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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘big data

[URBAN NOTE] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait considers the possibility that our model for the evolution of galaxies might be partially disproven by Big Data.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly reports how she did her latest article for the New York Times.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the beginning of a search for habitable-zone planets around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The Crux looks at how the skull trophies of the ancient Maya help explain civilizational collapse.
  • D-Brief notes new evidence suggesting that our humble, seemingly stable Sun can produce superflares.
  • Dead Things reports on the latest informed speculation about the sense of smell of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares the NASA report on its progress towards the Lunar Gateway station.
  • Gizmodo looks at the growing number of China’s beautiful, deadly, blooms of bioluminescent algae.
  • io9 reports that Stjepan Sejic has a new series with DC, exploring the inner life of Harley Quinn.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at an example of a feminist musical, the Chantal Akerman The Eighties.
  • Language Hat links to a review of a dystopian novel by Yoko Tawada, The Emissary, imagining a future Japan where the learning of foreign languages is banned.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that history, and the writing of history, is an actual profession with skills and procedures writers in the field need to know.
  • Liam Shaw writes at the LRB Blog about how people in London, late in the Second World War, coped with the terrifying attacks of V2 rockets.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a new book, Wayfinding, about the neuroscience of navigation.
  • Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution reviews a Robert Zubrin book advocating the colonization of space and finds himself unconvinced.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the ancient comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko explored by the ESA Rosetta probe.
  • Roads and Kingdoms provides tips for visitors to the Paraguay capital of Asuncion.
  • Peter Rukavina reports that, on the day the new PEI legislature came in, 105% of Island electricity came from windpower.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel argues that, in searching for life, we should not look for exoplanets very like Earth.
  • Strange Company shares another weekend collection of diverse links.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little shares the views of Margaret Gilbert on social facts.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Kadyrov might dream of a broad Greater Chechnya, achieved at the expense of neighbouring republics.
  • Arnold Zwicky considers some superhero identity crises, of Superman and of others.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Charlie Stross hosts at Antipope another discussion thread examining Brexit.
  • Architectuul takes a look at five overlooked mid-20th century architects.
  • Bad Astronomy shares a satellite photo of auroras at night over the city lights of the Great Lakes basin and something else, too.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about the directions love has taken her, and wonders where it might have taken her readers.
  • Centauri Dreams reports on the Hayabusa 2 impactor on asteroid Ryugu.
  • John Quiggin at Crooked Timber takes issue with the claims of Steven Pinker about nuclear power.
  • D-Brief notes the detection, in remarkable detail, of a brilliant exocomet at Beta Pictoris.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the possibility that China might be building a military base in Cambodia.
  • Karen Sternheimer writes at the Everyday Sociology Blog about the importance of small social cues, easily overlookable tough they are.
  • Far Outliers notes the role of Japan’s imperial couple, Akihito and Michiko, in post-war Japan.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing writes about the potential inadequacy of talking about values.
  • Gizmodo notes a new study suggesting the surprising and potentially dangerous diversity of bacteria present on the International Space Station.
  • Mark Graham shares a link to a paper, and its abstract, examining what might come of the creation of a planetary labour market through the gig economy.
  • Hornet Stories takes a look at Red Ribbon Blues, a 1995 AIDS-themed film starring RuPaul.
  • io9 notes that Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke are co-writing a Pan’s Labyrinth novel scheduled for release later this year.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a new study suggesting 20% of LGBTQ Americans live in rural areas.
  • JSTOR Daily takes a look at the Bluestockings, the grouping of 18th century women in England who were noteworthy scholars and writers.
  • Language Hat notes an ambitious new historical dictionary of the Arabic language being created by the emirate of Sharjah.
  • Language Log examines, in the aftermath of a discussion of trolls, different cultures’ terms for different sorts of arguments.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how early forestry in the United States was inspired by socialist ideals.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map showing the different national parks of the United Kingdom.
  • Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, noting the new findings from the Chixculub impact, notes how monitoring asteroids to prevent like catastrophes in the future has to be a high priority.
  • The New APPS Blog explains how data, by its very nature, is so easily made into a commodity.
  • The NYR Daily considers the future of the humanities in a world where higher education is becoming preoccupied by STEM.
  • Corey S. Powell at Out There interviews Bear Grylls about the making of his new documentary series Hostile Planet.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw considers the pleasures of birds and of birdwatching.
  • Jason C. Davis at the Planetary Society Blog noted the arrival of the Beresheet probe in lunar orbit.
  • Drew Rowsome reviews the new amazing-sounding play Angelique at the Factory Theatre.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a paper that makes the point of there being no automatic relationship between greater gender equality and increases in fertility.
  • The Signal looks at how the Library of Congress has made use of the BagIt programming language in its archiving of data.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel comes up with questions to ask plausible visitors from other universes.
  • Strange Company notes the mysterious deaths visited on three members of a British family in the early 20th century. Who was the murderer? Was there even a crime?
  • Towleroad notes the activists, including Canadian-born playwright Jordan Tannahill, who disrupted a high tea at the Dorchester Hotel in London over the homophobic law passed by its owner, the Sultan of Brunei.
  • Window on Eurasia notes rising instability in Ingushetia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes that the British surveillance of Huawei is revealing the sorts of problems that must be present in scrutiny-less Facebook, too.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO tries to pit the west side of Toronto against the east side.
  • Centauri Dreams describes an inventive plan to launch a probe to rendezvous with Proxima Centauri.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the idea of civil society in the age of Trump.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper that aims to explore why Neptune-class exoplanets are so common.
  • Marginal Revolution notes an interesting history of Singapore.
  • The New APPS Blog links to a report suggesting that big data may have created President Trump.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the latest plans for exploring Ceres.
  • Towleroad notes a rumoured plan to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy has one take on Supreme Court obstructionism.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians may accept pension reforms which will place the minimum age for qualifying for a pension for men above the average male life expectancy, and reports from St. Petersburg about a dispute over the ownership of a church.

[BLOG] Some social sciences links

  • D-Brief looks at a study of the Jomon of prehistoric Japan, noting low levels of violence.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the sociological complexities of effective policing and crime.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas reports on the many good things in his life, personal and professional.
  • Language Hat considers the origins of the Chinese name for Rome and links to a map of Native American languages.
  • Language Log tracks down the origins of a Japanese sign barring Russian visitors.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the unemployed white working class and looks at American anti-urbanism in the 20th century.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the poor prospects of immigrants in Belgium on the job market.
  • Zero Geography reports on the importance of understanding the deep background to big data and the cloud.

[LINK] “Big Data and the Hyper-Reserve Army”

At the New APPS Blog, Gordon Hull writes from a Marxist perspective about one big problem with Big Data, particularly when connected to low-paid and low-status employment but not only. It makes it possible for people to be on call quite irregularly, getting hours dispersed so broadly that all other planning becomes impossible.

[T]his of course causes real, quantifiable increases in the levels of stress these workers face, since it makes it nearly impossible for them to juggle their (poorly remunerated) jobs, child care and other obligations. Such workers never had it easy, of course; on a slow day at the grocery store, you could always be sent home early (and without pay for the time you were scheduled but didn’t work). But this is something considerably more intense, I think, because it furthers the processes of real subsumption, where capital extends outside the factory walls and into all aspects of life. In the old way you could say with certainty whether you were at work, or not. Capital extended into the home removes this certainty.

One of the most discussed of such extensions is the direct extension of work into the home, as in the well-worn images of dads spending their entire time on the Blackberry, even during family dinners. At some point in that process, there is a further intensification: you find yourself not just doing one job all the time, but indefinitely many jobs in-between; the job morphs into what Ian Bogost calls hyperemployment (see also here and here). So for one segment of workers, it is impossible to stop working.

Scheduling-by-analytics shows the version of this process for lower socioeconomic strata. Marx had shown how capital depends on creating a “surplus population,” that then could serve as an industrial reserve army of contingent labor. Those workers would be called into the factory when there was extra work to do, and left unemployed and near starvation otherwise. Here we see the transformation of the industrial reserve army into something fitting the needs of post-industrial, service sector capital, abetted by analytics. Big data is very good at segmenting and regrouping formerly opaque-looking blocks of things – time, populations, etc. – and here we see it being used to precisely that effect, segmenting and reconfiguring the time of the working day to align that time as precisely as possible with the needs of employers.

In the factory system described by Marx, it is the steam engine that dictates time. In the contemporary service sector, it is predictions about customer traffic, and producing very granular predictions is the service the new scheduling software provides. The result is both an extension of work into the home that is almost the mirror image of the Blackberry dad, and also an intensification of the production of surplus population. The old Marxist surplus population had an excess of time away from the factory; the beleaguered service-sector employee can’t escape into her house or otherwise be away from work, not because she is working, but because she is not. In other words, the low-level service sector worker cannot escape work, even if she isn’t actually working, and even if she won’t actually be called into work, because the boss might decide at the last second that her services are required (temp workers have had to put up with this for a while, of course; the disturbing part here is these are workers who have “regular” jobs).

Written by Randy McDonald

December 12, 2014 at 2:59 am