What I'm Reading - Fall 23

Posted in: digital-humanities  reading 
Crossposted to the Scholars' Lab blog.

I’m going to start documenting the reading I’m doing on the blog here for a couple reasons. First, it will motivate me to keep at it! Second, it will give me some quick summary notes to look back on. I’m doing most of my reading these days by way of audiobooks, so it feels especially important to find some way of keeping what I’ve been exploring in my head. Hopefully this little public journal will do the trick! Here are some things I’ve been checking out lately, all available as audiobooks.

  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff. There are a range of useful terms here: instrumentarian, big other, shadow text, behavioral surplus, and more. They all cricle around the titular term, which refer to the new economic systems pioneered by technology companies that profit on the use of private data, data which enables those companies to further target consumers more precisely and efficiently in a kind of feedback loop.

  • Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin. This is an essential text for anyone interested broadly in how race intersects with technology. The “New Jim Code” is a useful takeaway term, and Wikipedia has good summary definition: “In it, Benjamin develops her concept of the “New Jim Code,” which references Michelle Alexander’s work The New Jim Crow, to analyze how seemingly ‘neutral’ algorithms and applications can replicate or worsen racial bias.”

  • Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers by Jessamyn Neuhaus. The main takeaway I got from this text was that sometimes new teachers assume that their passion for their subject matter will make them effective in the classroom. But this enthusiasm is not enough. Instead, Neuhaus offers a range of reflections to help new teachers from a broad range of categories–Intellectuals, Introverts, Nerds, Geeks–more effectively and inclusively reach a range of student audiences.

  • Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics by Joli Jensen. This book contains a range of strategies and tactics for fitting writing into the cracks of the academic day. While I disagree with the way the book treats labor within academic structures–really no matter what?–I did find some helpful approaches to developing process-oriented methods for getting writing done.

That’s all for now! More next time.