book launch: Sarah Brayne, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing

The SMC loves good books. And we especially love books that tackle vital societal problems in a way that’s timely but also deeply researched, that ask biting questions of institutions without turning them into straw men, that investigate technology in its real use contexts, and that complicate things that may at first appear simple. And we REALLY like books from our excellent SMC postdocs, especially when we were there to see these books become books. Latest in this illustrious group is Sarah Brayne, now an assistant professor in Sociology at UT Austin, and her book Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing, from Oxford UP. The book offers an ethnographic “account of how a massive law enforcement agency leverages big data technologies to expand surveillance in the name of objective, predictive policing.”

Sarah is having a virtual book launch, in conversation with Bruce Western of Columbia University, that we highly recommend. November 20, 2pm CST. You can RSVP here, and in the process, receive a 30% discount code for the book.

announcing The Digital City – a new book from Germaine Halegoua

We’re happy to announce the publication of Germaine Halegoua’s new book from NYU Press, The Digital City: Media and the Social Production of Urban Place. (You can read an excerpt published by Flaunt Magazine, or an interview with Germaine about the book.)

Five case studies from global and mid-sized cities around the world illustrate the concept of “re-placeing” by showing how different populations employ urban broadband networks, social and locative media platforms, digital navigation practices, smart cities, and creative placemaking initiatives to re-produce abstract urban spaces as inhabited places with deep meanings and emotional attachments.

“Maybe it’s not that the nature of place is changing, but what place means now within the digital era is changing… Part of the way that it’s changing is because place is not necessarily about static pause, or even an exact location, but it’s more of an event. It’s more of a performance. So place itself is becoming a little bit more mutable, more changeable, more fluid in the sense that its meaning is becoming more changeable, mutable and fluid through the use of digital technologies.”

Halegoua argues that a sense of place is integral to understanding contemporary relationships with digital media while highlighting our own awareness of the places where we find ourselves and where our technologies find and place us. This book expands practical and theoretical understandings of how urban planners envision and plan connected cities, the role of urban communities in shaping and interpreting digital architectures, and the tales of the city produced through mobile and web-based platforms. Digital connectivity is reshaping the city as well as the ways we navigate through it and belong within it. How this happens and the types of places we produce within these networked environments is what this book addresses.

An Internet for the People – First Chapter Preview

I’m delighted to share that my new book, An Internet for the People: The Politics and Promise of craigslist, is out now from Princeton University Press. This book considers the vision of a single platform as instructive for thinking about the future of the web: craigslist. Over its 22 year history, craigslist has grown into a multi-faceted website for local exchanges, which can include buying, selling, hiring, apartment seeking, dating or simply ranting about the neighborhood. At once outdated and highly relevant, easy to use and easy to overlook, craigslist has mostly stayed the same while the web around it has changed, becoming less open and more profit driven. The design decisions and user policies governing craigslist give shape to particular a form of politics, and examining these rules and norms reveals what we stand to lose if the web continues to become less open, more homogenous and geared towards sleek professionalism over messy serendipity.


Here’s the introduction (thanks to the folks at Princeton University Press for letting me share this new work) and here’s a fun video with highlights from the book (thanks to the communications team at Annenberg for their help!).

pdf is from AN INTERNET FOR THE PEOPLE: The Politics and Promise of craigslist by Jessa Lingel. Copyright © 2019 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted here by permission of the publisher

Playing to the NYC Crowd and other SMC outings

As I hope you’ve heard by now, the SMC is publishing books like mad. Tarleton Gillespie’s Custodians of the Internet is blazing a trail through the content moderation debate, Mary Gray and Sid Suri’s Ghost Work will be out in May, and my own Playing to the Crowd has hit the road seeking readers.

In that vein, here are some upcoming public events where I will be talking about my book in NYC and its environs:


Monday October 1 @ 3-4 pm: A small book session for people who have read the book (pre-registration required) at Data & Society

Tuesday, October 2nd @ 7 pm: In conversation with Erin McKeown at Rough Trade 

Wednesday October 3 @ 12-1: Colloquium at Columbia University Communications Department, Pulitzer Hall 601B

Wednesday October 3 @ 6-9 pm: In conversation with Clive Thompson at Betaworks (register via the link)

Thursday, October 4 @ 2:50 PM – 4:10 PM: Rutgers School of Communication and Information (New Brunswick NJ)

There will be a few more talks coming up elsewhere (University of Illinois Chicago 11/29, University of Michigan 12/4, London in January, Oslo in February). If you’re interested in inviting me to talk with your folks, shoot me an email.

Hope to meet some of you there!