Anthropology in the digital worlds

Y for Yenndetta

A few months ago, BBC did a news series on AI and robotics. Part of the series was a list of jobs ranked according to their ‘automation risks’, on the basis of a paper by two Oxford researchers titled The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to automation. Social and humanities scientists (ranked 279th of 366) and higher education teaching professionals (327th of 366), the jobs to which I related most closely among others on the list, were both in the ‘quite unlikely’ category with a very small risk of being replaced by robots (10% and 3% respectively). Er … a sigh of relief?

In this context, I would imagine that anthropology would be one of the last disciplines to be affected by technology. I believe I am not the only one with such a perception, and I suspect the perception has something to do with the…

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Pokemon, Privilege, and Other People’s Problems

Visible Futures

if you’re on social media (of course you’re on social media) you have no doubt seen the convergence of the two streams of news the past 72 hours. One, of course, is the week’s long plunge back into the national debate on police violence, Black Lives Matter, and America’s love/hate relationship with violence. The other is Pokemon Go, the mobile game being heralded as a game changer and as the best game ever (one hopes by people who have limited experience with games).

The coming together of these two is not of the peanut butter and chocolate variety, but rather more like toothpaste and pickle juice in that I’ve noticed it leaves a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouths. Specifically there are numerous posts floating around to the effect of  (paraphrasing here since I don’t want to call anyone in particular out) « Pokemon Go is awesome and it’s…

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What is Web Science?

Ramblings of a Web Scientist

The World Wide Web has changed the course of human history forever, the Web has empowered individuals, invigorated collaboration and unleashed social creativity. To understand what Web Science is, we need a retrospective glance at how Web Science came to be a recognised interdisciplinary field, covering one of the most important ongoing inventions of the last 25 years.

Back in 2006, a call to arms for a new discipline was offered in the form of an online 130-page monograph by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and collaborators. In this, Web Science is introduced and described as the science of decentralised information systems which needs to be studied, understood, and also need to be engineered. Berners-Lee called for a new approach of analysing the Web through the collaboration of researchers from fields such as mathematics, physics, biology and economics with engineers and computer scientists; with the hope of enriching our understanding of…

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Cybernetics: the vital notions of entropy and information (I)

My STS Sketchbook

In 1948 Norbert Wiener published his book « Cybernetics or Control and Communication in animals and machines, » a treatise in which he postulated the creation of science Cybernetics. On the basis of Gibbs’ statistical mechanics, to which he attributes the revolution over Newtonian physics long before Einstein and quantum mechanics, Wiener compares the performance of self-regulating machines to that of living beings through the fundamental notions of information, feedback, homeostasis and freuquency correlation (or resonance), among others. Many of his results arise from the application of his knowledge of electrical circuits to the animal nervous system, others from the understanding of organic processes as schemes of self-regulation, translatable to automata. A number of technical challenges and the subsequent proposal of a new agenda of scientific problems were made possible through intensive collaboration between Wiener and experts from many different fields (biologists, engineers, computer scientists, anthropologists …), whose landmark were the conferences…

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« Fifty shades of green »: Bruno Latour on the ecomodernist manifesto

ENTITLE blog - a collaborative writing project on Political Ecology

by Bruno Latour*

Presentation to the panel on modernism at the Breakthrough Dialogue, Sausalito, June 2015

Wake up you ecomoderns, we are in the Anthropocene, not in the Holocene, nor are we to ever reside in the enchanted dream of futurism. Down to earth is the message I hear, but unfortunately not in the ecomodernist manifesto.

There is one thing more difficult than to tell good from evil, it is to decide which time we are in, which epoch, and which land we have our feet on. I was reminded of that difficulty Saturday at the border when the police officer, after having asked me what research I was doing, and on learning that I work on environment with a special interest in the drought, retorted:  “Drought, which drought? Have you not read the Bible, it is all there, 7 years dry, 7 years wet. I have been in California for forty years, it’s always like this, it never fails…

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Identity and The Need to be Needed

Finding Purpose

The need to be needed is one of our fundamental desires. We want to feel significant in the eyes of others, even if it is only one other person. We want to feel like we play an important role, whether in an organization, family, or life of another. The need to be needed is rooted in our need for a sense of contribution to something beyond ourselves. When this need is unfulfilled in the case of job loss, divorce, or life-transitions, we may find ourselves beginning to doubt our sense of contribution that gives us a sense of purpose and direction. It is the ability to feel needed through our specific method of contribution that gives us our sense of identity.

As described in my last post, an identity crisis can result from a lack of identity when role confusion occurs, as discussed by Erik Erikson. Building on Erikson’s conception…

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Par amour pour Bruxelles


Ce mardi 22 mars, on nous a enlevé des vies. Des navetteurs et voyageurs, des amis et proches, des frères et soeurs font maintenant la pluie et le beau temps, là haut. On nous a frappé en plein coeur en ciblant deux des plus fabuleuses infrastructures de transport que l’Homme ait inventé.

L’aéroport et ses petits et gros oiseaux nous emmènent partout. C’est l’endroit où l’humanité entière se croise. C’est un outil formidable pour nos relations internationales diplomatiques, économiques, culturelles. C’est là où nos vacances commencent. C’est le lieu des au revoir, des retrouvailles, des rires et des larmes.

Le métro, une ville dans la ville. Une vie souterraine qui ne s’arrête que quelques heures par nuit. C’est la liberté, les déplacements faciles et rapides du nord au sud et d’est en ouest, toute la ville s’y croise. C’est là que commencent et se finissent les sorties entre amis. Là que des regards se…

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