book: Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses (Digital Formations) by Jussi Parikka




Joseph Nechvatal
Mid-September 2007, Marrakech


Though no J. G. Ballard or William S. Burroughs, Jussi Parikka nevertheless sucks us into a fantastic black tour-de-force narrative of virulence and the cultural history of computer viruses (*), followed by innumerable inquisitive innuendoes

We may wish to recall here that for Deleuze and Guattari, media ecologies are machinic operations (the term machinic here refers to the production of consistencies between heterogeneous elements) based in particular

To begin this caliginous expedition, Digital Contagions plunges us into a haunting, shifting and dislocating array of source material that thrills. Parikka launches his degenerate seduction by drawing from, and intertwining in a non-linear fashion, the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (for whom my unending love is verging on obsession), Friedrich Kittler, Eugene Thacker, Tiziana Terranova, N. Katherine Hayles, Lynn Margulis, Manuel DeLanda, Brian Massumi, Bruno Latour, Charlie Gere, Sherry Turkle, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Deborah Lupton, and Paul Virilio. These thinkers are then linked with ripe examples from prankster net art, stealth biopolitics, immunological incubations, the disassembly significance of noise, ribald sexual

Jussi Parikka

Jussi Parikka studied Cultural History at the University of Turku, Finland, and is currently Visiting Lecturer and Research Scholar in Media Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin. His Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses is published by Peter Lang, New York, in the Digital Formations series (2007). In addition, two co-edited books are forthcoming: The Spam Book: On Viruses, Spam, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture and Media Archaeologies. Parikka’s homepage is <>.

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book on amazon

Node magazine started based on William Gibson’s new novel, Spook Country!

Listen to latest Gibson audio interview here

William Gibson

Listen to William Gibson
Part one (runs 13:16) | Part two (runs 17:03)

CBC Radio One site and info

 September 19, 2007


William Gibson Bookclub

This week on the podcast a special audio bookclub with award-winning author William Gibson.



“Someone’s already named a Web site after NODE, the nonexistent magazine in “˜Spook Country,’ “ [Gibson] said. “It’s sort of scary.” – Chris Watson, Bookends: William Gibson explores the science fiction of the here-and-now in his new novel [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

From from

“Someone has a website going where every single thing mentioned in Spook Country has a blog entry and usually an illustration so, every reference, someone has taken it, researched it and written a sort of little Wikipedia entry for it and all in the format of a website that pretends to be from a magazine called Node,

W. Gibson shows up in Second Life!

Media Ecology Association – 2007 Awards Announced

MEA recently announced the winners of the 2007 (for year 2006) MEA Awards.

The Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book
in the Field of Media Ecology

Peter K. Fallon for Printing, Literacy, and Education in Eighteenth Century Ireland: Why the Irish Speak English

The Walter Benjamin Award for Outstanding Article
in the Field of Media Ecology

Corey Anton for “Playing with Bateson: Denotation, Logical Types,
and Analog and Digital Communication”

The Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship
in the Ecology of Social Interaction

Richard A. Lanham for The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information

The Susanne K. Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship
in the Ecology of Symbolic Form

Martin H. Levinson for Sensible Thinking for Turbulent Times

The Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship
in the Ecology of Culture

David MacDougall for The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses

The Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship
in the Ecology of Technics

Timothy C. Campbell for Wireless Writing in the Age of Marconi
and to
Fred Turner for From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

The Harold A. Innis Award for Outstanding Thesis or Dissertation in the Field of Media Ecology

Adriana Braga for Feminilidade Mediada por Computador: Interação Social no Circuito-Blogue [Computer-Mediated Femininity: Social Interaction on the Blog Circuit]

The Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work

Janna Levin for A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

The John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis
in the Field of Media Ecology

Michael Wesch for The Machine is Us/ing Us (video on

The Louis Forsdale Award for Outstanding Educator
in the Field of Media Ecology

Octavio Islas

The Jacques Ellul Award for
Outstanding Media Ecology Activism

Donna Flayhan

The James W. Carey Award for
Outstanding Media Ecology Journalism

Philip Marchand

The Walter J. Ong Award for
Career Achievement in Scholarship

Jay David Bolter

The Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement
in Public Intellectual Activity

Eric McLuhan

Why texting harms your IQ

From The Times
April 22, 2005

Txts n emails mk ppl stupid coz they R worse than smking pot & lead 2 a st8 of ‘infomania’

By Michael Horsnell
THE regular use of text messages and e-mails can lower the IQ more than twice as much as smoking marijuana.

That is the claim of psychologists who have found that tapping away on a mobile phone or computer keypad or checking them for electronic messages temporarily knocks up to 10 points off the user’s IQ.

This rate of decline in intelligence compares unfavourably with the four-point drop in IQ associated with smoking marijuana, according to British researchers, who have labelled the fleeting phenomenon of enhanced stupidity as “infomania”.

Research on sleep deprivation suggests that the IQ drop caused by electronic obsession is also equivalent to a wakeful night.

E. Howard Hunt names the men who killed Kennedy

I’m not familiar with, but they tell the story of a recording E. Howard Hunt made on his deathbed. The tape was recently made public by Howard Hunt’s son, Saint John Hunt. On the tape Howard Hunt describes a bitter LBJ and his involvement with the murder of JFK. Hunt names others who were involved in the conspiracy. Five minutes of the tape were aired recently on
There is a direct link to the mp3 file here.

What’s been bugging me about it is, what if it’s true? I mean – just for a minute – inhabit a world where the Kennedy assassination has been solved- We know who did it, who helped who and why.
Now what?
How is justice served over 40 years later? Who’s going to pay?
What does it mean? What would change?
How do I heal, or why, or who cares?
Is it just miscellaneous information?

A Literate Plea To All Patriots

I am getting ready to move, and all is in flux. It could be said my entire life has been in flux since I was a youngin, but I really mean it now.

I had started writing a book, and then found I needed to re-evaluate my approach. I altered my outline, but now the project is tabled until I get settled in my new town. lately, I’ve been boxing and tossing the flotsam that’s somehow ended up in my apartment during the past 11 months.

Now, I must admit I have a chronic habit with used book stores, and I feel compelled to spend my last dollar supporting the efforts of a class of True Heroes in American culture, used bookstore proprietors. Thus, as I try to move, and am packing up my belongings, it should not be surprising that I have a severe lack of furniture, and a plethora of additional books.

Packing my books in boxes is an agony. For every title, I ask myself, will I want to read this in the next month? Will I want to access some nugget of information only to found in this very book? Will I be desperately afloat, alone, without a liferaft, if I don’t have access to this gem of a book? Ultimately, I have to “man up” and put it in the box for storage. I just don’t have enough room in my van to keep all I want available. It is an obsession, and I probably need therapy. But since I hurt no one else, and I am a fairly functioning member of society, I will continue to forego that route, and collect my treasures.

The problem with moving to a new town and having an incredible library is that boxes of books are the heaviest of all household items. As I put Economics in one box, and American history in another, I have to fill up the box only so much, or I won’t be able to carry it. That means having some Economics books in another box that is only half full, so I have to put some other subject in there as well. In my obsession, those other books must be at least somewhat related in topic, or else I will be obliged to title the entire box Miscellaneous. But too many Miscellaneous boxes means they could be organized better, and so on and so on.

Clearly, I do have a problem. But it will no longer be a problem when I eventually settle down into my own space and create a library unparalled in my social circle (if I have one)! I will then be surrounded with the entire recorded history of the world about me: science when I need it, history when I want it, art when I desire it. The sensuality of it all brings me to breathless orgasm just thinking about it.

Used bookstore owners don’t make big bucks. They do what they do for the love of books and each used bookstore reflects that love in a personal way. Some shops are chaotic piles of books spilling into the aisles. When no more room on the shelves exists, books are heaped on the floor in piles that occasionally tumble over and ask for even the customer’s attention. The proprietor will often be an elderly gentleman hunched at the register amidst his own pile of literacy, as well as lunch.

Other stores are carefully organized with all books shelved neatly in their own sections. As there is no one way to organize these sections, some shop owners will seperate hardbacks and paperbacks, while others will put them both together by subject. Some shop owners will put biography in a seperate section, while others will put a biography in the History section for its appropriate timeline. Sometimes martial arts is in the sports section, while other shops will place it in the religion section under Buddhism.

Going into a used bookstore and unlocking the code to it’s design is one of the most enjoyable activities that I’ve ever experienced. I could spend an entire afternoon in a decent book shop inspecting every single shelf, and sweeping my eyes over every single spine I see. It is not by chance that most of my friends, and virtually all the men in my life, have been of similar ilk. A fun date for me is a visit to a local bookshop and then food. Any friends who would be mpatient while I visually caress each adventure that rests on a used book store shelf would not be long in my life. For years, my best girlfriend was one with whom I could vacation with, and we would both read while we ate at the restaurants. Some people would find that rude, but we both appreciated that time, and considered it spent “together”, and not at all ignoring each other.

The Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon has a wonderful selection of used book stores. In the small town of Ashland alone, there are three used bookstores and one new bookstore. There are two used bookshops 5 miles down the road in Talent. And in Medford, I’ve been to three excellent used bookshops. And that is not even counting the thrift stores which also have quite an excellent selection.

When I was in a bookshop the other day, looking at their language section for a Chinese dictionary, a woman turned to me and asked, “Have you shopped here before?” “Yes”, I replied. Then she asked, “Can you tell me how you know what the price of the book is?” I explained to her that in used bookstores, the price is usually written in pencil in the upper right-hand corner of one the first pages in the book. “Oh!”, she exclaimed, surprised and happy.

Clearly, there are many people in our society that have lived decades without purchasing a single used book. What a tragedy. And this is probably why independent bookshops are disappearing all over the country. We know McLuhan observed “Literacy is on the slide” and that is reflected directly in the used bookstore business.

I have often dreamed of having my own bookstore, but that would mean parting with my best friends. Years of Zen study (that is, reading about Zen in books!) has not diminished my materialistic tendencies in this respect. I must admit, I am a hoarder. But somebody’s got to do it.

I urge everyone to seek out these oasis’ of culture, these sanctuaries of independent thought, and use your federal reserve notes to help preserve the proud spirit of liberty that exists there. Strengthening the used bookstore business is one way everybody can participate in a political action that is not confined to any particular affiliation, be it liberal or conservative. Supporting used bookshops is a general support of democracy precisely because you are supporting independent thought, as well as local business, and keeping desperately needed wealth in the neighborhood.

So, where are the independent bookshops in your neighborhood? Have you been in them lately? Then spend an afternoon browsing the aisles and soak up some of histories finest ideas. And spend a few dollars on something that will not only inspire you, but inspire that proprietor of the shop, that brave and lonely soul who gives all for the love of books, to live another day.

McLuhan Meeting Notes

Just a brief collection of notes from today’s McLuhan meeting.
We read pgs. 169-172 of Marshall’s (Amazon) Take today; the executive as dropout.
Again we are amazed at the insights a book published 35 years ago provides to us today.
Kerry Thornley (Wikipedia) was the co-founder (with Greg Hill) of Discordianism.
My curiosity was piqued after listening to an R.U. Sirius (mp3) interview with Adam Gorightly on the subject of Rightly’s new book (Amazon) The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture.

What happened to   Ward Churchill (Wikipedia) in the aftermath of his controversial 911 article? (Basically he’s appealing the Standing Committee’s finding that his research was flawed while awaiting sanctions yet to be determined.)

Michael made a point I felt worth repeating, although I’m only paraphrasing…
“The Republicans own the infrastructure i.e. the hard assets – they don’t care if they bankrupt the country, they’ll just re-monetize in the new currency- it’s the rest of us who will be screwed.”

Pinchbeck on The Colbert Report. (Comedy Central- fast internet and computer required.)

Until next time.

Space Race Part II

Recent headlines about the destruction of a Chinese weather satellite by one of their own missiles had US officials quoted in wide-eyed surprise claiming the act threatened US-China relations and escalated the weaponization of space.
Of course, the hundreds of billions of dollars the US has spent on ballistic missile defense and research into smaller “useable” nuclear weapons with its own kill vehicles positioned on land and sea aimed at sites across the world speaks volumes about the US’ position on the weaponization of our planet.
It is also doubtful that the Chinese action was a surprise to intelligence professionals. Reports six months ago alleged the Chinese “illuminated” a US satellite using a laser. With this short burst of directed energy, it is believed China wanted to not only demonstrate its power, however briefly, but also gauge US reaction to it. This latest incident has brought China-US relations into a new level of experimentation and started Space Race II, the Sequel.
As far as space is concerned, the field has evened in recent years, and the US no longer has the edge, or prestige, that it used to. China has conducted manned missions into space, becoming the third country to do so, behind Russia and the US.
Changes in export laws fostered the creation of a network of businesses outside of US that has quietly developed to supply and build space assets for peaceful as well as military applications with no American involvement. Deals have been made between China, Russia, Europe, and Middle Eastern unilaterally. Middle Eastern, African, and South American countries are having satellites built in Europe and launched by Russia.
Space shuttle disasters and the subsequent reneging on International Space Station agreements have put world partners in a position where they just don’t trust American commitments. Russia and Europe are partnering on a Mars mission, without US participation.
The latest move by China will only exacerbate the stubbornness of the US to stay the course and isolate itself further. We can expect to see the rhetoric become frothier. US solicitations for partnerships on both military and civilian projects with even longterm partners will most likely be politely turned down. And what about Poland? Eastern block countries will likely join the European Union for any space related activity.
Ironically, this act by China comes during a milestone anniversary, for it was October 4, 1957 that the Russians launched the first artificial satellite into orbit around the Earth. Sputnik, a word meaning “traveling companion”, was a 184 pound ball that continuously transmitted a signal alternating in 20 and 40 MHz that radio enthusiasts around the world were able to pick up with inexpensive commercial equipment, enabling amateurs to track the satellite globally as it sailed above in low Earth orbit. The constant beeping irritated US officials who not only feigned surprise, but were also led to publicly state that it wasn’t much of a big deal.
Of course, behind the scenes, American intelligence had many reports on Russian progress in rocketry. The US had a rocket program decades old, and plans for orbiting their own satellite. But the successful launch of Sputnik changed the dynamic. Officials knew they had to move quickly to gain supremacy in space and government support moved with it. The Space Race had begun. Suffering many losses in dollars and prestige, American efforts were finally rewarded and it was eventually won by the US with the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon.
Sputnik disregarded the lines that separate nations and lorded over the planet wholly. The basketball-sized orb named Sputnik revealed to people around the world that space travel, till then only a dream, was indeed possible. “Sputnik and the moon shots brought about, in effect, the institution of a new kind of global theater, in which all men become actors and there are few spectators. The population of the world is both the cast and content of this new theater. The repertory of the theater consists of a perpetual happening, which can include the retrieval or replay of any previous happening that men choose to experience.” Marshall McLuhan Culture is Our Business pg 145 It was Marshall McLuhan who noted that man-made satellites, encircling the Earth, made Nature into an art piece. The world became a global village.
The destruction of this weather satellite by China is to be abhorred for many reasons, not the least of which is the huge cloud of debris now in orbit, adding to the flotsam that endangers spacecraft and astronauts alike. Estimates are that only 10% of all space junk is tracked, and even the tiniest pieces can cause catastrophic damage. Hitting a satellite could have meant destruction, hitting an astronaut could have meant death.
All wars are fought with the latest technology available and Sputnik started the third world war where information is the weapon. Space Race II is this very moment starting in a world very different from 50 years ago. The US is no longer the world leader it was. No longer do we have the resources, money, or trust of the people, to build a new infrastructure of war and weapons in space in the name of a “defense” strategy. No doubt attempts will continue, but it may be a last gasp of American hegemony.
The Doomsday Clock was recently moved to five minutes till midnight indicating our increased vulnerability to nuclear weapons. On this 50th anniversary of Sputnik, our challenge today is to check the drive for control of Earth and space and keep from destroying the very the very planet we need for our survival as a species. Can world governments find a way to cooperate and move our planet into the 21rst century with a minimum of tragedy?

Welcome – What could we do here?

I know it looks like it has a McLuhan theme, and it could, but initially I was thinking it would simply be a way for us to communicate with each other easily, i.e. Gerry’s Dudley films, events Michael’s going to, Robin observations on the road etc. You can post pictures. Videos as well, but I’ll have to sort out those details as things evolve. If they evolve. At the very least I’m going to use it to post links to McLuhanesque newspaper articles, etc.