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, 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 & childrens’ 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
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 how to recount 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 hactivists 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, learned a lot from the south east 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 newbie parent, I am constantly worried about all the ways in which I can mess up. I deal with that anxiety by reading lots of books, about babies, to my baby, about parents, and to myself.

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.

The Unicorn that Said No–Marc Uwe Kling
A rule breaking Unicorn who loves to say “No” goes on an adventure that rhymes with a bunch of other contrarians.

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 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.

 

Podcasts

I listen to the BBC’s daily news podcast, FT daily podcast, as well as to NPR News Now. When it comes to tech and politics, I listen to LawFare podcast, The Economist podcast, The Financial Times News Briefing, Planet Money, Dadocracia, 99% Invisible, Tech Won’t Save Us, Babbage from the Economist, Radio Rechtstaat, Response-ability podcast, The Anti-Dystopians, The Sunday Show by Tech Policy Press, Reply Guys, and Reply All. I also like Esther Perel’s Where Should we Begin, Good Inside with Dr. Becky, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, 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: Rest of the World, DataSyn by IT for change, I*: Navigating Internet Governance and Standards by the Center for Democracy and Tech, the digest by Protocol, Otherwise Mag, Logic Magazine,  EPIC people, The Counterbalance, Data & Society’s newsletter, the Stanford Digital Civil Society (PACS) newsletter, Ada Lovelace Institute newsletter, Considerati newsletter, Racism & Tech Center newsletter, Superrrrrr network, EDRi, DFF, SIDN, Stichting Democratie & Media, CIS India, Algorithm Watch, Citizen Lab, EU AI Fund, CENTR newsletters,  IRTF HRPC, GAIA and PEARG mailinglists, Unfinished, New_Public, The Relay by Alix Dunn,  I also follow a number of newsletters from industry players in the content delivery and cloud space.

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