Social and economic change

Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet

Alexis Madrigal – The Atlantic

Archiving documents is easy. You choose which ones to keep and put them somewhere safe. Archiving the digital equivalents of those documents throws up different practical problems, but is conceptually not very different. But often, and increasingly, our individual and collective digital footprints don’t fit neatly into that model. The relationships between things and the experience of consuming them become very different, less tangible and less stable. As this article discusses, there is an archive of Twitter in theory, but not in any practical sense, and not one of Facebook at all. And even if there were, the constant tweaking of interfaces and algorithms and increasingly finely tuned individualisation make it next to impossible to get hold of in any meaningful way.

So in this new world, perhaps archivists need to map, monitor and even create both views of the content and records of what it means to experience it. And that will be true not just of social media but increasingly of knowledge management in government and other organisations.

Data and AI

Machine learning, defined

Sarah Jamie Lewis

There’s a whole emerging literature summarised in those words. But it underlines how much of the current debate is still as much about what machine learning is as what it does.

Future of work

The invention of jobs

Stian Westlake

It’s often tempting – because it’s easy – to think that the way things currently are is the necessary and natural way of their being. That can be a useful and pragmatic assumption. Until it isn’t.