelen en nieuwe vormen van kennis, die niet het nut van de grote bedrijven dienen, maar dat van de regenwormen, de kunst, de Noordzee, en de mensen.

Het volledige essay hier.

An anthropology perspective on the spread of Covid-19 virus in Hong Kong:

Tracing the spread of the Covid-19 virus requires following many kinds of transmissions and contagions, from infectious numbers to populist mobilizations, viral rumors to affective atmospheres. These forces course along multiple material-semiotic networks at different speeds and intensities, unsettling and transforming the city as they circulate. And yet, as literary scholar Priscilla Wald (2008) has shown, such complexities are often distilled and fixed into a familiar narrative of outbreak–spread–containment. Ethnographic, interdisciplinary, and publicly-engaged scholarship all have a crucial role to play in complicating such reductive narratives and bringing other stories to light. As the everyday experiences of Hongkongers reveals, the form and significance of this epidemic is still anything but settled. The virulent transmissions of Covid-19 may yet remake this city—and the world—in profound and unforeseeable ways.

Read the full article here.