Monday, April 6, 2015

Professor Nigel Thrift Audio Recording on Calculation and Error

By IMTFI Graduate Research Assistant, Nandita Badami

"Stops mistakes, saves money, speeds
service to customers!" -
National Cash Register Company Ad 1955
from the IMTFI archives
As computational systems get more sophisticated, the assumption that calculation errors will get progressively eliminated is one we all tend to make. In this short video, noted human geographer Nigel Thrift briefly reflects on how this is not always the case. Prompted by an image from the IMTFI archives - a ‘National’ cash register advertisement from 1955 - Professor Thrift reflects on the importance of remembering the persistence of calculation errors within increasingly automated monetary systems.

Read more on Professor Thrift’s work on “qualculation” - the many millions of calculations that inform any given social encounter in Euro-American cultures.

This is the second in a series of short videos on the material cultures of payment and money started by the blog Transactions: A Payments Archive. You can view the first video, a commentary by Professor Keith Hart (Centennial Professor of Economic Anthropology at the London School of Economics) on the Kina Shell necklace and its connections to the history of anthropological thinking about money, gifts and exchange, here.

The full audio recording of Nigel Thrift's talk, "Cities in the Anthropocene" held at UC Irvine on Feb. 26, 2015, is available on the IMTFI YouTube site.

*These videos feature excerpts from the song “Jupiter the Blue” by Gillicuddy, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 International license.

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