Archiv der Kategorie: English

Financial crisis visualized


Part 2

Jonathan Jarvis at the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California did this visualization and simplification of the financial market crisis which began as a mortgage crisis, then became crisis and now is an economic crisis affecting all of too. As the author writes at credit crisis visualized, the goal is giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated, rather than figuring a way out. Neither does it mention the larger historical development of mortgage lending business, nor does it talk about state regulation and the role of institutions, e.g. social security or the lack of it. And the black screen at the end of the short film is just the beginning of the downward circle affecting the real economy of production and innovation, as well. Moreover, it is anything but a solution to the problem. Nice work for a thesis and cool visualization, but the limits are also clear. Via Mike Wesch & Spreeblick. Thanks!

Coming up: Post on the involvement of the German economy and the flip side of institutional change of corporate capitalism in Germany, together with the dissolution of „Germany Inc.“ In the meantime, I can offer an older post from July 14, 2008: Why the US recession will bite the German economy, too.

Update: PBS documentary of financial breakdown „On Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008, the astonished leadership of the U.S. Congress was told in a private session by the chairman of the Federal Reserve that the American economy was in grave danger of a complete meltdown within a matter of days.“ [56 min]. Via Sprechblase.


Tina, Warholized

Tina, Warholized

Sun was not really shining today, but at least I got some colors from the Warholizer. Via Daniel Fiene.

Advertising space? „Web Search – Multidisciplinary Perspectives“. A discussion.

Web search

Web search

Search engines are a core component of the internet as we know it. Based on Durkheims idea in his book „Division of labor“ suggesting infrastructure such as roads and railways connect people, enabes economic development and – indirectly – contributes to the transformation of social solidarity, it is hard to overestimate the impact of search engines. On any day in 2006, about 60 million adult Americans entered more than 200 million search queries into searchengines. In 2005, 84 per cent of Internet users have used search engines. On any given day, 56 per cent of those online have used search engines. 92 per cent of those who use search engines say they are confident about their searching abilities, with over half of them, 52 per cent, say they’re “very confident”. 68 per cent of users say that search engines are a fair and unbiased source of information. Only 19 per cent say they don’t place that trust in search engines (PEW Internet and American life project – Search engine users, 2005). As of August 2007, Google is not only handling the majority of all search queries. It manages to increase its share to handling 1200 million searches per day on average worldwide, according to Clickz reporting on Comscore data. Yahoo is way behind at 275 million search queries per day, and MSN at 70 Million. Baidu (a Chinese search engine) beats MSN, coming in at 105 million. 2006 figures for the US only put Google at 91 million searches per day. Reason enough to theorize a little bit about search engines, their importance, their policies and why they give rise to trust concerns online. Search engines are technology, information infrastructure, knowledge infrastructure and a socio-economic thing simultaneously. Hence, if I enter a search query into any search engine, Is it social action? Is it economic action? Can social and economic action be separated in a search query, at all? And how does that relate to trust concerns?

So I came across “Web Search – Multidisciplinary Perspectives” (Springer, 2008), edited by Amanda Spink and Michael Zimmer. The book is structured into three main sections with five chapters each. Following the introduction, Part II presents social, cultural and philosophical aspects of Web search. Part III presents political, legal and economic aspects of Internet search. Part IV presents information behavior perspectives. And in section five – conclusion – the editors draw together the results and discuss avenues for further research.

Essays include “Through the Google Googles: Sociopolitical Bias in Search Engine Design”, “Reconsidering the Rhizome: A textual Analysis of Web Search Engines ”, “Searching ethics: The role of search engines in the Construction and Distribution of knowledge”, “The Gaze of the Perfect Search Engine: Google as an Infrastructure of Dataveillance”, “Search Engine Liability for Copyright Infringement”, “The democratizing effects of Search Engine use: On Chance exposures and Organizational Hubs”, “Googling Terrorists: Are Northern Irish Terrorists visible on Internet search engines?”, “The history of Internet Search Engine: Navigational Media and the Traffic Commodity”, “Toward a Web Search Information Behavior model”, “Web Searching for Health: theoretical foundations and Connections to Health Related Outcomes”, and
“Web Searching: A quality measurement Perspective.” Weiterlesen

Christmas in World War II

Harry Brighouse at Crookedtimber has this documentary video from the British National Archive (BFI) of Christmas 1940, the year of the German Blitzkrieg, in England. Despite the desperate situation, it was ‚business as usual‘ as England prepared for Christmas in this propaganda film intended for US audiences. It’s a Christmas of holly and barbed wire, guns and tinsel, yet the British, we are told, are determined to make it as cheerful as possible.

The German ARD has broadcast a documentary of Christmas 1945. Germany, having lost World War II that same year, was in a state of anarchy. Farmers were robbed by looters, people stood waiting in long queues in front of shops for a piece of bread and a few potatoes. Since the video shows the time right after the war in 1945 and before the Marshall plan was put into place in 1948, the allies considered 1200 calories a day enough for a German worker to survive, and money was basically worthless due to the scarcity of food. Both videos give an account of the immense human suffering of the civil population and people’s attempts to at least let their children experience a few hours of piece and joy, and they show the ugly consequences of any war to the present day.

Happy 100. Birthday, Claude Levi-Strauss

The last of the great post-War public intellectualsFrench ethnologist and founder of structuralist ethnology Claude Levi-Strauss is alive and well at 100 years of age. Happy birthday and – hopefully – many happy years ahead! Levi-Strauss‘ structuralism revolutionized anthropology and sociology and is considered a foundation for the various disciplines of the social sciences today. Levi-Strauss‘ analysis of myths was a revelation of the power of structural analysis that laid the grounds for many contemporary analyses. And his influence on the French intellectual scene is undisputed even as other French intellectuals – like Bourdieu and Foucault –  criticized structuralism for its underestimation of power (Via Global Sociology). The French/German TV-NetworkARTE has this 90 minute show on the founder of structural anthropology.

Sociology Conference Biz 2009

It has been quiet here on Sozlog lately, but that has a number of reasons: First, I had to get my two courses of Sociology at the University of Würzburg on track, one on „Sociology of knowledge“ [HS Spezielle Soziologie „Das Wissen vom Wissen“], the other on „Sociology of the internet“ [HS Spezielle Soziologie „Soziologie des Internet“]. Second, I have increased activity on my  „Sozwiki„where I put together resources related to sociology and and I hope that my students will contribute valuable material relating to their courses. And third, new Social Media such as Twitter and Friendfeed organizing content into flows have quite a bit of fascination. Last night, I was curious about conferences relevant for sociologists in 2009. It took about two hours to put together this list of conferences. With just a little more effort, the list can easily be doubled. Please feel free to add more conferences on sociology or send a note such that I can complete the list. Weiterlesen

Two challenges President elect Barack Obama will face when taking office

As President elect Barack Obama is getting ready to take office on january 20th 2009, all political leaders on the international stage rallying to congratulate and confronting him with their tremendous expectations, I would like to express how admirable I find his political campaign. Unfortunately, my post will add to high hopes and expectations he is aware of, anyway, from a German perspective. Having watched the entire election night on November 4/November 5 live and two years of campaign trail on CNN before it is not diffiult for Americans to see that all of us here were in a political campaign fever, too. Rallying around the Obama flag internationally looks like this, these days. Shrinkingissaac writes he „is amused by how many non-Americans i know are as excited about last night as any Americans i know.“ . Marcus Beckedahl at Netzpolitik predicts that German election campaign of 2009 online will be nothing more than a gray shade as compared to Obama’s campaign. The Britons, by contrast, invite Obama’s election campaign team and try to learn how key lessons from Obama’s presidential campaign can be transferred to Britain. That is what I would expect for political campaigning in Germany, as well.

Barack Obama has taken Max Weber’s concept of the charismatic leader to a whole new level and into the 21st century with his impressive campaign. No other political leader can recur on a broad social movement to get things done. No other leader will have as much political power and as much influence as compared to Barack Obama in the years to come.

Fabio Rojas at orgtheory writes: „But before these issues assert themselves and force me to be critical, I wanted to take a few moments to discuss why I found Obama such a profoundly impressive figure over the past ten years.“ and points to Obama’s equanimity and openness in communication and to his persona combining intelligence, broad mindedness, inclusiveness, and charity toward the listener. From what I have perceived on the media Obama has a calmness hat makes him almost inprovokeable. Obama is not only a tremendous speaker in public but also an intellectual, who, I hope, is capable of dealing with enormous complexity, with interlinkeages and interdependencies among the various challenges confronting him. But it is the ascribed personality, our hopes and expectations, is what makes Obama a charismatic political leader unlike any other contemporay politician. So, in the face of the global challenges ahead I’ll try to explore why not only the United States but world citizens long for Barack Obama’s charismatic leadership. Why will Obama need the broad social movement that he created to get things done? Weiterlesen