His explanation of his strategic capacities is “I am an electrician.” This reminds me of Matthew Crawford’s painstaking work on the “cognitive riches” of trade labour. (Summary here.) Crawford’s point is that trade work is satisfying. Wałȩsa’s point is that it is also a form of analytic training.
Today my beloved MacBook Pro fried its logic board…Why is there so much consumer choice but not what I want?…But my real question is why aren’t companies somebody refurbishing the beautiful, solid old hardware chasses of these classic designs. Convert those BMWs and Mercedes to electric systems? Design lightweight guts for those beautiful PowerBooks and Communicators. If corporate design can’t match vintage classics, then innovative small companies should be designing custom kits to keep these beauties on the road.
The prison industrial complex is based on the insight that bodies can be made profitable without their consent. You just need the right regulatory framework. Governments come in handy for corporate schemes. Nutritionists’ longstanding warnings that processed food is unhealthy are beginning to materialize as public health crises. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Food announced this week that “unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco.” The carcinogenic tendencies of agricultural […read the rest]
Both vertical and horizontal integration being tedious, the new business model is getting out of the business of making things and into the business of control. So many people are already good at running little sweatshops and raising cattle, why bother? To capture the profit in the beef industry, you don’t need to actually raise animals. Indeed you don’t even need to sell them. The key is to seize control over killing and chopping up […read the rest]
Ok, so we’re cyborgs now. This means that we will start to notice performance differences among us which are based on purchased augmentations. If you have one of the latest smartphones, you not only don’t need to remember telephone numbers, you don’t need to plan anything in advance. The phone knows where you are. It knows the places you go to often and it will let you know how to get there by various means […read the rest]
Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. 2009: Penguin Books. If the regard that many people now have for the wider ramifications of their food choices could be brought to our relationships to our own automobiles, it could sustain pockets of mindful labor…  This is the book I wanted to write, to try to get at the fulfilments of artisanship, and what this suggests for how we […read the rest]
Noam Chomsky is perhaps best known for the book he wrote with Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent, also made into a wonderful film. They show how the mainstream media is used to manufacture political consent in purported democracies. I’m interested in how consent is manufactured to other kinds of changes in our worlds. For example, biotechnology crops have been so widely introduced and with so little oversight, that we now hear that we are eating biotech […read the rest]
I grew up on the phone. My mom, a sole proprietor, expected me to help with whatever was on. The San Francisco phone book was nearly 10cm thick and I knew how to use it. “I need 8 dozen beeswax candles and the color has to match.” Yellow pages. Candles. Rotary dial. I called every candle store in the Bay Area. They all answered the phone. Handed my mom a report 45 minutes later with […read the rest]
No one existed for them who could not be governed by their intentions, Patricia Wiliams, The Alchemy of Race & Rights M.I.T. has recently discovered third world poverty. A number of institutional projects have emerged which endeavor to put M.I.T.’s considerable resources to use in service of poverty alleviation and development. In 2007 and 2008 I had the opportunity to spend nine months doing ethnographic observation of these projects. As a sociologist of political economy, […read the rest]