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COP15 and modernizing China

Much seem to be at stake at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15), but as week one of two neares its end, little progress has been made. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that what's at stake is not only political and economical interests. Also, the status of science is debated: What are trustworthy data? To what extent can scientific evidence overrule political procedures?

As Latour might say, scientific facts are a result of the stabilization of contested knowledge. The belief in pure science is a mistake of the modernists and this has never been reality in Europe. China, he is known to argue, are on the other hand trying more than anyone to modernize these days.

This was evident during their side event presentation on the fourth day of the COP15. Presenting a panel of the preeminent Chinese scholars on climate change, the first power point slide stressed: "no politics, no diplomats, pure academic perspective".

Most will probably consider this a…

Social Media in Plain English by Common Craft

When will Ben&Jerry's start selling personal table-size ice cream factories?

This video neatly straps down three major points about the economic effects of social media (says my professor at Copenhagen Business School):

1) Products get better without added costs because feedback is free and high-quality
2) Viral marketing is cheaper than adds
3) Customization leads to better services

Now, how does this affect sociology? Whereas the latter 2 points might not bring more than manipulation and fragmentation to the table, the first point seem truly valuable: Are we witnessing the early materialization of an aggregated common will? Are social media getting us closer to a range of ice cream flavours that everyone think is reasonable? That's the question.

Notes from a morning seminar with Bruno Latour in Copenhagen

French sociologist of associations, Bruno Latour, seem to have finally caught a level of buzz, where he is payed more than moderate attention when visiting a city. Today at Copenhagen Business School, there's a waiting list for his Friday afternoon lecture, despite the fact that the auditorium holds almost 500 people. A few, mostly PhD students, got a head start this morning, however, when they filled a much smaller room to spend 2 hours with Latour in an interactive seminar. I was lucky enough to get a seat and thought I would share a few hand-written notes here. After all, the 'net' in the title of this blog is just as inspired by the net in Actor-Network-Theory as it is inspired by the net in internet. And the possible connections between these two nets was actually something that Latour touched upon:

"The possibilities of traceability has changed - (internet) data is uniquely adequate with ANT. You don't have to choose between the individual element and the agg…

Next step: The UN decides that the empowerment of an iPhone is a human right?

"Starting next July, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection, says the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Finland is the world's first country to create laws guaranteeing broadband access. The government had already decided to make a 100 Mb broadband connection a legal right by the end of 2015. On Wednesday, the Ministry announced the new goal as an intermediary step. Some variation will be allowed, if connectivity can be arranged through mobile phone networks."
Source: YLE.fi

Chinese leader: Greening China takes democracy

Trying to understand what goes on inside the heads of the Chinese is a major passtime in the Western corridors of power these days. One questions, perhaps, looms above all other: Will democracy eventually find her place in the land in the middle? After all, dealing with non-democracies is ever so much more unpredictable, and thus uncomfortable.

As it happens, the globally recognized Chinese Law Professor Wang Canfa does not hesitate to speak of the need for democratic reform in his home country when he travels the world. On the contrary, he draws a simple and obvious line between democratic shortfall and environmental disaster. One example, taken from his talk at McGill University on June 2nd: If local Chinese leaders are measured on their performance in terms of economic growth only, they have absolutely no interest in listening to the complaints of suffering farmers, whom they again is in no way answerable to. Wang Canfa is trying to change damaging mechanism by facilitating the actu…