Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Select publications, lectures, media projects, and preprints, are linked in the post below. Please consult the source journals or books for the corrected and definitive final texts. And if you want the deep cut: A few of these essays, as well as at least one unpublished essay, are also presented in separate posts below with supplementary abstracts and commentary.
My CV is here.
"The Cybernetic Apparatus: Media, Liberalism, and the Reform of the Human Sciences." Northwestern University and Bauhaus University of Weimar. 2012.
Select Peer-Reviewed Essays
"Information in Formation." Rough draft of a short essay on the gradual emergence during medieval and modern times of understandings of the world as discrete, serial, empirical, subject to measurement and so on, leading to the rise of information theories in the twentieth-century. A revised version of this essay will appear in a collection of Digital Keywords edited by Ben Peters and published by Princeton University Press. This essay is doubly-inflected insofar as it suggests that contingency of how we define and understand information but also the centuries-long developments in fields such as natural philosophy that effectively preclude the realization of alternate understandings of information outside that proposed by engineers in the mid-twentieth century. I wrote this essay while in residency at the IKKM and it shows traces of the reading I undertook at the time of IKKM director Bernhard Siegert's book Passage des Digitalen. That's partly why the rough draft of this text appears on a blog dedicated to that book.
"In Memoriam: Friedrich A. Kittler, 1943–2011." Critical Inquiry 41, no. 2, 2015.
“After Kittler: On the Cultural Techniques of Recent German Media Theory." Theory, Culture & Society 60, no. 6, 2013.
“Cybernetics” (with Ben Peters). In The Johns Hopkins Guide to the Digital Media, eds. Lori Emerson, Benjamin Robertson, and Marie-Laure Ryan. Johns Hopkins University Press. Rough draft of a text that appeared in print in 2014.
“Catching up with Simondon” (with Mark Hayward). SubStance. Vol. 41, no. 3, 2012.
“La cybernétique « américaine » au sein du structuralisme « français ».” La Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances. Vol. 6, no. 3, 2012.
“From Information Theory to French Theory: Jakobson, Lévi-Strauss, and the Cybernetic Apparatus.” Critical Inquiry. Fall 2011.
“Agents of History: Autonomous Agents and Crypto-Intelligence.” Interaction Studies, 2008, Vol. 9, No. 3., pp. 403-414.
“The Historiographic Conception of Information: A Critical Survey.” IEEE Annals on the History of Computing, January-March 2008, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 66-81.
Select Popular and Non-Referred Works
"Untimely Mediations: On Two Recent Contributions to 'German Media Theory'." Paragraph 7, no. 3, 2015. Of my various lectures and texts touching on emerging questions in so-called German media theory, this is my favorite. It's short and to the point and, stylistically, it captures something germane and even intrinsic to the subject matter it treats.
“On Kulturtechniken.” Interview and commentary for Oklahoma Public Radio, April 2012.
“The Tongue of the Eye” (from French to English) by Bernard Stiegler. Translated by Thangam Ravindranthan, with Bernard Geoghegan. In The Philosophy of the Image. Eds. Jacques Khalip and Robert Mitchell. Stanford University Press. 2011.
“Metropolitan Time: Cultural Techniques of Urban Synchronization” (from German to English) by Christian Kassung. For presentation in an English-language lecture series held in Guangzhou, China, October 2012. Publication forthcoming. Feel free to contact me if you would like a copy in the meanwhile.
On Gilbert Simondon: Individuation and Technics. Co-edited with Mark Hayward. SubStance. Vol. 41, no. 3, 2012.
2012— “Cultural Technologies: Dialogues on Media, Art and Science.” Podcast. Host, producer, editor.
2007 “La Modernité sans la Modernisation.” Digital video with online distribution platform. Directed by Bernard Stiegler and produced by the Institute for Research and Innovation (Pompidou Center). Produced and edited interviews featuring Bernard Stiegler, André Green, Jean-Luc Nancy, Kevin McLaughlin, Dominique Lecourt and others. Discussion of project online here.
MP3s of a few of my Lectures
"The Technologies of Liberalism." Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft, 2011.
"The Difficulty of Gift-Giving: Lévi-Strauss and the Technologies of Man." Franke Institute, University of Chicago. 2012.
"On the Communicative Networks of Spiritualism." Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, November 2013.
Abstract: World War II research into cryptography and computing produced methods, instruments and research communities that informed early research into artificial intelligence (AI) and semi-autonomous computing. Alan Turing and Claude Shannon in particular adapted this research into early theories and demonstrations of AI based on computers’ abilities to track, predict and compete with opponents. This formed a loosely bound collection of techniques, paradigms, and practices I call crypto-intelligence. Subsequent researchers such as Joseph Weizenbaum adapted crypto-intelligence but also reproduced aspects of its antagonistic precepts. This was particularly true in the design and testing of chat bots. Here the ability to trick, fool, and deceive human and machine opponents was a premium, and practices of agent abuse were admired and rewarded. Recognizing the historical genesis of this particular variety of abuse can help researchers develop less antagonistic methodologies.
Commentary: This essay was an early attempt to consider how cultural, historical, technical, and linguistic fields intersect within the history of computing, and an early attempt to think through the development of concepts of "code" within computer science. As with the Historiographic essay, it was also an attempt to enter into dialogue with practitioners in computer science. It's based on another paper I presented and published in connection to an international conference on human-computer interaction. In the intervening years I've been intermittently working on a short book monograph entitled "Human-Computer Iteration," and this paper is an early ancestor of that project.
Abstract: The historical pedigree and meaning of ‘‘information’’ has been hotly contested since its scientific definition in the 1940s. Scientists have authored very different explanations for the origins of informational research, the scope of information theory, and the historical significance of its findings. This survey classifies the historical literature into genres, offering a view into the changing environment of computer research.
Commentary: This essay is a few years old now, and in retrospect I realize that much of its agenda is implicit, so perhaps a few marginal comments are helpful. The main goal of this essay was to prepare a literature review of the historiographical literature on scientific definitions of information, mostly in relationship to information theory and cybernetics. In this regard, the essay is a critical, historiographical, and somewhat reflexive update (homage, even) to William Aspray’s 1985 essay "The Scientific Conceptualization of Information." In particular, I was interested in some of the ways research in the science studies, literary studies, and media studies had, in the intervening years, began to develop broader accounts of the cultural and political dimensions of scientific conceptions of information. At the time I was also quite taken with essays by the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault, which argued that historiography -- the writing of history -- plays a role in constituting power and shaping history, and that part of the task of historiography is to strategically position the writing of history in relationship to the present. With that in mind, I was interested in trying to examine how an ever-shifting historical present organized and re-organized historiographic accounts of "information." In particular, I wanted to see how even "scientific" accounts of "information" had a certain politics of knowledge inscribed within them. Finally, the IEEE Annals is one of the few academic journals with contributions from historians and practitioners of computing, so I tried to present this research and questions in a style that didn't scream "poststructural theorist" or "constructionism," and which could engage readers audiences who, under other circumstances, might have been skeptical of critical or cultural historiography.