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Coming soon... The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction


I’m very happy to announce the first sharable details about my new forthcoming book (co-authored with Jamie Woodcock). The book will be out in November, but you can already pre-order it with a 20% discount using this form or the code GIG20 on the Polity Books website.

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction 

Jamie Woodcock & Mark Graham 

From the reviews: 

‘Challenging and important, giving voice to workers on the front line of our growing gig economy. A must read for trade unionists, policymakers and everyone with an interest in making work better amidst rapid tech change’. 

Frances O’Grady, TUC 

About the book: 

All of a sudden, everybody’s talking about the gig economy. From taxi drivers to pizza deliverers to the unemployed, we are all aware of the huge changes that it’s driving in our lives as workers, consumers and citizens. Drawing upon years of research, stories from gig workers, and a review of the key trends and debates, Jamie Woodcock and Mark Graham shed light on how the gig economy came to be, how it works and what it’s like to work in it. They show that, although it has facilitated innovatory new services and created jobs for millions, it is not without cost. It allows businesses and governments to generate value while passing significant risk and responsibility onto the workers that make it possible. This is not, however, an argument for turning the clock back. Instead, the authors outline four strategies that can produce a fairer gig economy that works for everyone. 

PUBLICATION DETAILS: November 2019 | Paper| ISBN 978-1-5095-3636-8 | £14.99| £11.99 with 20% off 

Society & The Internet book is now out!
http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199662005.do

The “Society & The Internet” book is now finally out!


How is society being shaped by the diffusion and increasing centrality of the Internet in everyday life and work? By bringing together leading research that addresses some of the most significant cultural, economic, and political roles of the Internet, this volume introduces students to a core set of readings that address this question in specific social and institutional contexts. 

Internet Studies is a burgeoning new field, which has been central to the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), an innovative multi-disciplinary department at the University of Oxford. Society and the Internet builds on the OII’s evolving series of lectures on society and the Internet. The series has been edited to create a reader to supplement upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses that seek to introduce students to scholarship focused on the implications of the Internet for networked societies around the world.

The chapters of the reader are rooted in a variety of disciplines, but all directly tackle the powerful ways in which the Internet is linked to political, social, cultural, and economic transformations in society. This book will be a starting point for anyone with a serious interest in the factors shaping the Internet and its impact on society.  The book begins with an introduction by the editors, which provides a brief history of the Internet and Web and its study from multi-disciplinary perspectives. The chapters are grouped into five focused sections: (I) Internet Studies of Everyday Life, (II) Information and Culture on the Line, (III) Networked Politics and Government, (IV) Networked Businesses, Industries, and Economies, and (V) Technological and Regulatory Histories and Futures.

Full table of contents below:

Society and the Internet How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives

Manuel Castells: Foreword
Mark Graham and William H. Dutton: Introduction

Part I. Internet Studies Of Everyday Life
1: Aleks Krotoski: Inventing the Internet: Scapegoat, Sin Eater, and Trickster
2: Grant Blank And William Dutton: Next Generation Internet Users: A New Digital Divide
3: Bernie Hogan And Barry Wellman: The Conceptual Foundations of Social Network Sites and the Emergence of the Relational Self-Portrait
4: Victoria Nash: The Politics of Children s Internet Use
5: Lisa Nakamura: Gender and Race Online

Part II. Information And Culture On The Line
6: Mark Graham: Internet Geographies: Data Shadows and Digital Divisions of Labour
7: Gillian Bolsover, William H. Dutton, Ginette Law, And Soumitra Dutta: China and the US in the New Internet World: A Comparative Perspective
8: Nic Newman, William H. Dutton, And Grant Blank: Social Media and the News: Implications for the Press and Society
9: Sung Wook Ji And David Waterman: The Impact of the Internet on Media Industries: An Economic Perspective
10: Ralph Schroeder: Big Data: Towards a More Scientific Social Science and Humanities?

Part III. Networked Politics And Governments
11: Miriam Lips: Transforming Government by Default?
12: Stephen Coleman And Jay Blumler: The Wisdom of Which Crowd? On the Pathology of a Digital Democracy Initiative for a Listening Government
13: Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon: Online Social Networks and Bottom-up Politics
14: Helen Margetts, Scott A. Hale, Taha Yasseri: Big Data and Collective Action
15: Elizabeth Dubois And William H. Dutton: Empowering Citizens of the Internet Age: The Role of a Fifth Estate

Part IV: Networked Businesses, Industries AND Economies
16: Greg Taylor: Scarcity of Attention for a Medium of Abundance: An Economic Perspective
17: Richard Susskind: The Internet in the Law: Transforming Problem-Solving and Education
18: Laura Mann: The Digital Divide and Employment: The Case of the Sudanese Labour Market
19: Mark Graham: A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

Part V. Technological And Regulatory Histories And Futures
20: Eli M. Noam: Next-Generation Content for Next-Generation Networks
21: Christopher Millard: Data Privacy in the Clouds
22: Laura Denardis: The Social Media Challenge to Internet Governance
23: Yorick Wilks: Beyond the Internet and Web

We’re also able to give people codes that offer a 30% discount on the list price (see the codes below). Meaning that you can get the 390 page paperback for only £17.49 in the UK and $32 in the US. I hope this becomes a useful teaching and reference tool for anyone thinking about the collisions and co-constructions of the Internet and society.


Society and the Internet How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives

The book that Bill Dutton and I have been working on for a few years is now approaching publication and has a space on the Oxford University Press website. The paperback, hardback, and ebook copies should be out in May, and I’ll post more information about the book, and why we brought it together, closer to the release date.

Full table of contents below:

Society and the Internet How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives

Manuel Castells: Foreword
Mark Graham and William H. Dutton: Introduction

Part I. Internet Studies Of Everyday Life
1: Aleks Krotoski: Inventing the Internet: Scapegoat, Sin Eater, and Trickster
2: Grant Blank And William Dutton: Next Generation Internet Users: A New Digital Divide
3: Bernie Hogan And Barry Wellman: The Conceptual Foundations of Social Network Sites and the Emergence of the Relational Self-Portrait
4: Victoria Nash: The Politics of Children s Internet Use
5: Lisa Nakamura: Gender and Race Online

Part II. Information And Culture On The Line
6: Mark Graham: Internet Geographies: Data Shadows and Digital Divisions of Labour
7: Gillian Bolsover, William H. Dutton, Ginette Law, And Soumitra Dutta: China and the US in the New Internet World: A Comparative Perspective
8: Nic Newman, William H. Dutton, And Grant Blank: Social Media and the News: Implications for the Press and Society
9: Sung Wook Ji And David Waterman: The Impact of the Internet on Media Industries: An Economic Perspective
10: Ralph Schroeder: Big Data: Towards a More Scientific Social Science and Humanities?

Part III. Networked Politics And Governments
11: Miriam Lips: Transforming Government by Default?
12: Stephen Coleman And Jay Blumler: The Wisdom of Which Crowd? On the Pathology of a Digital Democracy Initiative for a Listening Government
13: Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon: Online Social Networks and Bottom-up Politics
14: Helen Margetts, Scott A. Hale, Taha Yasseri: Big Data and Collective Action
15: Elizabeth Dubois And William H. Dutton: Empowering Citizens of the Internet Age: The Role of a Fifth Estate

Part IV: Networked Businesses, Industries AND Economies
16: Greg Taylor: Scarcity of Attention for a Medium of Abundance: An Economic Perspective
17: Richard Susskind: The Internet in the Law: Transforming Problem-Solving and Education
18: Laura Mann: The Digital Divide and Employment: The Case of the Sudanese Labour Market
19: Mark Graham: A Critical Perspective on the Potential of the Internet at the Margins of the Global Economy

Part V. Technological And Regulatory Histories And Futures
20: Eli M. Noam: Next-Generation Content for Next-Generation Networks
21: Christopher Millard: Data Privacy in the Clouds
22: Laura Denardis: The Social Media Challenge to Internet Governance
23: Yorick Wilks: Beyond the Internet and Web

Everyware and Ubiquitous Computing
“computers will die. They’re dying in their present form. They’re just about dead as distinct units. A box, a screen, a keyboard. They’re melting into the texture of everyday life…even the word ‘computer’ sounds backward and dumb” (Greenfield 2006: 93).
I recently finished reading Adam Greenfield’s Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing. This collection of 81 brief theses outlines how ubiquitous computing has changed and will change society, and explores the ways in which its emergence can be shaped. The term everyware refers to a paradigm of “invisible computing” that is coming into being: computing that is not linked to specific personal devices, but is everywhere, not just in all places, but also in all things.

In everyware, broad networks will link together a variety of embedded systems: “what we’re contemplating here is the extension of information –sensing, -processing, and –networking capabilities to entire classes of things we’ve never before thought of as “technology.” At least , we haven’t thought of them that way in a long, long time: I’m talking about artifacts such as clothing, furniture, walls and doorways.”

A related, and extremely useful, concept introduced by Greenfield is the idea of ambient informatics. The term signifies the “state in which information is freely available at the point in space and time someone requires it, generally to support a specific decision.” In other words, information is no longer tied to physical things or places. Information instead becomes infinitely accessible from anywhere, using any tool or device. Everyware is therefore not limited to the “woodwork” of a given, bounded place. It is rather circumambient in the world.

These are far-reaching and powerful predications, and Greenfield devotes much of the book to carefully outlining the specific ways in which everyware will be brought into being. He proclaims “it is coming – and as yet, the people who will be most affected by it, the overwhelming majority of whom are nontechnical, nonspecialist, ordinary citizens of the developed world, barely know it even exists.” One reason why a state of everyware seems inevitable to Greenfield is the logic of convergence. Everything can and will connect because all things will share the common language of “on and off, yes or no, one and zero.” “Everything that can be digital, will be” and everything that is digital can be meshed, mashed, and connected. Greenfield further argues that everyware is structurally latent in several emerging technologies, and that these necessary technologies are becoming cheap and accessible.

Interestingly, the book devotes some space to a discussion of bridges between atoms and bits. Greenfield argues that ”the significance of technologies like RFID and 2D bar-coding is that they offer a low-impact way to “import” physical objects into the datasphere, to endow them with an informational shadow. An avocado, on its own, is just a piece of fleshy green fruit – but an avocado whose skin has been laser-etched with a machine-readable 2D code can tell you how and under what circumstances it was grown, when it was picked, how it was shipped, who sold it to you, and when it’ll need to be used by (or thrown out). This avocado, that RFID-tagged pallet – each is now relational, searchable, availableto any suitable purpose or application a robust everyware can devise for it.”

A number of worrying points are also made in the book:
  • “…everyware functions as an extension of power into public space” Thus, our notions of what counts as public cannot help but be changed.
  • “The passive nature of our exposure to the networked sensor grids and other methods of data collection implied by everyware implicates us whether we know it or not, want it or not.”
  • Everyware is problematic because it is difficult to see. We thus cease to see some tools as technology and their effects can become naturalised. This shields us from a fuller understand of the power-relations embedded into each situation and action.
  • The design of ubiquitous systems and everyware shapes the choices available to us in our everyday interactions with the world.
  • “Where everyware is concerned, we can no longer expect anything to exist in isolation from anything else.” Facts acquire immortality, but we traditionally we have relied on exformation (information leaving the world).
  • “With everyware, all that information about you or me going into the network implies that it comes out again somewhere else – a “somewhere” that is difficult or impossible to specify ahead of time – and this has real consequences for how we go about constructing a social self”

The book concludes with some suggestions for ways that everyware should be designed and structured in order to avoid some of the most worrying aspects of ubiquitous computing. The prescriptions are all well thought out, but it is hard not to get the sense that many of these ideas will never actually be implements by the engineers who knowingly or unknowingly are designing systems that will fundamentally alter the human experience. For example, we are told that “everyware must be deniable.” Few would disagree with this statement, but one struggles to imagine just how feasible this idea is. Isn’t the whole idea behind everyware that it is everywhere? This is perhaps then the most concerning aspect of this book. Although a clearly deterministic argument is being made, it is difficult to see how the logics of convergence and cheap and accessible information technologies, for better or worse, will not bring about some form of ubiquitous computing in the future.