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Category Archives: Recommended Books

When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm

London Review of Book, Laleh Khalili – “When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe. Bodley Head, 354 pp., £20, October, 978 1 84792 625 8: “…Bogdanich and Forsythe’s​ book is a damning account of the way McKinsey has made workplaces unsafe, ditched consumer protections, disembowelled regulatory agencies, ravaged health and social care organisations, plundered public institutions, hugely reduced workforces and increased worker exploitation. It begins with an account of McKinsey-driven cost-cutting at US Steel, which led to the deaths of two steelworkers. Similar measures at Disney resulted in a young man being crushed to death on the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster. Decades after the consequences of smoking became clear, McKinsey continued to work for the big tobacco producers. As the extent of the US opioid epidemic became apparent, McKinsey advised Purdue Pharma to find ‘growth pockets’ where OxyContin could be more easily prescribed, and lobbied regulators for laxer rules on prescriptions. McKinsey’s unethical activities pack the pages of this book, while its supercilious vocabulary of ‘values’ and ‘service’ runs like an oil slick over slurry.

The primary product sold by all management consultants – both software developers and strategic organisers – is the theology of capital. This holds that workers are expendable. They can be replaced by machines, or by harder-working employees grateful they weren’t let go in the last round of redundancies. Managers are necessary to the functioning of corporations – or universities, or non-profit organisations – and the more of them the better. Long working hours and bootstrap entrepreneurialism are what give meaning to life. Meritocracies are a real thing. Free trade, laissez-faire capitalism and reduced regulation are necessary stepping stones towards the free market utopia… A US government website records the number of federal contracts given to various contractors. For some consulting firms, the trajectory of spending has risen steadily since 2009. The graph showing McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen Hamilton contracts spikes during the Trump administration. The Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon paid all three firms lavishly for ‘engaging human-centred design’, developing a ‘culture of continuous improvement’ and other meaningless bits of management-speak festooned with cryptic acronyms. In many cases, the contracts are labelled ‘solicitation only one source’, meaning that no rival bids were sought. Two contracts with the US government procurement agency, the General Services Administration, which earned McKinsey $1 billion between 2006 and 2019, had to be terminated because the company refused to submit to an audit…”

Data Cartels

Data Cartels The Companies That Control and Monopolize Our Information. Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law: “In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated… Continue Reading

Restating the Law in the Shadow of Codes: The ALI in Its Formative Era, in The American Law Institute at 100: A Centennial History

DeMott, Deborah, Restating the Law in the Shadow of Codes: The ALI in Its Formative Era, in The American Law Institute at 100: A Centennial History (Andrew S. Gold & Robert W. Gordon eds) forthcoming 2023, Oxford University Press (August 28, 2022). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2022-53, Available at… Continue Reading

Book Review – A Sober Look at the ‘Cartoonishly Chaotic’ Trump White House

The New York Times: “In The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, political journalists keep their cool as they chronicle the outrageous conduct and ugly infighting that marked a presidency like no other. If “The Divider” has a dominant theme, it may be the struggle within the “almost… Continue Reading

A Prehistory of Social Media

Driscoll, Kevin. “A Prehistory of Social Media.” Issues in Science and Technology 38, no. 4 (Summer 2022): 20–23. “The standard account of internet history took shape in the early 1990s, as a mixture of commercial online services, university networks, and local community networks mutated into something bigger, more commercial, and more accessible to the general… Continue Reading

Why you (probably) won’t finish reading this story

Vox: “We live in a distracted world, almost certainly the most distracted world in human history. And if you’re part of this circus, you’re drowning in options and gadgets and screens and you’re being pulled in a million directions seemingly all at once. If you spend any time online, you already know this. You’re constantly… Continue Reading

The Propagandists’ Playbook How Conservative Elites Manipulate Search and Threaten Democracy

“The Propagandists’ Playbook by Francesca Bolla Tripodi, assistant professor at the School of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a research affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute. “The Propagandists’ Playbook peels back the layers of the right-wing media manipulation machine to reveal why its strategies are so… Continue Reading

There is a lot of antisemitic hate speech on social media—and algorithms are partly to blame

Fast Company: “Antisemitic incidents have shown a sharp rise in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based Jewish civil rights group that has been tracking cases since 1979, found that there were 2,717 incidents in 2021. This represents an increase of 34% over 2020. In Europe, the European Commission found a sevenfold increase in… Continue Reading

Law and Artificial Intelligence

Law and Artificial Intelligence – Regulating AI and Applying AI in Legal Practice, Bart Custers, Eduard Fosch-Villaronga Provides an in-depth overview of what is currently happening in the field of Law and Artificial Intelligence Facilitates the understanding of how future developments in AI may raise legal concerns Gives an insight into how we may address… Continue Reading

Russia in the Age of Climate Change

Klimat – Russia in the Age of Climate Change, Thane Gustafson: “A discerning analysis of the future effects of climate change on Russia, the major power most dependent on the fossil fuel economy. Russia will be one of the countries most affected by climate change. No major power is more economically dependent on the export… Continue Reading