Roundups: 15 – 21 June

So much history this week:

1. QR Code History: Evolution of the popular 2D Barcode

Short but thoroughly enjoyable and informative review of the history of the QR code. It’s surreal to think about about technology adoption: the QR code has been around since 1994 but has only been in widespread use over the past handful of years. It really made me wonder what other types of tech that have already been built over the past 2 years but are more or less in holding until other infrastructure (e.g., for the QR code, I’m guessing this was both camera phones and computer vision) become more commercially available.

2. How Giant Ships Are Built

The architectures of giant structures that are more or less hidden from my hyper-urban life are quite fascinating to me in terms of the absolute amount of engineering that goes into building them. That, and the sheer physicality of these structures, which some of these pictures convey really well when you see just a section of a ship being captured and then, even tinier, a human being.

3. an invitation to abolition for the curious sociologist

As a discipline that has had much to say about racism, policing, and incarceration, where do sociologists fit into this new picture, where abolition is not simply a fringe position, but one front-and-center in current debates?


Torres’s claim that most of us (sociologists) have never had to grapple with abolitionist theory indeed holds true for me. This post is really an introduction to abolitionist thinking, something that I’ve yet to touch but am eager to read.

4. On Juneteenth and American Fascism

A double podcast rec: NYT’s The Daily episode on the history and meaning of Juneteenth and it’s particular importance right now, both in the context of the BLM movement and Trump’s decision to hold a rally. This episode is so well complemented with the recent TP Podcast’s episode on American Fascism, which also looks at Juneteenth and compares Fascism in the US with European developments in Italy and Germany after WWI.

5. Political Thinkers in the Modern World

This podcast was really a reflection on TP Podcast’s History of Ideas series, which was also amazingly done. But what I enjoyed about their discussion was a bit towards the end when they started discussing the differences between modern politics and the politics that we’re living in today; and whether we’re currently at an inflection point because so many of the technological advances that we live with today are novel. Perhaps we’ve come to the point where the theories that guide our understanding of the modern state, and what it can and cannot do, are at their limit? I do agree with this, to a certain extent: so much of what defines politics even at the tail end of the 20th century seems unrecognisable and sometimes archaic today, even as it continues to guide the options that we expect to have (e.g., the role of international organisations like the WTO and the IMF, particularly now with the somewhat contradictory lines of rising protectionism & the financial stimulus prompted by covid-19).

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