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The 20th Century was the epoch of mass production, mass communication, and mass movements. But ours is the era of collaborative production and interactive media. What are the new forms of public assembly when organizing cannot be separated from the organization of the digital interface?

PowerPoint in Public: Digital Technologies and the New Morphology of Demonstration

This paper examines the use of PowerPoint to make demonstrations in the public arena. Our first set of demonstrations are the PowerPoint presentations in December 2002 by the seven finalist architectural teams in the Innovative Design competition for rebuilding the World Trade Center. Our second case occurred some blocks away, several months later: Colin Powell's PowerPoint demonstration at the United Nations. We argue that Edward Tufte's denunciation of PowerPoint does not capture the cognitive style made possible by this pervasive new technology.

Theory, Culture & Society 2008, 25(5):31-56.

Socio-technologies of Assembly: Sense-making and Demonstration in Rebuilding Lower Manhattan

Drawing on Science and Technology Studies, Monique Girard and I propose that forms of public assemby vary as distinct combinations of social networks, technologies, and protocols. The key technologies of a public hearing, for example, are a microphone and a stopwatch, combined with rules for who can speak and for how long.

Governance and Information: The Rewiring of Governing and Deliberation in the 21st Century. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Satisfaction Guaranteed: Malls and Megachurches

Is it a mall or is it a church? This question could be asked of almost any of the images in this photo essay. The answer, in every case, is that the photos, taken by my son Ben Stark, are of megachurches in Oklahoma City. The opportunity for our research was the centenial anniversary of Max Weber's essay, "Church and Sect in North America," for which Weber conducted field research in Oklahoma during his visit to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. In examining the architecture of megachurches that are deliberately built to resemble shopping malls, we explore changes that have occurred in the relationship between evangelical Protestantism and the spirit of capitalism.

Rooted Transnational Publics: Integrating Foreign Ties and Civic Activism

In the literature on globalization there is a widespread belief that civic associations with transnational ties are uprooted from their domestic societies. Laszlo Bruszt, Balazs Vedres, and I contend that there is not a forced choice between foreign ties and domestic integration. In fact, we find that transnational organizations are more domestically integrated than those without such ties. We base our argument on a survey of 1,002 of the largest civic organizations which we conducted in Hungary. We specify several forms of domestic integration and several forms of transnational ties. By demonstrating a systematic relationship between the patterns of foreign ties and the patterns of domestic integration, we chart three emerging forms of transnational publics.

Theory and Society 2006 35(3):323-349.

On Resilience

This commentary reviews key themes posed in a special ssue of the journal, Social Sciences, and points to open questions. For example, does resilience in socio-technical systems degrade with use or, like immune systems, is resilience upgraded with use? Similarly, is resilience about responding in the face of the rare event? Or, is it being prepared for the rare event? cIs it useful to think about the evolution of resilience? What are the risks posed by models of risk? cThat is, do models to reduce vulnerability to risk, increase vulnerability? What is the role of reflexivity in the analysis of resilience?

Social Science 2014, 3, 60–70; doi:10.3390/socsci3010060.

From Dissonance to Resonance: Cognitive Interdependence in Quantitative Finance

How do traders deal with the fallibility of their models? The answer, Daniel Beunza and I show in this ethnographic study of an arbitrage trading room is to use devices for dissonance that disrupt the taken-for-granted and prompt them to reconsider the assumptions built into their databases. Warning: the same socio-technical networks of reflexive modeling that are a source for correction can also lead to the amplification of error.

Economy and Society, 2012, 41(3):1-35.