Abstract: Financial markets have been disrupted and reconfigured by major technological advances three times in the last 150 years. First by the stock ticker, then, in the 1980s, a hundred years later, by the computer, with screens replacing ticker tape and enabling electronic trading, and finally, since about 2005, by algorithms that trade. The paper traces the radical shifts in pattern provoked by these changes, but also identifies two organizing logics and alliances that were present throughout, suggesting an overarching accelerating development: the first treats time as a pliable variable and resource that can be manipulated for practical purposes and can also be internally redefined and calculated. The second implies an early alliance with knowledge and science. The story tops out with a takeover by science involving new classes of actors and new types of social relations.
Following the lecture, please join us at 3pm for an Inside the Ethnographer’s Studio conversation with Professor Knorr Cetina in Student Building 159.