Thursday, February 01, 2018

University interdisciplinarity: misplaced idealism...or oldish cynic?

I found myself thinking this enthusiastic article was a repeat of many that have gone before it - without ever fundamentally challenging the University status quo in terms of structures and processes.

But perhaps my cynicism flourishes too much!

'How the Internet controls you'

John Naughton has written an insightful systemic account of the the internet world we inhabit and co-create with the five largest companies on Earth.  Here is a taste from his Prospect article:

"The wags who spoke of early smartphones as “Crack-Berry” (a play on BlackBerry, one early model) were not wrong; they are engines for dopamine release. In January, two major Apple shareholders urged the company to address the potential harms caused by its products. They advised the firm to increase the parental controls on its devices and research the mental health effects of excessive use of smartphones. The shareholders, with a combined holding of $2bn, wrote: “There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences.” A few days later, Roger McNamee, a large and early investor in Facebook, went public with very similar arguments. Indeed, the whole tendency for smartphones and social media apps is to “privilege our impulses over our intentions,” in the words of Oxford computer scientist James Williams. As a result, in Williams’s view,  social media is a threat to liberal democracy, a system that must always rely on the ordinary citizen’s capacity for deliberation."