Parikka and Sampson 2009

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Parikka, Jussi and Thomy D. Sampson, eds. The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2009.

On Anomalous Objects of Digital Culture, by Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson (1-22)

digital pollution -- "a major downside (or setback) to a communication revolution that promised to be a noiseless and friction-free Road Ahead" (3)

"In this context, and against the prescribed and often idealized goals of the visionaries of digital capitalism, they appear to us as anomalies. Neverthelessw, despite the glut of security advice -- a lot of which is spuriously delivered to our e-mail inboxes, simply adding to the spam -- little attention has been paid to the cultural implications of these anomalous objects and processes by those of us engaged in media and communication studies, and particularly studies linked to digital network culture. ... However intrusive and objectionable, we argue that the digital anomaly has become central to contemporary communication theory. Along these lines, we begin this book by asking: "In what sense are these objects anomalous?"" (3)

spam, porn, viruses "are not irregular or abnormal" (one sense of anomalous) -- they are everywhere

anomalies "feedback into the expressive and material components of the assemblages that constitute network culture" -- e.g. through security businesses (4)

"Whether they are seen as novel business opportunities of network futures, anomalous objects,f ar from being abnormal, are constantly made use of in a variety of contexts, across numerous scales. therefore, our aim in this introduction is to primarily address the question concerning anomalies by seeking conceptual, analytic, and synthetic pathways out of the binary impasse between the normal versus the abnormal." (4)

avoiding metaphors and representational language; "in our opinion, the avoidance of such representational categorizations is equal to rejecting the implicit positioning of a pre-fabricated grid on which the categories identified constrain or shackle the object" (4)

  • "conceptual approach that is more fluid, precise, and inventive in terms of a response to the question of the anomaly"
  • "designed to grasp the liminal categories and understand the materiality and paradoxical inherency of these weird 'objects' and processes from theoretical and political points of view" (5)

affect and ethology

  • "how various assemblages of bodies (whether technological, biological, political or representational) are composed in interaction with each other and how they are defined, not by forms and functions, but by their capabilities or casual capacities" (5)

content of porn or spam email "may represent aspects of the capitalist mode of production, but these programs also express a materiality, or a logic of action, which has been, in our opinion, much neglected in the media and communication field" (7-8)

  • "not necessarily indices of a dysfunctional relation with a normalized state of communication, but are rather capacities of the software code" (8)
"Anomalies transform our experiences of contemporary network culture by intervening in relational paths and connecting the individual to new assemblages." (13)
"With its many references to Gaia ... cyberculture has co-opted the principle of the self-referencing maintenance of organic unity into the fabric of the collectivities of cyberspace." (14)
"Instead of seeing the network as a self-referential homeostatic system, we want to therefore propose an autopoietic view of networks wherein alterity becomes the mode of operation of this sociotechnical machine ... if we would want to approach network systems in a broad framework as autopoietic systems, one would need to emphasize their difference from an old ideal of harmonious determined Nature." (15)

Archives of Software: Malicious Code and the Aesthesis of Media Accidents, by Jussi Parikka (105-123)

"Although the primary processes of digital culture are nonrepresentational and algorithmic, they are continuously coded into (audio)visual forms, which are very much entwined in aesthetic-political agendas of network culture. In other words, the time-based procedures of computational media are spatialized in contemporary media archives that are framed by questions of technical and commercial nature. Another, even more apt way to describe this eneavor would be to refer to the difference between the corporealities (the materialities) of computer viruses and the incorporeal transformations that ineract with those materialities." (107)

software is a "process of calculation and coding"; is "imbued in the visible and articulable, but not reducible to them"

  • "In media archaeological terms, there is perahspa mediatic short circuit that nonlinearly connects various media spheres into a functioning assemblage, an archive as a logic of creation." (111)
"apart from being a specific technical security issue ... worms and viruses are increasingly media incidents that spread with the aid of audiovisions and texts" (112)
"programs are connected as part of the media assemblages of contemporary infotainment production" (113)

infotainment less a form of media than of faciality (113-4)

"Technological risks are interfaced in a feedback loop with the media microscopes that visualize the otherwise disappointingly faceless events (e.g., on the computer screen)." (115)

domestication and normalization of the computer (118) -- copyrighting, ability to "own code"

Windows "as an archival framework of contemporary network culture that organizes materials (texts, images, etc.), channels users, and pilots the uses and potentials of network culture. Windows operating system (connected to the corporation and its networks) is an archival machine in the sense that it controls large parts of what can be said, shown, and heard in the contemporary digital culture. This kind of theoretical suggestion would itnerestingly imply that virus writers, for who Windows is most often the targeted operating system, can be considered to be engaging in a kind of a practical an-archaeology that seeks to breakdown majoritarian mechanisms of framing." (119)

"Tactical an-archaeology might then mean, and the speculative choice of words is intended as this would need more research, not targeting operating systems or certain corporations as such but exposing the principles of how digital culture is framed through micropolitics of code." (119)
"Archives then do not merely record the past and present, but curiously also the future. In this sense, the issue of archives can be seen as crucial in questioning the politics of network culture, and the temporal understanding of how we see the archaeology of network culture, and importantly, how are we able to imagine its future. The archive never determines merely pasts, but functions as the a priori for a future to come." (123)

Toward an Evil Media Studies, by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey (141-159)

Stratagem 1: Bypass Representation

"Although networked metdia may well be shaped by cultural forces, they have a materiality that is refractory to meaning and to symbolism. At the same time, digital media work largely through the formal logic of programmed hardware and software, that is, as something that more closely approximates the order of language." (142)

Stratagem 2: Exploit Anachronisms

Stratagem 3: Stimulate Malignancy

"evil is a good name for the strategies of the object, for what things do in themselves without bothering to pass through the subjective demand for meaning." (143-4)

Stratagem 4: Machine the Commonplace

"to be a producer today, to be a virtuoso, involves working on and with commonplaces, the finite, fluctuating stock of points around which language as performance coheres and the skeletal forms of intelligence that these embody." (144)

machinic commonplaces of symbols; working with them

Stratagem 5: Make the Accidental the Essential

Aristotelian logic, attempts to close up the gaps of language "in which faults, glitches, and bugs started to be seen simply as accidents, trivial anomalies easily removed by means of the better internal policing of language" (146)

Sophists, double-speak of nonsense; "the 'repressed', disavowed norm of reason"

Stratagem 6: Recurse Stratagems

Stratagem 7: The Rapture of Capture

Stratagem 8: Sophisticating Machinery

reading of Kittler

"The presence/absence of absence/presence that is at work in the basic operations of computer hardware points toward the systematization of a regime of signs that, according to structural psychoanalysis, figure desire or affect as an elementarily coded phenomenon." (148)

Stratagem 9: What is good for natural language is good for formal language

Stratagem 10: Know your data

Stratagem 11: Liberate determinism

"Thousands of pointers to a c*sino, ph*rmacy, or adult entertainment site appended to a blog that was never more than a temporary whim are ways too of keeping the internet alive." (152)

Stratagem 12: Inattention economy

"the sheer proliferation of Web sites coupled with the propensity for discipline to generate its own indiscipline generates the possibility of capitalizing on inattentiveness." (152)

Stratagem 13: Brains beyond language

Stratagem 14: Keep your stratagem secret as long as possible

Stratagem 15: Take care of the symbols, the sense will follow

Stratagem 16: The Creativity of Matter

"Material violence can itself be actively employed for its productive value within media forms, demonstrating something of a continuum in evil media from the semiotic to the physical." (157)