What we read this week (20 September)

Spies, Tech Intellectuals, the truly smart people at Improving Reality 2013 and ethnographers writing fantasy. Enclosed by JG Ballard and Scott Smith.

Quote of the week

The totalitarian systems of the future will be subservient and ingratiating, the false smile of the bored waiter rather than the jackboot.

JG Ballard

Articles of the week

  • WSJ: The Fine Art of Spying
    An meticulously researched piece on artist who explore the new realm of us spying and being spied on. Artist from around the world attempt to give us a new perspective onto the world that already surrounds us. As with science fiction writers, the work of artist seems to have changed into explaining the world around us instead of artist, whether or not they are science fiction writers, are increasingly preoccupied with describing the world that surrounds us instead of a world that will do so.
  • Democracy Journal: The Tech Intellectuals
    Great analysis of the current group of tech thinkers (Shirky, Jarvis, Morozov etc.) who’s dependence on the attention economy often stands in the way of them contributing the really great ideas and insights that would move the conversation forward.
  • Improving Reality 2013
    If there’s one conference that we’re still really frustrated about having missed this year, it’s Improving Reality, and this write-up by Natalie Kane will tell you why. We’ll let you know when the videos are available.
  • Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design
    For September, Ethnography Matters is looking at the relationship between ethnography, speculative fiction and design. The first contribution comes from Anne Galloway who describes how she’s combining design and fantasy writing to explore new futures beyond the scientifically sound and feasible.
  • Going Critical
    Scott Smith is describing the anti-MOOC future of education without even mentioning MOOCs. His reflections read more like a manifesto of imparting the skills to explore and create different futures than teach the knowledge of one “particular future” we seem to have decided upon.

Author: Johannes

Johannes is a strategist and consultant for digital communications. His work is informed by his experience of working with brands like Deutsche Telekom, MTV, Postbank, Maggi and Nike and by his insatiable appetite for finding the bigger patterns behind current developments in technology and science. Holding a diploma in Media System Design, Johannes is a regular speaker at web and marketing conferences like Republica and the Social Media Summit.