Messy Human


Most professional websites don’t show what anthropologists like to call “messy humans”. This page leans into the messiness and the work in progress of my research, thinking, and writing. I use this page to keep a running list of what I am reading, listening to, and thinking about. The plan is to update it haphazardly, and share first drafts and half-baked thoughts.

I will expand beyond my stomping ground of tech cultures and policy to include other interests, including anthropology, history, economics, grant-making & philanthropy, parenting & children’s books, poetry & graphic novels. Like any good geriatric millennial, I do not own a TV, but I am a fan of podcasts and mailinglist and will include my favorites here (see below).

Thank you for making it to this page, and feel free to drop me a line if you have any recommendations, thoughts, comments, or concerns about being human or this messy page.


Tech Anthropology & STS

This section gives an overview of anthropological & other academic work that I am reading.

The Apple II Age: How the Computer Became Personal — Laine Nooney
It is a riveting academic book (yes, seems like a contradiction yet it is true) about the development of the software industry in the US told through the history of the Apple II PC. Nooney sets the example for recounting the history of this industry rooted in structural changes, rather than individual geniuses. A beautiful story of how the PC became personal through software, cannot recommend highly enough.

A Prehistory of the Cloud —Tung-Hui Hu
Hu tells a beautiful, sometimes meandering, prescient story about the cloud. In it, he demonstrates how the cloud is both physical infrastructure and cultural, a metaphor (or even a cultural phantasy) for modern computing. In the process, his work also questions the efficacy of hacktivists and OSINT, by asking whether such tactics (often underpinned by cloud computing) can resist power, or just recreate it.

Countering the Cloud —Luke Munn
Media theorist takes on cloud computing by way of datacenters, to look at what the materiality of clouds know. Interesting book, I learned a lot from the southeast Asian cases but felt the book fell a little flat in terms of its power analysis and theoretical coupling of data centers to the political economy of cloud computing.

This is how they tell me the world ends: the cyberweapons arms race—Nicole Perlroth
Original book on the murky world of government zero-day trading and targeted spyware. Broad-ranging and engaging, a bit hyperbolic in some parts and steeped in American exceptionalism, which makes it painful at times for non-American readers. But still a good intro text.


Parenting & Children’s Books

As a parent of two tiny humans, I am constantly applying my academic skills (read, observe, ask, learn, apply, test, improve, panic, try again) to parenting. I deal with the essential anxiety around how to raise humans well by reading lots of books, about babies, to my babies, about parents, and with other parents. Here is some recent stuff I liked:

Matrescence—Lucy Jones
Of course, anthropologists wrote a book about the transition into motherhood and what it entails.

The Whole Brain Child—Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Practical strategies for parents to nurture their children’s emotional intelligence and promote healthy brain development through neuroscience.

When I grow up, I want to be rich—Annelou van Noort & Joëlle Opraus
Book to teach your kids how to be financially responsible, written by financial experts who are also moms.

The Crayon Book of Feelings—Drew Daywalt & Oliver Teffers
The crayons have a lot of color feelings, sometimes all at the same time. A super cute book to help small kids understand, name, and express their emotions.

Tango Makes Three—Justin Richardson, Peter Parneff and Henry Cole
A cute and true story about two male penguins at the New York Zoo who (*spoiler alert*) fall in love and raise a baby penguin named Tango.

The Enormous Crocodile—Roald Dahl, illustration by Quentin Blake
Very large crocodile tries to eat bunch of kids in creative ways, but largely fails.

I’d Really Want to eat a Child—Sylviane Donnio
Small crocodile wants to eat a human, fails because he is too tiny and resorts to eating bananas instead.

A Mother is a House—Aurore Petit
Bright colored drawings that show the many roles of mothers in a way that will make the most sturdy parents tear up.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse–Charlie Mackesy
Looking for a way to introduce graphic novels to your kids, without losing the depth and storyline of the adult version? This book does that, beautiful art that tells the story of familiar human emotions and how they manifest in us through the travels of a boy, mole, fox, and a horse.

Poetry, Graphic Novels & other

Three-Body Problem —Liu Cixin
Sci-Fi at its best. What happens to the Earth when we first encounter alien civilizations? What does space travel to the nature and ethics of humankind? What role does science play in the ability to protect human life? A realistic story about the dark nature of humans, our frail existence in the wide universe of space, and why our small politics will get the better of us even when faced with an existential extra-territorial threat.

The Parable of the Sower — Octavia E. Butler
A dystopian novel set in a collapsed future America. It follows Lauren Olamina, who possesses hyperempathy, as she starts a new belief system called Earthseed. The title alludes to a biblical parable about scattering seeds, symbolizing Olamina’s efforts to spread her ideas for a better future in a harsh world. The book explores themes of resilience, survival, and hope amidst adversity. It’s set in 2025..

The Fortune Men—Nadifa Mohamed
A beautiful novel about the trial and unwarranted execution of Mahmood Mattan, the last man to be hanged in Cardiff. Tells the story of Mattan’s life through the lens of 1950s Britain. Amazing ethnographic story-telling as well as a commentary on the whitewashing of institutional racism in British history.



I listen to the BBC’s daily news podcast, FT daily podcast,  Al Jazeera Updates, The Economist podcast, as well as to NPR News Now. When it comes to tech and politics, I listen to LawFare podcast, The Daily, The Intelligence, The Dig, Unhedged, The Artificial Intelligence Show, Screaming in the Cloud, Planet Money, Dadocracia, 99% Invisible, Tech Tonic, Babbage from the Economist, Rabbit Hole, and Radio Rechtstaat. I also like Esther Perel’s Where Should we Begin, Good Inside with Dr. Becky, BBC’s Child, Papo de Política, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Code Switch, Moshing to Mozart,  No Such Thing as A Fish, and true crime podcasts about The Netherlands (don’t @ me).

Mailinglists and other things that show up in my inbox

As an anthropologist of the Internet, I am subscribed to (too) many mailinglists + weekly/daily digests. My current favorites include: Logic Magazine, The Counterbalance, Data & Society’s newsletter, AI Now’s newsletter, Ada Lovelace Instititute Newsletter, Considerati newsletter, Benedict Evans newsletter, Rest of the World, Racism & Tech Center newsletter, Superrrrrr network, EDRi, DFF, Stichting Democratie & Media, CIS India, Algorithm Watch, Citizen Lab, EU AI Fund, CENTR newsletters,  IRTF HRPC, GAIA and PEARG mailinglists, Unfinished, New_Public,  I also follow several newsletters from industry players in the content delivery and cloud space.

There is space to learn more about organizations outside of the US/EU — I can read Dutch, English, Portuguese, and French, so hmu with your recommendations to expand my perspective!