Tony D. Sampson: Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (2012)

22 August 2013, dusan

“In this thought-provoking work, Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Virality does not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors. It instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is not necessarily a positive or negative force of encounter; it is how society comes together and relates.

Sampson argues that a biological knowledge of contagion has been universally distributed by way of the rhetoric of fear in the antivirus industry and other popular discourses surrounding network culture. This awareness is also detectable in concerns over too much connectivity, such as problems of global financial crisis and terrorism. Sampson’s “virality” is as established as that of the biological meme and microbe but is not understood through representational thinking expressed in metaphors and analogies. Rather, Sampson interprets contagion theory through the social relationalities first established in Gabriel Tarde’s microsociology and subsequently recognized in Gilles Deleuze’s ontological worldview.

According to Sampson, the reliance on representational thinking to explain the social behavior of networking—including that engaged in by nonhumans such as computers—allows language to overcategorize and limit analysis by imposing identities, oppositions, and resemblances on contagious phenomena. It is the power of these categories that impinges on social and cultural domains. Assemblage theory, on the other hand, is all about relationality and encounter, helping us to understand the viral as a positively sociological event, building from the molecular outward, long before it becomes biological.”

Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2012
ISBN 0816670056, 9780816670055
235 pages

Review: Jussi Parikka (Theory, Culture & Society)
Book video (University of Amsterdam students)

Author’s research blog

PDF, PDF (updated on 2017-9-29)

Alexander Bard, Jan Söderqvist: The Futurica Trilogy (2012)

30 December 2012, dusan

“In the late 1990’s, Swedish social theorists Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist started working on a radical new theory, since referred to as The Netocracy Hypothesis. At this early stage Bard & Söderqvist foresaw that the control of the internet would be the subject of the main power struggle for the next century; an outright war between a brand new rising elite (the netocrats) and an established but rapidly declining elite (the bourgeoisie). They made predictions against the tide in the early years of the new millennium (and cleverly foresaw both the dot com crash and September 11), and have since then been proven right in virtually every aspect and even in the most minute of details. Not only did Bard & Söderqvist foresee revolutionary innovations such as Google, Facebook, Al-Qaida and Wikileaks, they also went deeper and looked beyond where any other observer has been or managed to go, into the very power struggle of the on-going revolution. Now, for the first time, all three of Bard & Söderqvist’s groundbreaking works have been collected and released as one compact set, under the title The Futurica Trilogy. The first book is The Netocrats (explaining how the internet creates a new global upper class which fights and destroys the old stuggling power structure); the second book is The Global Empire (dealing with the worldview of the netocrats and how it radically differs from any previous ideology in history); and the third book is The Body Machines (discussing how the idea of what it means to be human in an interactive world radically differs from any previous concept of human existence).”

Originally published in Swedish in 3 volumes: Nätokraterna (2000), Det globala imperiet (2002), and Kroppsmaskinerna (2009).
Translated by Neil Smith
Publisher Stockholm Text, 2012
ISBN 9789187173035
740 pages

video interview with the authors (2008)



Barbora Buchtová: Mapování internetových memů v prostředí blogosféry a sociálních sítí (2011) [Czech]

20 February 2012, dusan

S nástupem fenoménu, který bývá mnohdy označován jako web 2.0, se začal značně rozmáhat trend sociálních sítí a blogingu. Pokud se na sociální sítě a blogosféru podíváme pod drobnohledem, zjistíme, že jsou uskupeny z mnoha memů, které v jednotlivých blozích a sociálních sítích kolují a tím je navzájem propojují. Zároveň se však jednotlivé memy v průběhu doby vyvíjí a proměňují. Tato magisterská diplomová práce popisuje vývoj a pohyb internetových memů prostřednictvím teorie sítí. Na základě aplikace blogové ontologie (BloOn) se pokuší vylíčit blogosféru a sociální sítě jako komplexní systém skládající se z mnoha vzájemně propojených elementů a vazeb mezi nimi. Zároveň se snaží memy v prostředí blogosféry a sociálních sítí klasifikovat a systematizovat nástroje, které dokáží internetové memy mapovat, dle metod webové memetiky. V závěru práce je možné naleznout analýzu komparující tři komerční nástroje určené pro monitoring sociálních sítí a blogosféry.

Diplomová práce
Masarykova Univerzita, Filozofická fakulta, Informační studia a knihovnictví/Informační studia a knihovnictví
Vedoucí práce: Michal Lorenz
Brno: FF MU, 2011

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