Dennis Grauel ‣ Rodney
Wurundjeri Country

Rodney is an inky revival departing from Enschede Foundry’s 1920s Verlengde Romaansch series. A warm interpretation of fuzzy junctions at smaller sizes became a trait that other design decisions flowed on from.

Initial versions of Rodney were drawn for Making Sense, a 2019 exhibition in which the group of designers comprising the collective Making Space sought to raise questions such as: “How can we support, rather than compete?”.

Subsequent years have seen gradual revisions to Rodney — Light and Black weights, a redrawn italic, variable fonts — with recent developments neglecting the original source material in favour of a more self-reflexive and imaginitive approach.

Current Version: 2.3
Started: December 2018
Last Update: May 2021

You can download and use this typeface for testing purposes, student work, or explicitly non-commercial, local-scale community organising work. For commercial applications, licenses can be arranged via email.

▤ License Pricing ⤓ Download v2.3
Variable Weight
the birth of numbers and letters is linked to the emergence of agriculture and sedentarization, notably to inventory harvests and cultivable areas…
Algorithmic Culture
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
$42.35
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
{xyz}
98%
Machinery of Government (MOG)
Who is behind the curtain?
20th Century
5. Money for rebuilding the cities. Creation of public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.
fortissimo
Precarity in Design Labour
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
2. How can we learn and share knowledge?
Choir
candlestick
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Lakes District
The Inevitable Rhetorics of Maps
(subtext)
New Urbanism
dust clouds
Variable Italic Weight
New Urbanism
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Quota
Everywhere capitalism developed, peasants and early workers resisted, but were eventually overcome by mass terror and violence.
fortissimo
$36 @ $2.40ea.
the birth of numbers and letters is linked to the emergence of agriculture and sedentarization, notably to inventory harvests and cultivable areas…
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
Lakes District
Cigar Trade
Precarity in Design Labour
2. How can we learn and share knowledge?
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
No. 10
Machinery of Government (MOG)
abolish monarchy
98%
Boron & Argon
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
5. Money for rebuilding the cities. Creation of public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.
Light
Choir
2. How can we learn and share knowledge?
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
Lakes District
candlestick
Sforzando
$42.35
FELLOW WORKERS, WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles.
Obsequiousness
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
Consider James Bridle’s A Ship Adrift (2012). Using a website updated on a daily basis, Bridle reconstructs the journey of a navigator adrift.
#7031
dust clouds
Quota
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
Who is behind the curtain?
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
98%
The Inevitable Rhetorics of Maps
No. 10
abolish monarchy
$36 @ $2.40ea.
Boron & Argon
$12 Goon Bag
Regular
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
$42.35
Obsequiousness
fortissimo
abolish monarchy
(subtext)
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
Dear
{xyz}
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
Lakes District
Boron & Argon
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
Texts
Sforzando
Unionisation and working conditions
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
Who is behind the curtain?
candlestick
dust clouds
Machinery of Government (MOG)
Cigar Trade
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
Medium
5. Money for rebuilding the cities. Creation of public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.
Building communities of practice ❤
Dear
Sforzando
$42.35
abolish monarchy
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
Consider James Bridle’s A Ship Adrift (2012). Using a website updated on a daily basis, Bridle reconstructs the journey of a navigator adrift.
dust clouds
$12 Goon Bag
METADATA
Obsequiousness
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
At its root, capitalism is an economic system based on three things: wage labour (working for a wage), private ownership of the means of production (things like factories, machinery, farms, and offices), and production for exchange and profit.
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
Quota
Who is behind the curtain?
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
{xyz}
Bold
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
Cigar Trade
Obsequiousness
Everywhere capitalism developed, peasants and early workers resisted, but were eventually overcome by mass terror and violence.
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
4, 3, 2, 1
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
$42.35
Precarity in Design Labour
Texts
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
$12 Goon Bag
5. Money for rebuilding the cities. Creation of public works brigades to rebuild inner city areas, made up of community residents.
2. How can we learn and share knowledge?
{xyz}
$36 @ $2.40ea.
candlestick
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
No. 10
Boron & Argon
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
METADATA
Our work is the basis of this society. And it is the fact that this society relies on the work we do, while at the same time always squeezing us to maximise profit, that makes it vulnerable.
Algorithmic Culture
Black
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
FELLOW WORKERS, WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles.
Lakes District
fortissimo
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
Boron & Argon
New Urbanism
At its root, capitalism is an economic system based on three things: wage labour (working for a wage), private ownership of the means of production (things like factories, machinery, farms, and offices), and production for exchange and profit.
Algorithmic Culture
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
Unionisation and working conditions
(subtext)
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
Precarity in Design Labour
4, 3, 2, 1
Building communities of practice ❤
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
$12 Goon Bag
candlestick
Dear
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
98%
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Light Italic
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
Machinery of Government (MOG)
#7031
Building communities of practice ❤
Sforzando
Boron & Argon
{xyz}
20th Century
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
98%
dust clouds
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
(subtext)
No. 10
How can we facilitate critical learning outside of – or in between – tertiary education and commercial practice?
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Choir
the birth of numbers and letters is linked to the emergence of agriculture and sedentarization, notably to inventory harvests and cultivable areas…
Algorithmic Culture
fortissimo
Our work is the basis of this society. And it is the fact that this society relies on the work we do, while at the same time always squeezing us to maximise profit, that makes it vulnerable.
Lakes District
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
Regular Italic
The Aesthetics of Protest
Sforzando
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
Boron & Argon
$36 @ $2.40ea.
Who is behind the curtain?
Precarity in Design Labour
No. 10
FELLOW WORKERS, WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles.
(subtext)
Texts
20th Century
candlestick
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
Quota
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
$12 Goon Bag
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
Consider James Bridle’s A Ship Adrift (2012). Using a website updated on a daily basis, Bridle reconstructs the journey of a navigator adrift.
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
Machinery of Government (MOG)
abolish monarchy
$42.35
Medium Italic
fortissimo
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
Precarity in Design Labour
The Aesthetics of Protest
20th Century
ATALANTA v. INTER MILAN
No. 10
Cigar Trade
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
abolish monarchy
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
candlestick
Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality?
{xyz}
Dear
Who is behind the curtain?
New Urbanism
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
⚠ DWYL [Do What You Love] is a secreet handshake of the privilaged and a worldview that disguises its elitsim as noble self-betterment —Miya Tokumitsu (2014)
98%
$36 @ $2.40ea.
(subtext)
Consider James Bridle’s A Ship Adrift (2012). Using a website updated on a daily basis, Bridle reconstructs the journey of a navigator adrift.
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
Bold Italic
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
20th Century
Precarity in Design Labour
fortissimo
Texts
Lakes District
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
Our work is the basis of this society. And it is the fact that this society relies on the work we do, while at the same time always squeezing us to maximise profit, that makes it vulnerable.
Quota
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
#7031
Obsequiousness
Ultimately, only struggle determines outcome, and progress towards a more meaningful community must begin with the will to resist every form of injustice.
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
{xyz}
4, 3, 2, 1
the birth of numbers and letters is linked to the emergence of agriculture and sedentarization, notably to inventory harvests and cultivable areas…
Dear
Who is behind the curtain?
How can we facilitate critical learning outside of – or in between – tertiary education and commercial practice?
$42.35
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
98%
Boron & Argon
Black Italic
Boron & Argon
❝ How can we support, rather than compete?
candlestick
Lakes District
#7031
Consider James Bridle’s A Ship Adrift (2012). Using a website updated on a daily basis, Bridle reconstructs the journey of a navigator adrift.
Choir
George Méliès Cinema, Montreuil
Unionisation and working conditions
{xyz}
Much the same as with the critical assessment of cartography, the field of graphic design began to question the modernist dogmas that had shaped the field.
The Inevitable Rhetorics of Maps
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8F
The Aesthetics of Protest
Quota
Capitalism is based on a simple process—money is invested to generate more money.
METADATA
Towards a Machinic Creolization?
Sforzando
Obsequiousness
FELLOW WORKERS, WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles.
No. 10
Both bosses and workers, therefore, are alienated by this process, but in different ways.
Texts
A scanned paragraph of text from a 1923 Dutch type specimen, which served as reference material for the typeface Rodney, drawn for this exhibition.
Verlengde Romaansch, Enschede Letterproef, 1923. Image courtesy Vincent Chan.
An exhibition interior: a large room with black vinyl floor, white walls, high ceiling and large windows. Space is divided into zones with large suspended posters featuring the numbers 2 and 3. Smaller posters in the room have black text on orange paper. 2 people are sitting at a table and working on laptops.
Image from Making Sense exhibition, March 2019.
A table is positioned by a large window. On the table are loose pages from the Reader. On the wall next to the table is a poster reading: ‘2. How can we learn and share knowledge?’
A self assembly station for the Making Sense Reader, a pick and mix selection of readings that could be bound with document fasteners
A large wooden frame leans against a wall in the exhibition space, holding copies of the Making Sense catalogue. 2 people stand in front, browsing
The Making Sense catalogue on display in the exhibition space
An over the shoulder view of a person binding their copy of the Reader using document fasteners
The Making Sense Reader, a collection of readings that visitors could self-assemble
An over the shoulder view of a person binding their copy of the Reader using document fasteners
The Making Sense Reader, a collection of readings that visitors could self-assemble
A scan of the front cover of the Making Sense catalogue. The publication is A5 sized, with a white cover and black text with the name of the exhibition in a dated, inky looking serif font. The catalogue is bound with bright orange spiral binding.
The Making Sense catalogue
A spread from the Making Sense catalogue, with paragraphs of text.
Spread from Making Sense catalogue
A spread from the Making Sense catalogue, showing a chapter opening page which uses orange paper and features an abstract map of the exhibition space. The chapter pertains to one zone within the space, which is highlighted in solid black on the map.
Chapters in the catalogue pertained to each zone of the exhibition space.
A spread from the Making Sense catalogue, showing an orange chapter opening page with black text which reads: ‘1. How can we make together?’
Spread from Making Sense catalogue
Light 16px

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

Indigenous struggles against capitalism and imperialism are often struggles orientated around land. As Maaori, we base our rela- tionship with land on reciprocity, physically and ethically com- mitting ourselves to land through a just and sustainable give and take. We even refer to ourselves as ‘tangata whenua’— ‘tangata’ meaning people and ‘whenua’ meaning land as well as placenta — physically situating our bodies as being of the land. When we re- call our pepeha, a traditional introduction, we present ourselves as long dead ancestors, as a river or ocean and as a mountain. ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au’ (I am the land and the land is me), to quote an ancient proverb. This is our ontology of the world, one where land and people are one and the same — and it differs dramatically from a Western ontology where the Cartesian split separates the immaterial from the material, the natural from the built and the human from the non-human.

Where Western societies tend to derive meaning from the world in developmental terms, centring linear time and its progression (for good or ill) in their account of the world, Indigenous ontologies tend to place land at the centre of their understandings. This distinction between the West’s prioritisation of time and Indigenous people’s prioritisation of place emphasises, first, Indigenous people’s attachment to their land, and second, their ontological framework for understanding relationships. We understand each other through our respective relationships to land. My Aunty Tai, for example, would recount stories about her great-grandfather as though he were alive, like a mountain still standing or a river in flow. This is another way of saying that a Maaori ontology rejects the Cartesian split — there is no distinction between the human and non-human — and instead we understand our place in the world through our relationship to Papatuuaanuku, the earth, and Ranginui, the sky.

This is why colonisation is more than ‘land loss’ for Maaori — it’s a loss of our entire being. This relationship between land and people isn’t something you can categorise or place within monetary value systems and so you can never adequately compensate for its loss. If you take our land, you take a part of us. No compensation or ‘settlement’ can rightfully restore the mana of this land. No monetary value can be placed on it. This is why we are anti-Treaty of Waitangi ‘settlements’. Our bodies’ karanga tell in chants the stories of our migration, our ontological relationship to the Pacific and the land, and to our ancestors who held the land, cared for it and had it taken from them.

New Zealand was the last major landmass on Earth that humans settled. The first European to discover ‘New Zealand’ was Dutch ‘explorer’ Abel Tasman in 1642, the former Dutch East India Company captain exploring the vast Pacific in search of either ‘Terra Australis’ or a sea passage from the Pacific to Chile. But like Te Whenua Moemoeaa, or Australia, New Zealand was eventually colonised by the British, with Captain James Cook and his syphilis-ridden crew aboard the HMS Endeavour making first contact for the English-speaking world more than a century later in 1769. Again, as in Te Whenua Moemoeā, Cook left a lasting imprint on the national consciousness, naming coastal and inland landmarks and, of course, designating various landmarks in his own name.

The initial interactions between hapuu, the primary social units in Maaori society, and European powers were tentative, with small skirmishes taking place at various points in the years leading up to 1840. But these collisions of culture would eventually give way to hapuu hopes for an exchange of ideas, technology and commerce. Contact with Paakehaa (or Europeans) exposed Maaori to new technologies for land production and between 1800 and 1850 the agricultural and horticultural base of Maaori expanded as hapuu added new crops like wheat and potatoes to their plantations. Ancient inter-hapuu trade networks flourished, extending all the way to Australia and California. While this expansion was occurring, Maaori continued to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over their resources in order to protect Papatuuaanuku.

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What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

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A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

A promise is something that is put forward. It involves intent and expectation. It is a performative speech act: an utterance that, hopefully, does what it says. A promise is fulfilled when an intended future, now become past, finally aligns with the present. That’s when the speech act meets its condition of felicity.

What kind of promise (from now on simply “the Promise”) does design education involve? Does that relate to the present of education or to the future of work? What are the forces that shape it? How is it fulfilled and by whom? Who has the authority to sanction its fulfillment? Let us consider educational promises in general. First, they are not unilateral but reciprocal. It is not just the promisor, namely the school organization, in cooperation with or in opposition to the market and society, that is supposed to fulfill it (“We’ll give you knowledge, skills and a space to develop them”), but the individual promisee as well, the student, as they guarantee effort and participation (“I’ll make it worthwhile”).

Things get easily complicated because the Promise is not unambiguously formulated—there is no clear contract—and yet it looms over the promisee, functioning both as encouragement and threat. It can be rooted in notions like success, career, self-realization, ambition, autonomy… But, it can also aim at redefining them. It is affected by geography, class, race and gender. It comes in multiple shapes and forms and yet it can be understood as a whole. Does the Promise resemble a vow, an oath, a resolution, a mission? Is it as nebulous and frail as the American dream? In the design field things get even more complicated, as the field itself is in perennial reconfiguration: it experiences a constant identity crisis, some might say, fueling the personal identity crisis of practitioners.

To focus on the Promise means bridging preexisting societal conditions—such as employability, welfare, housing availability, discrimination, mobility, privilege—with socialized professional and personal aspirations—lifestyle, institutional roles, legacies of crafts, research trends, urgent matters, subcultures, notions of virtuosity… In other words, the Promise is built on some premises, at once materialistic and idealistic. When there is no full alignment between a promise and its premises, the promisee feels like they are compromising. From this a question arises: who is defaulting when the Promise is not fulfilled? And what can be claimed as compensation?

Recognizing the Promise means foregrounding intimate confessions, atmospheric peer pressures, individual anguishes, tacit dissatisfactions, concrete limitations, but also creating hacks, finding new paths, imagining different ways of living and working. It means reflecting on the design field’s linguistic tics and automatisms (such as working “at the intersection of”) in order to forge new vocabularies and approaches. It means designing new alignments of personal goals, collective aspirations and societal conditions.

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I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

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I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

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In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

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I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

I remember being nervous when I flew into Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Before boarding the flight, one of the business managers who organized the trip sent me a message with precise instructions on how to navigate the local airport:

Once you land, get into the bus on the right side of the driver. This side opens to the terminal. Pass through immigration, pick up your luggage, and go through Customs. The flight crew will pass out white migration cards. Fill them out, and keep it with your passport. You will need to carry these documents on you at all times once you’ve landed.

Another coworker, who had flown in the night before, warned us not to worry if we found ourselves in jail. Don’t panic if you find yourself in jail. Give me a call and we’ll bail you out. Maybe she was joking.

The flight itself was uncanny. I was flying in from Frankfurt, but it felt a lot like a local American flight to somewhere in the Midwest. The plane was filled with middle-aged American businessmen equipped with black Lenovo laptops and baseball caps. The man next to me wore a cowboy-esque leather jacket over a blue-collared business shirt.

After I landed in Atyrau’s single-gate airport, I located my driver, who was holding a card with my name on it. He swiftly led me into a seven-seater Mercedes van and drove me to my hotel, one of the only hotels in the city. Everyone from the flight also seemed to stay there. The drive was short. The city was overwhelmingly gray. Most of it was visibly poor. The hotel was an oasis of wealth.

Across from the hotel was another one of these oases: a gated community with beige bungalows. This was presumably where the expats who worked for Chevron lived. There was a Burger King and a KFC within walking distance. Everyone spoke a bit of English.

Security was taken extremely seriously. Each time we entered one of Chevron’s offices, our passports were checked, our bags were inspected, and our bodies were patted down. Video cameras were mounted on the ceilings of the hallways and conference rooms. We were instructed to travel only using Chevron’s fleet of taxis, which were wired up with cameras and mics.

All of this — Atyrau’s extreme security measures and the steady flow of American businesspeople — comes from the fact that the city is home to Kazakhstan’s biggest and most important oil extraction project. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newly independent nation opened its borders to foreign investment. Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company agreed to partner with Chevron in a joint venture to extract oil.

The project was named Tengizchevroil, or TCO for short, and it was granted an exclusive forty-year right to the Tengiz oil field near Atyrau. Tengiz carries roughly 26 billion barrels of oil, making it one of the largest fields in the world. Chevron has poured money into the joint venture with the goal of using new technology to increase oil production at the site. And I, a Microsoft engineer, was sent there to help. 

Despite the climate crisis that our planet faces, Big Oil is doubling down on fossil fuels. At over 30 billion barrels of crude oil a year, production has never been higher. Now, with the help of tech companies like Microsoft, oil companies are using cutting-edge technology to produce even more. 

The collaboration between Big Tech and Big Oil might seem counterintuitive. Culturally, who could be further apart? Moreover, many tech companies portray themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability. They try to out-do each other in their support for green initiatives. But in reality, Big Tech and Big Oil are closely linked, and only getting closer. 

The foundation of their partnership is the cloud. Cloud computing, like many of today’s online subscription services, is a way for companies to rent servers, as opposed to purchasing them. (This model is more specifically called the public cloud.) It’s like choosing to rent a movie on iTunes for $2.99 instead of buying the DVD for $14.99. In the old days, a company would have to run its website from a server that it bought and maintained itself. By using the cloud, that same company can outsource its infrastructure needs to a cloud provider. 

The market is dominated by Amazon’s cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), which now makes up more than half of all of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has grown fast: in 2014, its revenue was $4.6 billion; in 2019, it is set to surpass $36 billion. So many companies run on AWS that when one of its most popular services went down briefly in 2017, it felt like the entire internet stopped working. 

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In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

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In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

In the last years, much has been written on the Facebook Like Economy, on the grassroots genealogy of the Twitter hashtag, on the formation of a narcissistic subjectivity on Instagram. During this period, LinkedIn has been almost completely ignored. In the Social Media Reader, published in 2012, it is not even mentioned once. In the Unlike Us Reader, published the year after and focused on possible alternatives, LinkedIn appears five times, but only as a fleeting example. Unlike generalist social media, LinkedIn has a specific focus, the world of professionals. However, it is a platform where it’s possible to identify , both in its interface, its communication and its origins, some latent dynamicsthat presently orient social media and, therefore, society at large. This is what makes it unique and therefore valuable in the current social media landscape. In this essay, I discuss LinkedIn’s unique functionalities, rhetorics and principles.

What is the usefulness of LinkedIn, an online professional network mostly known for its spammy email techniques? In the creative industries, while most people have an account, no one seems to actually use it. As a communication tool, it is mainly experienced in a passive way. Furthermore, none of my peers seem to believe in LinkedIn as a way to land a job. However, when one is faced with unemployment, a glossy portfolio may not be enough anymore. I experienced it myself: as soon as I started to feel anxious about my job situation, I religiously followed LinkedIn’s automatic suggestions to improve my profile. Creative workers approach LinkedIn with the same skepticism that they have towards the bureaucratic strictness of the Europass curriculum vitae format, yet the platform provides a feeble hope in times of job search despair.

Does the abundance of doubts on its actual usefulnessmake LinkedIn irrelevant ? Is the daily use of an online platform the only indicator of its cultural significance? Regardless of its supposed inertia, LinkedIn subtly reminds us of the pervasive regime of both online and away-from-keyboard professional networking. In a series of modified vignettes, graphic designer Frank Chimero showed that the standard Linkedin invitation —”Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”— might function as a universal caption for The New Yorker‘s cartoon. In Chimero’s appropriations, we see people pronouncing that phrase in any kind of social situation, like for instance in bed. These revised cartoons are poignant because we instinctively recognize the way in which professional networking permeates our lives. In this perspective, the very existence of LinkedIn appears paradoxical, since it assures us that work and life are distinct spheres. According to its CEO Jeff Weiner (2016), 80% of LinkedIn users want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. LinkedIn is thus more than a series of networked résumés. It functions both as a symbol and a platform that displays, enacts, and somehow exacerbates the social dynamics of work ethic.

Preceding Facebook by one year, LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman together with some colleagues from Social Net and PayPal. During the last thirteen years, 450 million users signed up for LinkedIn, a third of Facebook’s user base. As the technology writer Evelyn Rusli (2013) points out, LinkedIn was seen as “the ugly duckling of social media” by investors, because of its hybrid business model, and “your mom’s or your dad’s network” by users, probably because of its corporate allure.

However, things have changed in the last years. Not only more young professionals joined LinkedIn, but, according to Jeff Weiner (2014), users now tend to keep their profile constantly updated, rather than adding new experiences only when looking for a job. One could say that this shift, instead of representing a deeper commitment to the platform, merely reflects the extreme flexibility and the demand for relentless improvement that these young professionals have to face.

LinkedIn’s mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, is accompanied by an ambitious vision for the future that is epitomized by the company’s Economic Graph. The idea is simple: LinkedIn wants to create and manage the profile of each of the estimated three billions members of the global workforce, together with the profiles of every existing company, every available job, every required skill, and every institution that can provide these skills. Presented as a response to the steady rise of unemployment, the Economic Graph renders any kind of relationship as an economic exchange between economic agents. It visually embodies the neoliberal paradigm.

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What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

In describing the problem of how students have become the problem, I analyze some recent writings that seem to be concerned with distinct issues even if they all address the demise of higher education and involve a kind of nostalgia for something that has been, or is being, lost. I have made the decision to quote from these texts without citing the authors by name. I wish to treat each text as an instance in a wider intertextual web and thus to depersonalise the material. Some of these texts do cite each other, and by evoking the figure of the problem student (who travels through this terrain with an accumulating pace and velocity) they all participate in the making of a shared world.

The “problem student” is a constellation of related figures: the consuming student, the censoring student, the over-sensitive student, and the complaining student. By considering how these figures are related we can explore connections that are being made through them, connections between, for example, neoliberalism in higher education, a concern with safe spaces, and the struggle against sexual harassment. These connections are being made without being explicitly articulated. We need to make these connections explicit in order to challenge them. This is what “against students” is really about.

One of my concerns in Willful Subjects was with the politics of dismissal. I was interested in how various points of view can be dismissed by being swept away or swept up by the charge of willfulness. So: What protesters are protesting about can be ignored when protesters are assumed to be suffering from too much will; they are assumed to be opposing something because they are being oppositional. The figures of the consuming student, censoring student, over-sensitive student, and complaining student are also doing something, they are up to something. These figures circulate in order to sweep something up. Different student protests can be dismissed as products of weaknesses of moral character (generated by “student culture” or “campus politics”) and as the cause of a more general decline in values and standards.

Let’s begin with critiques of neoliberalism and higher education. These are critiques I would share. I too would be critical of how universities are managed as businesses; I too would be critical of the transformation of education into a commodity; of how students are treated as consumers. I too am aware of the burdens of bureaucracy and how we can end up pushing paper around just to leave a trail.

Critiques of neoliberalism can also involve a vigorous sweeping: Whatever is placed near the object of critique becomes the object of critique. For example, my empirical research into the university’s new equality regime taught me how equality can be dismissed as a symptom of neo-liberalism, as “just another” mechanism for ensuring academic compliance. UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality Theresa May justified a withdrawal from some of the stated commitments in the 2010 Equality Act by arguing the law “would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. It would have meant more time filling in forms and less time focusing on policies that will make a real difference to people’s life chances.” The practitioners I researched in On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life talked of how academics use similar arguments: that these forms and procedures are just another “box to be ticked,” in order to dismiss the more general relevance of equality to their work (“a real difference”). They can then enact non-compliance with equality as a form of resistance to bureaucracy. Equality becomes something imposed by management, as what would, if taken seriously, constrain life and labor. Whilst we might want to critique how equality is bureaucratized, we need to challenge how that very critique can be used to dismiss equality.