Career Building and My Big Fat Data Analytics

Legwarmers

“Big data” lets you monitor your social reach, but at what price?

True Story: When I was in junior high, I was very, very concerned with getting my social status right. Who wasn’t? But it was particularly loaded for me because I had proven, to that point in my short life, to be a pretty abysmal failure at all things “social.” In my quest to achieve ever-elusive popularity, I learned to listen to music I didn’t particularly like. I did my level best to appear older than I was, and to at least give the appearance of sexual worldliness. I obsessed about my clothes and my hair. God it was painful.

I don’t think I am unique in this revelation about my adolescence. That’s why adolescence sucks. All the world is a mirror for a frail ego, confronted with a terrifyingly vast array of possible answers to the question “Who am I?”[1] I also don’t think I am unique in reflecting on this stormy period of life and thinking “Oh thank God that’s over with.” Or so we thought. Continue reading

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A Marxist Theory of Crafts (Or Why There’s a Michael’s)

I do remember the Cold War. Maybe you remember it like I do:

Marx = Communism = Soviet Death Squads + Ladas+ No Toilet Paper or Bread Today. In other words, I grew up with a very typical, boiled down (and incorrect) understanding of who Karl Marx was, and what his ideas have meant for economics and sociology.

The Industrial Revolution: Child Labour, Pollution, Consumption. Bummer.

Now if you aren’t mucking about in sociology or economics, you probably don’t care about the finer points of Marx like academic types do. Nonetheless, I hope you’ll bear with me as I try to give Marx his due here by telling you a little bit about his humanism. There’s (even) a point to this: Marx has something to say about why you may or may not hate your job. Also, as I proposed in my title, Marx has something to do with why the gynormous craft store Michael’s exists.

Grumpy, There’s-Gonna-Be-A-Revolution  Marx

Marx was actually a rather hard-headed, cantankerous sort of guy. Being poor himself couldn’t have helped. And he was seriously pissed about the miserable conditions under which the urban poor lived and worked. The Industrial Revolution was in full “flower.” Capitalism seemed to be benefiting a few by sacrificing the many, and Marx didn’t see things getting any better.

This is where your communism bit came from. Marx formulated economic theories that would serve as the basis for socialist revolutions, and eventually the formation of the U.S.S.R. [1] And because, as noted above, Marx is associated with the all the Communist Evils and eventual failures of the Soviet Union, his ideas remain suspect in popular imagination. Continue reading