data

Digital powers: Surveillance and economic logics in a datafied world

Some scholars churn out paper after paper with small arguments and thinly sliced contributions, and may compile them into books that connect the dots and offer broader perspectives. Others leave fewer, but much bigger footprints. Shoshana Zuboff, professor emerita at Harvard Business School, certainly falls in the second category. Her first book, In the age of the smart machine: The future of work and power (Zuboff, 1985), remains a pillar in fields of research focusing on digital technologies, information systems, organization and management, and knowledge production.

Weird science and datafication

In August 1910, the American philosopher and psychologist William James was lying on his deathbed in Chocorua, New Hampshire. Just before he died, he told his brother, the great novelist Henry James, to stay near his burial site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for six weeks after his passing. William wanted his brother to stay close to his resting ground and not travel back to England immediately after the funeral because he wanted to initiate contact with him from beyond the grave (Menand, 2001: 435).

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