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The Sociotechnocanonicon Great Books Discussion Series allows members of the CDSC to build their familiarity with some of the classic works which are foundational to the collective's research program.

The discussions are open to all, and facilitated by senior members of CDSC in order to introduce the broader context of the work. Meetings are held in person and aired over Jitsi for remote participation. Themes we often try to cover including collective action, social movements, participatory-democracy, networks, sociomateriality, sociotechnical systems, and cooperation.

This page covers the Summer 2021 version of the reading group. Links to previous years are at the bottom of the page.


Wednesdays at 1pm pacific, 3pm central (except for week 1).
Place (see CommunityData:Jitsi for call in numbers and such)


Week 1 (June 21-25)
Douglass North's Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance Part I: Institutions -- Friday at noon Pacific, 2pm Central
Week 2 (June 28-July 2)
Douglass North's Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance Part II: Institutional Change & Part III: Economic Performance Wednesday at 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central.
Week 3 (July 7) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation Parts I - III; Wednesday at .
Week 4 (July 14) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Axelrod Parts IV and V.
Week 5 (July 21) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Michael Polanyi's The Tacit Dimension, credited with the notion of wikipedia:Tacit_Knowledge
Week 6 (July 28) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Jenna Bednar's A Robust Federation Chapters 1-4 (we're assuming most folks will skip/skim the mathematical appendixes)
Week 7 (August 4) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Jenna Bednar's A Robust Federation Chapters 5-8
Week 8 (August 10) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (the whole book!)
Week 9 (August 18) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Margaret Levi On Rule and Revenue Chapters 1-4
Week 10 (August 25) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Margaret Levi On Rule and Revenue Chapters 1-3 (if you didn't finish), at least one of 4-7, and 8
Week 11 (September 1) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Pamela Oliver and Gerald Marwell's Critical Mass in Collective Action Chapters 1-4 (pg 1-100) on "The critical mass and the problem of collective action"; "Building blocks: goods, groups, and processes"; "The paradox of group size"; and "The dynamics of production functions"
Week 12 (September 8) 1pm Pacific, 3pm Central
Pamela Oliver and Gerald Marwell's Critical Mass in Collective Action Chapter 5-8 (pg 101-193) on "Social networks: density, centralization, and cliques"; "Selectivity in social networks"; "Reach and selectivity as strategies of recruitment;" and "Unfinished business"

Once again, there is PDF copy of the book and all articles in the group Zotero library. Contact Mako if you need one in some other way. The book is difficult and includes a bit of math and data. Don't try to start reading this the morning of.

2021 Suggestions[edit]

  • Elizabeth Colson's Tradition and Contract: The Problem of Order
  • Bainbridge: The Social Structure of Online Communities
    • I would love to read something by Bainbridge but this book is more of an set of case studies to contexts we're already pretty deeply familiar with. I'd probably skip it for this group. —mako 04:17, 17 June 2021 (CEST)
  • Iris Marion Young: Justice and the politics of difference
  • Kropotkin: Mutual Aid
  • Scott: Seeing Like a State
    • We talked about reading this as a group off and on this year but it didn't come together; I read it for Generals. I think there's value here for CDSC work, but the benefit might be a little diffuse. Maybe if we read it quickly? Kaylea (talk) 19:54, 21 June 2021 (CEST)
  • Douglas North: Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance [SELECTED]
  • Margaret Levi: [SELECTED]
  • Jenna Bednar: The Robust Federation [SELECTED]
  • Pierre Bourdieau: Cultural Capital
    • If there's strong demand for this, we should ask one of several Bourdieau experts to come in an help read with us. Bourdieau is difficult and I've personally struggled with his work. —mako 04:17, 17 June 2021 (CEST)
  • Visualizations Series:
    • WEB Du Bois's Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America (Ed: Whitney Battle-Baptiste and Britt Rusert)
      • I'd be really into this. Maybe we could find some stuff written about it to help contextualize it and its impact? —mako 04:18, 17 June 2021 (CEST)
        • I think this book is meant to be at least some of that context. Maybe could add in some book reviews, or read some of the original/primary texts? Kaylea (talk) 19:41, 21 June 2021 (CEST)
    • Tufte
      • I'm not sure we'd be the best group to give a tour of this stuff. —mako 04:17, 17 June 2021 (CEST)
    • Kieren Healy
    • Manuel Lima
  • Epistemics of Science Series:
    • Paul Feyeraband, Against Method
    • Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    • Karl Popper, Logic of Scientific Discovery
    • Stephen Jay Gould, Mismeasure of Man
    • Hasock Chang, Inventing Temperature
    • Scholar as Human, (Eds: Anna Sims Bartel and Debra A. Castillo)
  • The Economics of Knowledge, Dominique Foray
  • Dividing the Waters, William Blomquist
  • Revisiting classics
    • Critical Mass In Collective Action, Marwell & Oliver

Suggestions from previous years[edit]

Feel free to move up things we missed before and you'd like to cover or things we covered before several years ago that you think it's time to do again.

Post 2020 suggestions[edit]

  • Ruha Benjamin, The New Jim Code
  • Sasha Costanza-Chock, Design Justice
  • Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples - Linda Tuhiwai Smith
  • A People’s History of Computing in the United States - Joy Lisi Rankin
  • Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (Lisa Nakamura)
  • Data Feminism (2020) (Read it!)
  • Coding Freedom
  • Automating Inequality - Virginia Eubanks

Lessons from 2019 Instantiation[edit]

  • Deciding on book/s needs to happen earlier so that we can get the word out and folks can plan
  • Intersecting reading choices and discussion leaders earlier would also be helpful

Structural Ideas from Post-Summer 2019[edit]

  • Part of a broader "Samba school" program that CDSC might operate as over each summer?
  • What is the periodicity of the STC? 3 years? 4 years?

Reading Ideas From 2019 Planning[edit]

  • Axelrod's wikipedia:The Evolution of Cooperation. A more controversial suggestion would be Kropotkin's wikipedia:Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolutionmako
  • Claude Shannon (or at least someone else's summary of information theory) Aaronshaw (talk) 16:38, 7 May 2019 (EDT)
  • Hayek (on information) Aaronshaw (talk) 16:39, 7 May 2019 (EDT)
  • If we want to read something ecological I would pick "organizations evolving" by Reuf and Aldrich. It may be a bit too high level and its kind of a textbook. I'd also be excited to do Marx, Weber, Durkheim. Another idea for a social theory book is "Constructing Social Theories" by Stinchcomb. Groceryheist (talk) 18:24, 5 June 2019 (EDT)
  • Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press.
  • Something by Wanda Orlikowski Sneha (talk) 11:49, 6 June 2019 (EDT)
  • Jo Freeman's Tyranny of Structurelessness Sneha (talk) 11:49, 6 June 2019 (EDT) (this is very short and important! there's no excuse not to do it —mako 20:44, 5 June 2020 (CEST))
  • Jessica Nembhard's Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice Sneha (talk) 11:49, 6 June 2019 (EDT)
  • Francesa Polletta's Freedom is an Endless Meeting Sneha (talk) 11:49, 6 June 2019 (EDT) (This is a new classic and and I'd really like to do it. —mako)

Reading Ideas From Post-Summer 2019[edit]

Previous Years[edit]