Insourcing(?) at Outsourcing Centers

Bruce Sterling’s blog carries a piece on how British backpackers and Britons of Indian origin are taking jobs in Indian call-centers, the former doing so to extend their vacations, the latter to see their country of origin. See Brit backpackers take Indian call-centre jobs and the original in The Independent

But the New York Times observes that it’s not just low-wage, low-skill jobs that are going abroad. Increasingly, High Tech jobs are heading overseas.

Read more

The Rise of the Object

A number of pieces have washed in over the transom over the last few days. Even more than postmodernism, Network Culture thrives on the paranoiac construction of connections and this post to has turned into precisely such a venture. Make your own flowchart if this one leads to madness.

First, John Southern sends this piece, Machines and objects to overtake humans on the Internet, on the prediction by the UN’s telecommunications agency, the International Telecommunication Unit, that in future decades there will be tens of billions of objects connected to the Internet, leaving human users a distinct second. If the Internet becomes a vast grid capable of metering the world, what use will we put that too? Bruce Sterling is our theorist for this project, suggesting that the result is an informational universe composed of what he calls Spimes.

But where is this all leading to? At BoingBoing Xeni Jardin blogs historian George Dyson’s article Turing’s Cathedral, a reflection on his visit to Google. In response to a statement by a Google employee that‘s project of scanning vast libraries of literature is not so much to make the material available for humans but to provide reading material for an AI (Artificial Intelligence). Dyson points out that with the sum of the world’s knowledge on the Internet, connections previously unimagined and undreamed of will soon become possible. Is it coincidence that Google is a word coined by a nine year old? Google, on the other hand. denies these rumors. Or at least is sidestepping them.

Read more

network culture chart

Fredric Jameson’s classic description of Postmodernism as the cultural logic of late capitalism is now well over twenty years old. Jameson’s analysis is crucial for understanding late twentieth century thinking, but in the intervening years, culture has changed radically. As part of my Networked Publics fellowship at the Annenberg Center for Communication, I am preparing a series of documents about the cultural dominant that succeeds postmodernism. This material was developed over the last four years with new media architecture collaborative AUDC. Instead of a theoretical piece, I’ll open this discussion with a table outlining some empirical observations about this new condition which we can term "Network Culture," or perhaps "Transcontemporaneity."

Read more

Chris Anderson Lecture at the Annenberg Center for Communications

Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine will be lecturing on “The Longer Tail” this Wednesday, November 9, 2:30-4.00pm at the Annenberg Center for Communication, 734 W. Adams Blvd, between Hoover and Figueroa as part of the Networked Publics lecture series which I am involved in organizing.

Anderson will address the cultural impact of The Long Tail, a power-law curve in which a high-frequency population is followed by a low-frequency population. Such distributions are common in culture and in the culture industry in particular (e.g. New York Times Bestsellers versus all other books, the Billboard Top 100 vs. all other CDs, and so on). Traditionally the Long Tail was seen as economically useless. Today, however, mega-retailers such as, and Apple’s iTunes service find that the total volume of the low part of the curve exceeds that of the high part of the curve and even encourage patrons to visit the Long Tail through purchase-based recommendations. This is neither Fordist marketing nor Post-Fordist niche marketing. It is something else entirely and corresponds to a developing cultural condition I have identified as transcontemporeneity. Anderson’s lecture will survey the research he is undertaking as the author of the forthcoming book, The Long Tail, which was based on an influential 2004 article he published in Wired. Anderson runs a blog on the subject at

Read more