The Poplar Tapes

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part3: Surveillance and Subject Formation)

June 15, 2019

The third and final instalment in our series on algorithms and the digital condition. In this episode Kiegan Irish and Alex Boos discuss what kinds of people we are becoming in a world dominated by communication media and surveillance. We talk about some of the implications of data collection for our daily lives and the way that companies and governments use data to incentivize certain kinds of behaviour. In the end, we speculate about ways of living and organizing around digital media that could serve as alternatives to the digital mechanisms of control and domination in the hands of the current ownership class.

Partial Series Bibliography:

Foucault, M. (1979). Panopticism. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
McLuhan, M. (2001). Understanding media. London: Routledge.
Stalder, F. (2018). The digital condition. Trans. Valentine A. Pakis. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Tufekci, Z. (2014). Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics. First Monday,19(7).
Tufekci, Z. (2016, May 19). The Real Bias Built In at Facebook. Retrieved from
Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. London: Profile Books.

Corrections: It is said that Edward Snowden worked for the CIA when in fact he worked for the NSA, Kiegan gets his acronyms for shadowy government spies mixed up.