Technology is the New Magic? at UAL

Note on the morning session

So does capitalism result in the loss of enchantment? Did industrialization, as conceived of by the Frankfurt School, kill magic? A nice question to begin with. Jussi Parikka’s excellent talk is far too rich to summarise here, but it suggests a new kind of post industrial magic. Tracing a media technology trajectory through magical illusions – mirrors, projections, and film to the alchemy of the silicon business enterprise. The metallurgists and alchemists working at Apple transforming raw metals into new designed digital experiences.

This is all in sharp contrast to the claims of interaction designers who desire technology with a fun personality. Animistic design wherein technology becomes a peer to the human. The fun of it all. The magic of the AI enabled screen. Design for fun rather than getting things done. Wait till the marketers get a load of this… What kind of digital dystopia is this where fun becomes a marketing ploy. A digital capitalism fortified by the magicians in the marketing department that magically turn the labour of fun into new efficiencies and profit streams. How do you stop the corporates invading these animistic media ecologies? Where is the ethics in interactive design? Many questions unanswered.

Bring on a real magician to confirm our deepest fears. Most of us are fooled by the magic trick.





About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: Full academic profile:
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