Sociology of Information Nuggets

Elections and a three course semester have crowded out blogging over last few months.  And so, the blogger’s cop out of pointers to some recent interesting reads:

Maya Alexandri has a fun post, “What Thomas Cromwell had in common with the Dewey decimal system” calling attention the theme of information revolutions as noted in the Joan Acocella review of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall in The New Yorker.  Alexandri and Acocella note interesting similarity of Cromwell’s time and our own as eras in which “information is being radically reorganized.”  It’s precisely the desire to clarify such recapitulations that drives my own work on the sociology of information.

Semil Shah offers a  panegyric post about Timehop, an app that automatically sends you a photo of what you were doing a year ago today.  It purports, among other things, to be a “solution” to the problem of having boxes of memories that you either never find the time to look at or into which you unintentionally dump hour or hour of time you don’t have.  Shah’s optimistic take is

The carousel of old slides, the cigar box of warped pictures, and the Instagrams you’ve taken, now in your pocket, delivered to you in just the right way.

There are some great research questions swirling around issues like personal memory, artifacts, the externalization and automation of recall, search as every-ready reconstruction of the past.  Stay tuned.

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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