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Book Launch

Book Talk | Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy

03/28 Thursday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join for the launch of Melissa Gregg’s new book Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy, out now from Duke University Press, featuring the author in conversation with Finn Brunton, Natasha Dow Schüll, and Caitlin Zaloom.

As online distractions increasingly colonize our time, why has productivity become such a vital demonstration of personal and professional competence? When corporate profits are soaring but worker salaries remain stagnant, how does technology exacerbate the demand for ever greater productivity? In Counterproductive Melissa Gregg explores how productivity emerged as a way of thinking about job performance at the turn of the last century and why it remains prominent in the different work worlds of today. Examining historical and archival material alongside popular self-help genres—from housekeeping manuals to bootstrapping business gurus, and the growing interest in productivity and mindfulness software—Gregg shows how a focus on productivity isolates workers from one another and erases their collective efforts to define work limits. Questioning our faith in productivity as the ultimate measure of success, Gregg’s novel analysis conveys the futility, pointlessness, and danger of seeking time management as a salve for the always-on workplace.

Melissa Gregg is Senior Principal Engineer and Research Director in the Client Computing Group at Intel. She is co-editor of The Affect Theory Reader (Duke, 2010) and author of Work’s Intimacy (Polity, 2011) one of the first ethnographic accounts of social media and mobile technology on professional employees. At Intel, her insights are at the forefront of CCG’s growth strategy. Tracking the impact of major trends like co-working spaces and the gig economy, her research informs new platform requirements for Intel’s architecture and shapes the future of work vision across a range of business groups.

Finn Brunton (finnb.net) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet  (MIT Press, 2013), Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest with Helen Nissenbaum (MIT Press, 2015), Communication with Mercedes Bunz and Paula Bialski (University of Minnesota Press/Meson, 2019), and the forthcoming  Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Technologists, and Utopians Who Created Cryptocurrency (Princeton University Press, 2019).

Natasha Dow Schüll is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her recent book, Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press, 2012), draws on extended research among compulsive gamblers and the designers of the slot machines they play to explore the relationship between technology design and the experience of addiction. Her next book, Keeping Track (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, under contract), concerns the rise of digital self-tracking technologies and the new modes of introspection and self-governance they engender. Schüll’s research and op-eds have been featured in such national media venues as 60 MinutesThe New York TimesThe EconomistThe AtlanticThe Washington PostFinancial TimesForbesBoston GlobeSalonChicago TribuneLas Vegas Sun99% Invisible, NPR, WGBH, and WNYC.

Caitlin Zaloom is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU and an organizer of the OIKOS working group at IPK. Her forthcoming book Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost (Princeton University Press, Fall 2019) examines how the struggle to pay transforms family relationships and defines middle-class life in America today. Zaloom has held many fellowships and awards for her work including from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. She is also the author of Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and Editor in Chief of Public Books .

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