Imperfect world

’Imperfect world’ is a series of conversations exploring exploring where politics, society, and technology meet. Hosted by Japan-based scholar, Dr Christopher Hobson.

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Episodes

6 days ago

In this episode, Chris and Pete welcome Guillaume Pitron, an investigative journalist who has been uncovering and examining the material realities of the unceasing advance of digital technologies, most notably through a pair of books: The Rare Metals War (La Guerre des métaux rares) and The Dark Cloud (L’Enfer numérique). 
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com 

Wednesday Mar 13, 2024

Continuing the conversation with Pete Chambers, this time recorded in-person during a trip to Australia in February 2024.
Central to our conversation is the issue of scale, together we think through logics of consumption, transport, travel as they get scaled up and expanded, conditions in which ‘quantity has a quality all its own’.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.

Friday Dec 08, 2023

In this episode, Christopher Hobson continues his dialogue with Pete Chambers. 
The starting point for this conversation is Naomi Klein’s thought-provoking new book, Doppelganger. Using frames of mirrors, shadows and others, Klein manages to capture something about the deeply weird and warped relations that now prevail between online and the real / ‘real’ world. This serves as a prompt for a wide ranging discussion about how to understand and act in a world in which what is real and what is not blur and bend together, with many of our frames for understanding and seeing being rendered impotent. 
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.

Tuesday Oct 03, 2023

In this episode, Chris and Pete welcome Laleh Khalili, the Al-Qasimi Professor of Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter, for a conversation about her work on the considering the forgotten space of the sea. She has explored these themes most fully in her 2021 book, Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula. 
The structure of the episode is the first 30 minutes is a discussion between Peter Chambers and myself around Khalili’s work, followed by a conversation between Chambers and Khalili.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com 

Tuesday Aug 29, 2023

In this episode, Christopher Hobson continues his dialogue with Pete Chambers. 
The starting point for this conversation is the extreme summer the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing. From there, the discussion moves from how we are individually and collectively (mis)understanding climate change, some of the consequences that come from the responses we are pursuing - notably the emphasis on electric vehicles - as well as the enduring challenge of individual agency in the context of massive systemic forces.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.

Tuesday Jul 11, 2023

In this episode, Christopher Hobson continues his dialogue with Pete Chambers, an Australian scholar based at RMIT University. Building on previous conversations, this exchange circles around some big themes related to the forgotten materiality of our world, the difficulties of late capitalism, the fragility and resilience of our supply chains, the energy inputs that fuel all of these activities, and much more. 
This is the first episode in a new series of conversations to be shared in the second half of 2023.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.

Friday Dec 02, 2022

In this episode, Christopher Hobson continues his dialogue with Australian scholar and writer, PC. The conversation explores how to understand the current moment in reference to institutional entropy, questioning whether polycrisis and other conceptual frames might help us comprehend the changes we are experiencing, and considering parallels and thinkers from fin de siècle Europe.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.

Monday May 16, 2022

In this final episode of the first season of 'Imperfect World', Christopher Hobson speaks again with PC, a scholar and writer based in Melbourne.
Building on their discussion in episode 2, Hobson and PC think about the problem of the world no longer being made to fit humans, and specifically the consequences of our world effectively becoming too fast for us. The conversation revolves around a number of big themes related to narratives and meaning-making, complexity and synthesis, historical registers and the kinds of action they help enable, and much more. This is an open exploration about the challenges of living and making sense of a complex and changing world.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.
This episode has been produced with support from a grant by the Toshiba International Foundation.

Sunday Apr 24, 2022

Christopher Hobson speaks with Andrew Pickering, a leading historian of science, known for his sociological studies of scientific practices and knowledge production in books such as Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics, The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science, and The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future.
In his work, Pickering considers different ways of acting with the world, what he calls ‘dances of agency’ between human and non-human agents. Developing a distinction made by Martin Heidegger in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, Pickering contrasts a logic of ‘enframing’, which is based on control and domination, with a logic of ‘poeisis’, which suggests more open, adaptive and experimental practices. He considers examples such as natural farming and alternate methods for managing soil erosion in Japan, traditions of indigenous fire management in Australia, and adaptive management of dams in Colorado. What these alternate approaches suggest are considered in this conversation, which explores big themes related to agency in the context of unknowability, alternate ways of living and being in the world, and the insights present in non-modern and non-Western traditions.
For more information, imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.
This episode has been produced with support from a grant by the Toshiba International Foundation.

Sunday Apr 17, 2022

Christopher Hobson speaks with Elke Schwarz, a scholar working on the political and ethical implications of digital technologies and autonomous systems. Recently, she has been returning to the insights of Günther Anders, a 20th century thinker who foreshadowed the dangers that come with untethered technological development. Applying Anders' thinking to the present moment, Schwarz reflects that, ‘with contemporary AI, the rift between our products and our moral imagination has become a steep abyss.’ These issues are explored in the conversation, considering them in reference to categories like judgment and responsibility, and reflecting on whether we should be fearful or not.
Langdon Winner once warned that, ‘in the technical realm, we repeatedly enter into a series of social contracts, the terms of which are revealed only after the signing’. The political and ethical consequences of this dynamic form the basis of this discussion with Elke Schwarz.
For more information, visit imperfectnotes.substack.com and christopherhobson.net.
This episode has been produced with support from a grant by the Toshiba International Foundation.

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