Okay, so I was touting Donald MacKenzie's An Engine, Not a Camera, even before orgtheory.com announced its symposium on it. Yesterday Kieran put up a post of journal-article quality and length about the book. Reading that caused me to write my own post. Not a response to Kieran's--especially since I haven't finished reading it--but some of my own thoughts on the relationship between economic theory and the world-at-large by way of an extended analogy. The issue is one I've been trying to think through even before reading MacKenzie, but has certainly been influenced by it. Since it's a longish post of limited interest to people who read my blog to see if I've written about bacon night, conversations about raw butter, or short short fiction about dead babies, I've used the Magic Weblog Wayback Machine to post it here instead. The post does include a rousing conclusion about what I currently regard as the inexorable direction our world has been and will continue to be headed.
Two brief updates after further reading: (1) I finished reading Kieran's post and his discussion of "game-changing tricks" is pretty intimately related to (and far more eloquently stated than) how I mean to be thinking of that part of what "performativity" is about. My broader thinking is something like stapling the idea of "game-changing tricks" to the Boyd and Richerson concept of "work-arounds" and having "performativity" emerge as the rabbit out of a much grander hat than just financial markets; (2) I also re-read my dead babies story linked above and it made me wish I had re-enrolled in short short fiction. That class was so much fun.