Like so many other households, mine is doing its best to maintain some sort of order under the current conditions, organizing around the new abnormal of the COVID-19 pandemic as best we can. However, as we enter yet another month of semi-lockdown (this was written in a Copenhagen flat at the end of January 2021) entropy looms large. Routines that used to go unquestioned can now become the main task – and sometimes the highlight – of the day: do I need to shower? Should we prepare a home-cooked dinner?
In December 2019 the internet giant Amazon got into a spot of bother when it was found to be selling T-shirts depicting a body plummeting from a helicopter beneath the caption, Wanna take a ride? (Goñi, 2019). The reference here was to the ‘death flights’ of Pinochet’s military dictatorship, which involved throwing left wing opponents of the regime from helicopters in lakes or the sea in an attempt to hide their murders.
You should be writing, as the joke goes. When we come across this joke, our minds immediately jump to our texts, very much in the plural. Texts in progress, texts not materialized yet, texts in limbo, overdue texts, texts we wish we had time to nurture, texts we dread, texts we wish we had not committed on delivering during the summer. For some, this joke echoes vague or poignant feelings of guilt, arouses various anxieties, small and big, or simply makes them laugh in recognition. But for me, this joke is a lasso.
Ranking search results, filtering spam e-mails, recommending movies and books, evaluating credit card fraud, diagnosing malignant cells in cancer research, selecting job applicants – more and more tasks are being carried out by new media technologies such as machine learning algorithms. Their logic does not only simplify our daily approach to large masses of information but also applies at a higher level in the observation and regulation of population flows.
In an increasingly vibrant research landscape, where practice studies has become a well-established stream of research in management and organization (Nicolini, 2012; Nicolini and Monteiro, 2017), it is no surprise to see a second edition of this influential book. Considering the significance of Gherardi’s contribution, I focus primarily on the similarities and differences between the first and second editions, showing how the latter offers a view of the state of the art of Practice Approach within the recent debate in social studies.
Anonymity is a crucial issue in debates concerning technology, politics, and data justice. A new anthology offers fundamental insights into what anonymity is and why it matters. The book of anonymity focuses on the possibilities connected to and created by anonymity, how it is produced, its outcomes, and its potentials. The book looks at anonymity as a ‘mode of being and knowing’ , moving beyond a purely technical definition.
Shiny new archives? On the politics, history, and ethics of archives under the condition of big data
With some vigour, American artist and information studies scholar Johanna Drucker clarifies: ‘the notion of data as “given” and thus self-evident is patently false – all data are constructed’ [Visualization, 563]. Since data are not just given, the questions then are who produces data, who decides what data are stored, maintained, and deleted, who profits and who is discriminated in and through data sets? The glossary Uncertain archives: Critical keywords for big data (2021) sets out to tackle these questions.
I would first like to thank Enrico Beltramini and the editors of ephemera for giving me the opportunity to respond to the review, which I found to be a very thoughtful and balanced piece. The review raises a number of substantial issues. Most importantly, it laments a supposed absence of meta-theoretical reflection in the Handbook. My concern is that the review’s call for meta-theory is in fact not much more than an insistence on the academic and intellectual primacy of theology over what Beltramini calls the ‘secular disciplines’ of the social sciences.
Almost twenty years ago, Stephen Long published Divine economy: Theology and market (2000), a book in which he attempted to engage economics from a theological standpoint. The project was complicated by a fact — Long noted in his introduction—that theologians and economists operate on completely different assumptions: economists base their work on the fact-value distinction; theologians do not (Long 2000: 3). And that is not all.
Giorgio Agamben is a household name in management theory (Ek et al., 2007; Banerjee, 2008; Cunha et al., 2010; O’Doherty et al., 2013; Beltramini, 2020). Agamben’s (2011) recent book, The kingdom and the glory (henceforth The kingdom), has received praise and criticism from management theorists, yet its impact cannot be underestimated. Agamben's theoretical work has broad historical philosophical ambitions, is unapologetically controversial, and attempts to diagnose and show the origins of the malaise that is affecting liberal democracies today.