In this post I want to pose and answer two questions: are surveillance capitalists behaviorists? And does it matter? Short answer: surveillance capitalists are not behaviorists, but behavioralists. Behavioralists are okay with guiding individual level behavior as long as it leads to higher-order system behavior that they think is useful; in other words, they have a different theory of freedom than behaviorists. Painting Silicon Valley engineers as behaviorists is no doubt politically useful (on which more below) but will it be persuasive when push comes to shove in the battle to regulate the digital economy? I try to untangle some of these contradictions below.
[Note: This is a lightly edited re-post of a blog-post originally published on Work in Progress, a public sociology blog created by the American Sociological Association to disseminate research results. It summarizes findings from “Engineering a platform: The construction of interfaces, users, organizational roles, and the division of labor” in New Media and Society, first published online in […]
A few days ago, I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee, opened up my laptop, started up the Tor Browser, and read the New York Times. But I didn’t type in https://www.nytimes.com into the Tor Browser. I instead typed https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion/ [warning: that’s an onion link]. That 16 character alphanumeric address took me to the […]
This is cross-posted from the HIIG Science Blog, and is part of a series on metaphors and digital society hosted by Christian Katzenbach and Stefan Larsson. I recommend the other essays as well: Nik John on sharing, Noam Tirosh on revolution, and Christian Djeffal on artificial intelligence. Sometimes a metaphor settles into everyday use so comfortably, […]
It’s perhaps not surprising that the manifesto published by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday promotes “global community.” The idea that a social media platform like Facebook primarily serves as a community space is consistent with the site’s branding according to techno-utopian versions of a networked society. It also supports the way that Facebook’s […]