About Virality

Welcome to Virality

Illustration by Dorota Piekorz

Dr. Tony D. Sampson’s Research Blog


Tony D. Sampson is an academic, author and editor. 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, 2017) and Affect and Social Media: Emotion, Mediation, Anxiety and Contagion, coedited with Darren Ellis and Stephen Maddison (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018). His new book – A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Social Media was published by Polity in 2020.


Tony is the host and organiser of the Affect and Social Media conferences and a co-founder of the public engagement initiative the Cultural Engine Research Group. He currently works as a reader in digital communication at the University of Essex in the UK.

Tony is a critical theorist with an interest in philosophies of media technology, digital cultures, experience design, neurocultures and affect theory. Current research explores a wide range of digital media culture related interests grasped through an events (process), assemblage and affect theory frame. These interests are focused on social media platforms, virality (socio-digital contagion), marketing power, network cultures,  pass-on-power, “fake” news, data voids, the convergence between experience (UX) design and marketing, critical human computer interaction (cHCI), digital activism and neuroculture (e.g. neuromarketing, neuroeconomics and neuroaesthetics).

Twitter: @TonyDSpamson

New book published June 2020


16 thoughts on “About Virality

  1. I would like to get in contact with anyone researching on `contagion and social protest, especially in the context of rumors adn social media…. please get in touch.

    1. I’m writing a book called “The Rumor Bomb: Vertiginous Democracy in Convergence Culture,” and have already published a few articles that will be featured in the book. Searching Harsin and rumor bomb, you will find them pretty quickly. I just discovered Tony’s work over the last couple of months and it will figure importantly in my theory of rumor bombs.

  2. Yes, It would be nice to get some work on protest on this blog. You’ll see the post about the Greek journal Re-Public (in the archives). It was going to be a really nice edition, I think. Shame that the guys running it have not been paid for 5 or 6 months now and are on strike!

  3. THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF FORUM I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR . . . the confluence of all these topics in one place for people with similar interests to talk about is exactly what the net is supposed to be about. Congratulations to Tony Sampson on both the book and the blog!!

  4. Thanks for the link John! Looks very interesting. Perfect for this blog. I’ll take a closer look and add something about it to the posts next week.

    1. From my book “Vortex to Virus, Myth to Meme” : “In the case of nihilism and chaos, the ongoing epistemological and ontological revolution initiated by the likes of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, the collapse of myth as a totalizing source of meaning, and the transition from a Newtonian, deterministic worldview to a quantum-relativistic, chaotic worldview transformed the Western cultural landscape, paving the way for the “viral” spread of nihilism and chaos to different intellectual and cultural strata.” Just tossing this in to start a discussion hopefully with the members of the blog. I would be very interested in the feedback. I am trying to develop these ideas further and could use the constructive criticism. Thanks, …

  5. Congratulations on the book. It is covering a very important subject, we need people like you to make people aware of this .

  6. Seeing that Deleuze’s notion of the assemblage figures prominently here at the blog, I was wondering to what extent Virality followers and contributors follow the work of Manuel De Landa. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve read some of his stuff on assemblages over the years, and it is very interesting. He has a way of addressing Deleuze and complexity and ontology in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Would welcome any insights from Virality members with regard to De Landa’s work and how it fits in with Virality. . .

    1. One interesting feature of DeLanda for me is the similarity between his assemblage theory of the social and Tarde’s work. Aside from the few explicit references to Tarde in Deleuze (there are of course many implicit references), DeLanda writes interestingly about the importance of special replicators. He also takes up the case against Durkheim, which is where I think Deleuze seems to become most inspired by Tarde i.e. the difference between collective representations and subrepresentational forces in the social field. Indeed, I am surprised that Tarde did not figure in DeLanda’s book.

  7. I’m super curious about your book. I’ve written about empathy, mirron neurons, ethics and fictional characters, but it’s in portuguese… I’ve been trying to find a way to pursue this research and link it with Hardt/Negri’s work, but haven’t quite found a good approach yet… Anyone out there researching these things?

    1. Thanks for your interest. I have indeed looked at Obama’s use of empathy and also mirror neurons in my book. I am therefore super curious about your work too. Do you have a summary of your approach in English. I would happily post about it here and add a link to your work. We get quite a few visits from Portuguese speaking countries.

  8. I’m super curious about your book, can’t wait until it comes out. I’ve written about empathy, mirror neurons, ethics and fictional characters in videogames, but it’s in portuguese… I’m trying to connect this research with hardt/negri’s work, but i haven’t yet found a good approach – anyone out there working on something like that? by the way, can we expect an ebook version of your book? congratulations on this forum, it’s very very interesting. best regards.

  9. Hi, thanks for creating this site. Would be cool to put together a directory of writings in social media contagion here!

    Here are a couple of my own recent pieces on the role social media has played in driving up the rise of reactionary views (whether it’s a real rise or just the appearance of a rise is a question that I’ve attempted to address, as well):

    The first two pieces detail how social media has been used to spread totalitarian ideas (for example, by the alt right)



    The third discusses how Facebook’s interface can be used to reinforce negative attitudes as well as positive ones:


    I’m always looking out for writings on these subjects and would love it if others shared their links here, too!

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