Tag: Contagion

New eBook “Experience Capitalism” due soon in Spanish and English

Very pleased to announce imminent publication of new Rizosfera eBook in both Spanish and English. I hope these texts will provide a glimpse into a continuing project I have tried to encapsulate under the heading of Experience Capitalism. This term stresses the importance of a political inclination toward the management and intensification of the so-called user experience. The outcome of this tendency is twofold: (a) it draws attention to a neurological-somatic shift from the management of efficient cognition (perception, attention, memory etc.), toward previously marginalized affects, feelings and emotions, and (b), necessitates a critical theory and philosophy of experience, alert to such trends in digital labour. 

The first text is taken from The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (Minnesota UP, 2016). It sets out a theoretical frame intended to trace the trajectory of Experience Capitalism from ergonomics and cognitive science toward the intensification of the collective dynamic of user experience. The second text, taken from A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Social Media (Polity, 2020), extends this critical frame by sketching out a Whiteheadian philosophy of experience. In addition to these two chapters, there is an interview with Jernej Markelj, currently based at the University of Amsterdam. This text was first published in The Journal of Media Art Study and Theory (2020) and provides a rangy discussion on contagion theory, interestingly captured in the context of the first COVID-19 lockdown. There is also a dialogue with N Katherine Hayles, initially published in Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry (2018). This conversation locates the Assemblage Brain thesis in a converging and diverging spiral of relation to Hayles’s Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Unconscious (University of Chicago, 2017). We have also included some somnambulist illustrative diagrams by the artist Mikey Georgeson, extracted from A Sleepwalker’s Guide. More to follow: https://viralcontagion.blog/books/

Parallax (23) 1: Autoimmunities, Guest Edited by Stefan Herbrechter and Michelle Jamieson

I have an article published in this special issue of Parallax that develops on one of the themes (Horror of Digital Autotoxicus) fleetingly introduced in The Spam Book introduction with Jussi Parikka.

Looking forward to reading the rest of it…

Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tpar20/current

Full Contents

Autoimmunities, Guest Edited by Stefan Herbrechter and Michelle Jamieson

Affect and Social Media Programme due tomorrow!

Spent most of today finalizing the Affect and Social Media#2 Programme. Looks really exciting. Very nice cross-disciplinary and international cast of speakers. Panels on emotional experiences, new materialisms, anxiety and panic, affective circuits, geographies and contagion… Looking forward to 23rd March in East London.

Will publish it here and elsewhere tomorrow!

Register here: https://www.uel.ac.uk/Events/2016/3/Affect-and-Social-Media-Symposium-2


Affect and Social Media Symposium#2 (23rd Mar) Registration open!

Registration is now open for the Affect and Social Media Symposium#2 (2016)

Following on from the success of last year’s Affect and Social Media Symposium at UEL, the emotionUX lab in the School of Arts and Digital Industries (in collaboration with Cass School of Education and Communities) invite you to register for a second symposium continuing to explore the relation between social media, affect, feelings and emotions.

Due to a wonderful response to the call for presentations this year’s event will be much bigger. It takes place at UEL’s Docklands campus (registration starts at 9am in room EB: G. 06) on Wednesday 23rd March. The programme runs throughout the day and culminates at 6-8pm with an art Sensorium – washed down with drinks and nibbles.

This year the A&SM symposium brings together an international cast of speakers from across disciplinary boundaries. The programme (to be confirmed in full in early February) includes cross-disciplinary panel sessions grasping affect and social media through the lenses of digital emotion, individuation, experience, emoticons, new materialisms, selfies, relfies, biofeedback, feminist activism, media panic, anxiety, therapy, learning, and affective circuits, geographies, new connectivities and contagions.

The event will also feature a collaborative art ‘experience’ – Sensorium featuring the work of John Wild, Marie Brenneis, Mikey B Georgeson, Sally Labern and Dean Todd.

Please note that due to limited space all attendees will need to confirm their place at the symposium by initially registering online (see link below) before signing in on the day. We recommend early registration to guarantee a place at this popular event.

External (waged): £5

External (unwaged, student): £3

Presenters, UEL staff, students, alumni and nonhumans: Free

Register online here: http://www.uel.ac.uk/Events/2016/3/Affect-and-Social-Media-Symposium-2


SECOND CALL for participation in PhD-course: 2nd Ph.D. Summer School of Cultural Transformations: Cultural Im/materialities: Contagion, Affective Rhythms and Mobilization

SECOND CALL for participation in PhD-course:

2nd Ph.D. Summer School of Cultural Transformations:

Cultural Im/materialities:
Contagion, Affective Rhythms and Mobilization

International PhD course, 23-27 June 2014, Aarhus University, Denmark

The summer school is funded by the Ph.D. programmes Art, Literature and Cultural Studies and ICT, Media, Communication and Journalism and by Centre for Sociological Studies Aarhus University (all Aarhus University). The event is part of a cultural studies summer school network with Warwick University, University of Southern Denmark, Södertörn University and Aarhus University as partners. The first event in 2013 was hosted by Warwick University.

Associate Professor, PhD, Britta Timm Knudsen; Associate Professor, PhD, Mads Krogh; Assistant Professor, PhD, Carsten Stage; Associate Professor, PhD, Anne Marit Waade

Partners: Warwick University, UK, University of Southern Denmark, DK, Södertörn University, SE, CESAU, DK, Copenhagen Business School, DK

Confirmed keynotes
Professor Georgina Born (Music and Anthropology, Oxford University), UK
Reader Tony D. Sampson (Digital Culture and Communications, University of East London), UK
Professor John Protevi (Philosophy and French Studies, Loyola University Chicago), US
Senior Lecturer Luciana Parisi (Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths), UK

Lecturers / workshop organizers / discussants
Jenny Sundén, Södertörn University
Nathaniel Tkacz, Warwick University
Christian Borch, Copenhagen Business School
Representative from University of Southern Denmark
Anne Marit Waade, Aarhus University
Carsten Stage, Aarhus University
Mads Krogh, Aarhus University
Britta Timm Knudsen, Aarhus University
Christoffer Kølvraa, Aarhus University
Louise Fabian, Aarhus University
Camilla Møhring Reestorff, Aarhus University


Time: June 23-27 2014
Room and Place: Aarhus University
Cost/ Policy: No cost fee, each participant covers travel & accommodation.
Max. number of participants: 30

The summer school wants to explore the role of affect, suggestive rhythms and contagion for the somatic mobilization of agents across a range of socio-cultural situations (e.g. protest events, dance halls, online forums, catastrophes), practises and processes (e.g. political mobilization and engagement, school bullying, youth loneliness, xenophobic/nationalist panics). In recent years an increasing interest in materiality, space, technology and embodiment has developed in the humanities and social sciences combined with an ëaffective turní (Clough, Massumi, Thrift, Seigworth and Gregg, Ahmed) to immaterial dimensions of these phenomena.
This has re-actualised early sociological theories about affective suggestion, contagion and imitation (e.g. Gustave Le Bon and Gabriel Tarde), which offer valuable insights to the analysis of a contemporary cultural landscape characterised by for instance viral/memetic phenomena, mediated/networked/rhythmically coordinated crowds, affective online communication and political modulation of citizen affects (Blackman, Borch, Gibbs, Sampson, Butler). During the summer school we wish to collectively explore the immaterial dimensions of the material social world and vice versa, discuss the potentialities, implications and risks of such analysis in an open interdisciplinary environment.
The event will attract PhD students from a range of academic fields (anthropology, geography, media, cultural studies, aesthetics, sociology, political science etc.) interested in, and doing research on, the affective turn, processes of imitation/suggestion/contagion, the rhythmically attuning mobilisation of bodies, and the im/material dimensions of culture and the social world.
Possible areas/topics:

The affective dimensions of materiality, space, technology and things
Aesthetics and affectivity, sensual design
Mobilization within public and private spheres of action
Viral communication, virality in the media, memes, social media
The methodological challenges of analysing cultural materialities and immaterial processes
Theoretical legacies to the ëaffective turní and new materialist orientations within the humanities and social sciences; early sociologies of contagion, suggestion and imitation
Moral, media and financial panics
Music culture, sound, dance and rhythm
Industries of affect, affective consumption
Tourism, black spot/dark tourism
Artistic agency, idols and fandom
Crowds, protest culture, social movements, (creative/eventful) activism, political events
Depression, loneliness, bullying, affective exclusion
Charity, empathy and sympathy
Affect, emotion and power, war and affective modulation
Xenophobia, nationalism, the strategic production of fear and hate
Atmosphere, aura, prestige
Sexuality, porn, love and care
The affectivity of catastrophes
Blasphemy, fanaticism and provocative politics

The Ph.D.-summer school will be based on keynote presentations, workshops and studentsí own project presentations and organized feedback sessions.

The examination will consist of three parts: 1. Full paper hand-in (deadline May 15); 2. Attending workshops and doing group assignments; 3. Paper presentation and discussion of papers.

Deadline for submission
Deadline: March 1 2014
Send an email to: Marianne Hoffmeister mho@adm.au.dk
Attach a description of your research topic and project (max. 300 words).

March 15: You will get to know if you participate, and you will be asked to confirm your participation.

Preparation for PhD students
April 1: The organizers will form groups out of the participants (5 in all) and each group has to organize a slot of one hour each with a social and/or academic content (e.g. academic speed-dating, guided tours in Aarhus for strangers by strangers, exercises between the slots).

May 15: Deadline for submitting a full paper (10 pages)

Preparation for teachers
March: Organizers must read the abstracts and form participants groups.

Medio May: The group of teachers will be responsible for 3-4 papers, that he/she has read carefully in advance in order to 1) place the paper within the theme of the summer school 2) to be a discussant of the paper and to give an open and constructive feedback at the summer school

About the summer school network (SSCT)
The series aims at creating an international environment of constructive academic discussions in the field of cultural studies in order to strengthen this discipline in our respective academic communities and to develop the discipline of cultural studies according to actual developments and new theoretical paradigms. The series aims at improving teaching in cultural studies through a meticulous work on theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges. It is also our intention to build stronger research relations and exchange opportunities between the involved institutions and participants. Network coordinator: Carsten Stage (norcs@hum.au.dk).

The diffusion of protests (Affect, Event, Belief) – This from John Postill’s blog

Just caught the below  from John Postill’s blog. I agree that diffusion theories have in the past “stayed at a fairly superficial level.” So a “wealth of new data” is helping to change that. Mmm. I am more interested here in the affect, event and belief relation. Some parallels with the Deleuze/Tarde contagion theory developed in Virality and a nice counter to the hyperbole of social media determined revolutions  etc. Worth a deeper read.

“Social movements rise when the overall frequency of protest events rises in a population, they become violent when the ratio of violent events to non-violent events rises, and so forth.”

The diffusion of protests (2)

May 1, 2013

Excerpts from the paper “Diffusion Models of Cycles of Protest as a Theory of Social Movements” n.d. by Pamela E. Oliver (University of Wisconsin) and Daniel J. Myers (University of Notre Dame), www.nd.edu/~dmyers/cbsm/vol3/olmy.pdf

This paper develops a theoretical framework for understanding social movements as interrelated sets of diffusion processes and explains why such a conception is broadly useful to scholars of social movements.

[…] We begin with the fundamental observation that in social movements, actions affect other actions: Actions are not just isolated, independent responses external economic or political conditions–rather, one action changes the likelihood of subsequent actions. That is, diffusion processes are involved. This inter-action influence has long been recognized. Tarrow’s work on cycles of protest (e.g. 1998) has long recognized these interrelations. McAdam’s work on “tactical diffusion” showed that the civil rights movement was not a steady stream, but a series of bursts of action each driven by a tactical innovation: bus boycotts, freedom rides, sit-ins, demonstrations, and riots (1983). Many scholars have also noted the many ways that protest actions cannot be understood in isolation, but rather need to be viewed as interactions with the police and other social control forces, particularly as the police learn more effective methods of repression over time. Protest actions obviously interact as well with social policy changes and political speech-making (what we often call “elite support”). And, of course, over time one social movement affects another, as tactics and frames diffuse and produce the effects that Meyer and Whittier (1994) call “movement spillover.” The civil rights demonstrations and marches of the early 1960s not only led to civil rights legislation, but indirectly fostered the increased militancy and anger of Blacks and the elite responsiveness which contributed to the wave of black urban riots. The Black movement, in turn, was a direct inspiration for activists who explicitly studied the histories and writings of Black movement activist, including for example the Chicanos who founded La Raza (García 1989) and early feminists (Evans 1980).

[…] In short, diffusion processes are critical to the evolution of social movements. Scholars are increasingly recognizing the theoretical importance of diffusion processes, and using diffusion language in discussing social movements. Until recently, however, these discussions have stayed at a fairly superficial level. The fact of the diffusion of action has been repeatedly demonstrated in quantitative data showing the dispersion of events across time or space, and in qualitative research documenting the direct connections between events. A wealth of new data has been and is being collected giving the time series of various kinds of violent and nonviolent events in a number of different nations (Hocke 1998; Jenkins and Eckert 1986; Kriesi et al. 1995; McAdam 1982; Olzak 1990; Olzak 1992; Olzak and Olivier 1994; Olzak, Shanahan and McEneaney 1996; Olzak, Shanahan and West 1994; Rucht, Koopmans and Neidhardt 1998; Rucht 1992). Careful analyses of these data are yielding great payoffs in our understanding of the dynamics of collective events and the interplay between different modes of action by different actors. The combination of these data and recent advances in the technology of modeling diffusion make it possible to give a much more detailed account of the mechanisms of diffusion and to integrate diffusion processes with the other processes known to be important in social movements.

Taking advantage of these data and technical advances requires reorientation of both social movement theory and traditional diffusion theory so that the two can be integrated. In this paper, we discuss the issues involved in integrating these theories, the steps that have been taken so far, and the tasks that remain. Although it is possible to imagine a full theoretical conception that is more complex than we are able to fully portray at present, we believe that the work accomplished so far indicates the tremendous advances that will be possible from completing the process of theoretical integration.

[…] The linchpin of the integration of social movement theory with diffusion concepts is to re-conceive the basic concept of a social movement. As we, among others, have written elsewhere, there has never been much clarity about just what kind of thing a social movement is. […] If we are to gain the advantages of diffusion theory, we need to give up the conception of a social movement as some kind of coherent entity, and instead conceive a social movement as a distribution of events across a population. We use the term “event” here in a general sense to encompass the actions of the various actors in a population, as well as their beliefs. In this sense, specific protest actions are events, but so is a resource flow from one group to another. It is also an event when a certain proportion of the population comes to hold a particular belief. Under this conception, a social movement peaks when there are a lot of protest actions happening involving a large proportion of the population “at risk” for participating.

[…] An emphasis on the diffusion of action as the core process in a social movement is central to studies of waves of conflict and cycles of protest.  […] For scholars not used to thinking this way, the transition is difficult, but it is very important if we are to achieve a real understanding of the protest phenomenon. The transition perhaps can be compared to that in the study of evolutionary biology, where it is recognized that a species is not a distinct entity which can make choices about how to adapt to an environment, but a statistical distribution of traits across individual organisms. Species evolve when the distribution of characteristics within a breeding population changes. Social movements rise when the overall frequency of protest events rises in a population, they become violent when the ratio of violent events to non-violent events rises, and so forth.

University of Exeter Contagion Workshop on social media, reality mining and new species of contagion


Workshop 2: Social media, reality mining and new species of contagion

A Research and Knowledge Transfer research event
Date 14 May 2013
Time 10:45 to 16:00
Place Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies

The Contagion project is hosting three workshops, organised through the Society, Technology and Culture Theme of the HASS Strategy. In the last decades there have been heightened attempts to theorise, model and manage the risks of social, financial and biological contagion (Peckham 2013). While the metaphor is widely used, the rules for defining contagions are no longer clear. If contagion emerged as a concern with intimate sexual contact in the 16th Century, and was translated into fear of urban crowds in the 19th Century, and to unease with globalisation in the 20th Century, the 21st Century is coming to terms with the changing coordinates of those contacts, new proximities and distances, new kinds of mediation, aggregation and link-breaking, new vocabularies for affective politics, and a concern with the movement of movement itself (Thrift 2011). As a result, there’s a need to develop resources for understanding how contemporary contagions work and a need to critically evaluate the limits and consequences of analogizing biological, financial and communication processes under the rubric of contagion. In Workshop 2 we will explore the questions: How are social media and ubiquitous computing changing the coordinates and spaces of contagion? What methods can be used to mine reality and to understand the new responses of social networks to information?


11.30   Arrival, coffee and tea

11.45   From virality to neuroculture

Dr Tony D. Sampson (Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London)

12.15   An empirical approach for modelling dynamic contact networks

Dr Eiko Yoneki (Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge)

13.00   Lunch

14.00   The pharmacology of attentive media

Dr Sam Kinsley (Geography, University of Exeter) 

14.30   Social media, community-based organisations, and attention work

Dr Matthew Wilson (Geography, University of Kentucky)

15.00   Introducing the DOLLY project: spatialising social media

Dr Matthew Zook (Geography, University of Kentucky)

15.30   Discussion

16.30   Close of workshop


Digital Culture: Anomalies, Archaeology and Contagion

Digital Culture: Anomalies, Archaeology and Contagion
– a seminar and wine reception at Kings College, London

20th March 2013

Seminar: 4.30-5.30 in K3.11 (K3.11 King’s Building, Third Floor, Room 11).  on the Strand Campus of KCL. Directions here: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/campuses/strand/Strand.aspx

Wine reception: from 5.30-7.00 in the Small Somerset Room (second floor King’s Building).

books pattern copyIn 2009 Parikka and Sampson coedited The Spam Book, a collection of articles intended to probe the “dark side” of digital culture. The Spam Book addressed a shift from a digital culture very much defined in terms of the economic potential of digital objects and tools toward a discourse describing a space seemingly contaminated by digital waste products, dirt, unwanted, and illicit objects.

In this seminar and the following wine reception, Parikka and Sampson discuss emerging ideas and theoretical approaches to digital culture. Parikka’s media archaeological approach and Sampson’s research on virality provide insights into worlds of affect, anomaly and the alternative genealogy of which our network culture emerges. Parikka’s new What is Media Archaeology? pitches media archaeology as a multidisciplinary 21st century humanities field that resonates with a range of recent scholarly debates from digital humanities to software studies and digital forensics. Media archaeological excavations and discussions on such as Friedrich Kittler offer an alternative insight to the current digital culture/economy debates in the UK.

Sampson’s approach to digital culture brings together a Deleuzian ontological worldview with the sociology of Gabriel Tarde. His subsequent theory of network contagion does not, as such, restrict itself to memes and microbial contagions derived from biological analogies or medical metaphors. It instead points toward a theory of assemblages of imitation, viral events, and affective contagions. For Sampson, contagion is not necessarily a positive or negative force of encounter; it is how society comes together and relates. Sampson provides an assemblage theory of digital culture concerned with relationality and encounter, helping us to understand digital contagion as a positively sociological event, building from the molecular outward, long before it becomes biological.

Parikka’s media archaeology and Sampson’s contagion theory both figure the importance of a materialist approach to the imaginary and the nonconscious as central to an understanding of digital culture. Hence, the seminar asks the question: what is the nonconscious of digital culture?

The seminar is followed up by a book launch of Parikka’s What is Media Archaeology and Sampson’s Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks.

Both books are available at the event along with wine.

Jussi Parikka: What is Media Archaeology? Polity Press: Cambridge, 2012.


Tony D. Sampson: Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 2012.


Jussi Parikka is Reader in Media & Design at Winchester School of Art, and author of Digital Contagions (2007) and Insect Media (2010) as well as (co-) editor several edited collections, including The Spam Book (2009), Media Archaeology (2011) and Medianatures (2011). He blogs at htt://jussiparikka.net.

Tony D. Sampson is a London-based academic, writer and Reader in Digital Media and Communications at the University of East London. A former musician, he studied computer technology and cultural theory before receiving a PhD in sociology from the University of Essex. His research blog is at https://viralcontagion.wordpress.com/
Directions: To find K3.11 you take stairs up from the Second Floor King’s Building at the Strand end of King’s Building. You can ask for directions at the Strand Reception.

The Bullingdon Contagion “Not Defending Privilege, Spreading It.”

How far does a Bullingdon* contagion spread?

In a speech to the Tory party conference on Wednesday, British PM David Cameron promised to ‘spread privilege’ of the kind he enjoyed growing up as he vowed to make the country one of aspiration. Dave was of course responding to widespread criticism about his “out of touch” approach to the recession, his own privileged background, and the backgrounds of his front bench of millionaire ministers; all products of a posh and expensive education, and tendency to regard those “below” them as plebs.

A Bullingdon contagion spreads like wildfire on the steps of Eton! Well, at least 9 boys seem to have been infected.

Virality has some questions about Dave’s desire to spread privilege. What kind of contagion is this going to be?

What is the cost of the “aspiration nation”?

How much did Cameron’s and Gove’s aspirational education cost?

How far does a Bullingdon contagion (see pic left) spread?

An education at Eton can cost between £40-50,000 a year (see current fees). The average UK salary is £26,020!

Incidentally, the current Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (one of the poor fellows pictured above on the steps of Eton suffering from Bullingdon’s disease), refers to £250,000 a year as “chicken-feed”(interesting article here about that).

Is the spreading of privilege really going to be achieved by cutting the taxes of millionaires and cutting welfare for the under 25s? Or is it possible to counter the rhetorical spin of Cameron’s privilege contagion with the notion of spreading (or redistributing) the wealth that pays for privilege?

Read more on Boris Johnson and the Olympics in a later post on Virality.

* The Bullingdon Club is a secret society dining club exclusive to students at Oxford University. The club has no permanent rooms and is notorious for its members’ wealth and destructive binges. Membership is by invitation only, and prohibitively expensive for most, given the need to pay for the uniform, dinners and damages. Read on