Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Neuroliberalism: Behavioural Government in the Twenty First Century’ (Whitehead et al. 2017)


Many governments in the developed world can now best be described as ‘neuroliberal’: having a combination of neoliberal principles with policy initiatives derived from insights in the behavioural sciences.

Neuroliberalism presents the results of the first critical global study of the impacts of the behavioural sciences on public policy and government actions, including behavioural economics, behavioural psychology and neuroeconomics. Drawing on interviews with leading behaviour change experts, organizations and policy-makers, and discussed in alignment with a series of international case studies, this volume provides a critical analysis of the ethical, economic, political and constitutional implications of behaviourally oriented government. It explores the impacts of the behavioural sciences on everyday life through a series of themes, including: understandings of the human subject; interpretations of freedom; the changing form and function of the state; the changing role of the corporation in society; and the design of everyday environments and technologies.

The research presented in this volume reveals a diverse set of neuroliberal approaches to government that offer policy-makers and behaviour change professionals a real choice in relation to the systems of behavioural government they can implement. This book also argues that the behavioural sciences have the potential to support much more effective systems of government, but also generate new ethical concerns that policy-makers should be aware of.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘No such thing as society? Liberal paternalism, politics of expertise, and the Corona crisis’ (Bacevic 2020)


‘Despite family resemblances with its neoliberal predecessor, the Government’s strategy is supposedly informed by a slightly different ideology – liberal paternalism, known as Nudge’, which gained notoriety after being enlisted by Blair, Cameron, and Obama administrations to advise on a range of public services. As a strategy of governance, ‘nudge’ draws on behavioural economics, a broadly heterodox approach that emphasizes limits to rational choice theories in understanding social dynamics. Three of its proponents – Daniel Kahneman, Robert Shiller, and Richard Thaler – were awarded Nobel Prizes, respectively in 2002, 2013 and 2017, but ‘Nudge’s’ most famous advocate is probably Cass Sunstein, an American legal scholar who led the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs between 2009 and 2012.’ (Bacevic 2020)

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Neuroliberalism: Cognition, context, and the geographical bounding of rationality’ (Whitehead et al. 2018)


Focusing on the rise of the behavioural sciences within the design and implementation of public policy, this paper introduces the concept of neuroliberalism and suggests that it could offer a creative context within which to interpret related governmental developments. Understanding neuroliberalism as a system of government that targets the more-than-rational aspects of human behaviour, this paper considers the particular contribution that geographical theories of context and spatial representation can make to a critical analysis of this evolving governmental project.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘The Californian Ideology’ (Barbrook and Cameron 1995)

Thank you to JB Falisse for introducing me to this resource!


‘At the end of the twentieth century, the long predicted convergence of the media, computing and telecommunications into hypermedia is finally happening. Once again, capitalism’s relentless drive to diversify and intensify the creative powers of human labour is on the verge of qualitatively transforming the way in which we work, play and live together. By integrating different technologies around common protocols, something is being created which is more than the sum of its parts. When the ability to produce and receive unlimited amounts of information in any form is combined with the reach of the global telephone networks, existing forms of work and leisure can be fundamentally transformed. New industries will be born and current stock market favourites will swept away. At such moments of profound social change, anyone who can offer a simple explanation of what is happening will be listened to with great interest. At this crucial juncture, a loose alliance of writers, hackers, capitalists and artists from the West Coast of the USA have succeeded in defining a heterogeneous orthodoxy for the coming information age: the Californian Ideology.

This new faith has emerged from a bizarre fusion of the cultural bohemianism of San Francisco with the hi-tech industries of Silicon Valley. Promoted in magazines, books, TV programmes, websites, newsgroups and Net conferences, the Californian Ideology promiscuously combines the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies. This amalgamation of opposites has been achieved through a profound faith in the emancipatory potential of the new information technologies. In the digital utopia, everybody will be both hip and rich. Not surprisingly, this optimistic vision of the future has been enthusiastically embraced by computer nerds, slacker students, innovative capitalists, social activists, trendy academics, futurist bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians across the USA. As usual, Europeans have not been slow in copying the latest fad from America. While a recent EU Commission report recommends following the Californian free market model for building the information superhighway, cutting-edge artists and academics eagerly imitate the post human philosophers of the West Coast’s Extropian cult. With no obvious rivals, the triumph of the Californian Ideology appears to be complete.’

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Automating mistrust’ (Williamson 2019)


‘The acquisition of plagiarism detection company Turnitin for US$1.75 billion, due to be completed later this year, demonstrates how higher education has become a profitable market for education technology companies. As concern grows about student plagiarism and ‘contract cheating’, Turnitin is making ‘academic fraud’ into a market opportunity to extend its automated detection software further. It is monetizing students’ writing while manufacturing mistrust between universities and students, and is generating some perverse side effects.’

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Algorithming the Algorithm’ (Uprichard and Mahnke 2014)


Imagine sailing across the ocean. The sun is shining, vastness all around you. And suddenly [BOOM] you’ve hit an invisible wall. Welcome to the Truman Show! Ever since Eli Pariser published his thoughts on a potential filter bubble, this movie scenario seems to have become reality, just with slight changes: it’s not the ocean, it’s the internet we’re talking about, and it’s not a TV show producer, but algorithms that constitute a sort of invisible wall. Building on this assumption, most research is trying to ‘tame the algorithmic tiger’. While this is a valuable and often inspiring approach, we would like to emphasize another side to the algorithmic everyday life. We argue that algorithms can instigate and facilitate imagination, creativity, and frivolity, while saying something that is simultaneously old and new, always almost repeating what was before but never quite returning. We show this by threading together stimulating quotes and screenshots from Google’s autocomplete algorithms. In doing so, we invite the reader to re-explore Google’s autocomplete algorithms in a creative, playful, and reflexive way, thereby rendering more visible some of the excitement and frivolity that comes from being and becoming part of the riddling rhythm of the algorithmic everyday life.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Noiszy’

Interesting Chrome extension which aims to resist those recording our “digital tracks” by algorithmically browsing selected sites in a “pseudo-random” fashion and creating noise and confusion…


You are being tracked.

Whatever you do online, you leave digital tracks behind.

These digital footprints are used to market to you – and to influence your thinking and behavior.

On April 3, President Donald Trump signed a repeal of online privacy rules that would have limited the ability of ISPs to share or sell customers’ browsing history for advertising purposes.

Erasing these footprints – or not leaving them in the first place – is becoming more difficult, and less effective.

Hiding from data collection isn’t working.

Instead, we can make our collected data less actionable by leaving misleading tracks, camouflaging our true behavior.

We can resist being manipulated by making ourselves harder to analyze – both individually, and collectively.

We can take back the power of our data.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Participation, codesign, diversity: Trebor Scholz on Platform Cooperativism’


‘The platform cooperativism movement intervenes at a moment of social crisis in the United States when ninety-four percent of jobs created over the past decade were not in the employment category. In 2016, over twelve million workers have made money on labor platforms. Much of that work is invisible with laborers often exploited, tucked away between algorithms. And over the long-term, as more labor markets shift to the Internet, it also matters that ownership of cloud services and social hangouts on the Internet is highly concentrated.’
Trebor Scholz (P2P Foundation 2017)

‘The importance of inclusive codesign has been one of the central insights for us. Codesign is the opposite of masculine Silicon Valley “waterfall model of software design,” which means that you build a platform and then reach out to potential users. We follow a more feminine approach to building platforms where the people who are meant to populate the platform are part of building it from the very first day. We also design for outliers: disabled people and other people on the margins who don’t fit into the cookie-cutter notions of software design of Silicon Valley.’
Trebor Scholz (P2P Foundation 2017)

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