Category Archives: materality of computation

Google, Culture, Computationalism

This sort of story captures what i see as one of–perhaps the–most paradigmatic manifestations of computationalism. I have noticed how much more streamlined, clean, and professional Google’s designs have been recently. It never occurred to me to think about how their design team works, although i spent lots of time working at this interface. It […]

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Not Everything, But… (Toyotatron)

I don’t mean to blame every bad thing in the world on computerization–but I think it is crucial part of computationalist discourse that when a critique of computerization is offered, instead of rebutting the critique, the answer is usually to raise some putative good that computers do (this is a pattern I encounter in person, […]

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More Popular than Avatar

The following hour-long satirical Chinese machinima video quickly garnered 10 million or more viewers. “New York City based trends research and innovation company” PSFK quotes this description from Chinese media blog DigiCha: The film tracks the fight between The9 and Netease over the renewal rights to Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the requirement that skulls […]

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Searching Every Text Message (We Are Building Big Brother #1)

It’s long been rumored that US intelligence agencies are capable of monitoring every form of electronic communication. In recent stories about Chinese internet and wireless surveillance, it’s become clear that this technology exists and is widely used. Is it used just to prevent “terrorist attacks,” however we define that? thanks to the national security state, […]

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From “” to “onmousemove=’google&&google.fade&&google.fade()’”

Google became dominant in part because of its simplicity: it does one thing very simply and very well. We all understood this principle, Google especially, and it was reflected primarily in its most public face: its basic search page at That page, we all know, features (for the most part) just one thing to […]

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19 Minutes Ago, or, Networks Are Not Inherently Emancipatory (What Are Computers For? #34986732)

jihadist website

Original reportage by Michael Holden of Reuters. Experts Say West Can’t Stop Web Radicalization Tues, Nov 6, 2007 By Michael Holden 19 minutes ago LONDON (Reuters) – From behind a computer keyboard at his London home, student Younes Tsouli used the Internet to spread al Qaeda propaganda, recruit suicide bombers and promote Web sites […]

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Claritas PRIZM Marketing Segments (What Are Computers For? #X-7)

Claritas PRIZM image

Long gone from the servers, company itself swallowed several times, preserved for later analysis (see the discussion on pages 131-142 of The Cultural Logic of Computation). This is only the marketing literature for a program that was far more detailed and targeted than even this may appear; it demonstrates fairly clearly how racial and economic […]

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Bar-Coding Every Living Thing (What Are Computers For? XXVIIXVII)

From The Globe and Mail, Feb 18 2007. DNA ‘bar-codes’ Help Find New Species Posted AT 1:27 PM EST ON 18/02/07 ALLISON JONES credit improvementyour credit score thisdread recordings uk Canadian Press TORONTO — Canadian researchers have co-authored a biodiversity study on DNA “bar-coding” they say will pave the way for cataloguing the world’s organisms […]

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One Generation Is All They Need (What Are Computers For? #4975)

This nightmare scenario appeared as news in the Toronto Star recently, despite being pretty much just an op-ed. Some of the things he says strike me as not off the mark, and not quite what anyone else has said recently (though look at what the kids are up to in 1984… for some similar concerns, […]

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