Author Archives: nathanjurgenson

Self Out Of Time

Lewis Powell (1865)

Lewis Powell (1865)

Go read “Dead And Going To Die”, a beautiful essay by Michael Sacasas posted today at The New Inquiry on the subjectivity expressed by people in old photographs. Part of why subjects look different in these images is they are expressing a different subjectivity to the camera lens. As the photographic gaze went from novelty to ubiquity, we’ve collectively oriented our selves to the camera differently. (more…)

In Their Words

Raw video of the quadcopter drone flight and crash on the streets of Manhattan

you cannot take a picture without involving an act of selfishness

The anxiety some people feel over the mass advent of digital is not unreasonable but their response to it often is

the Bluetooth RoboRoach, the first cyborg to be commercially available to the general public

TV has gotten a lot more intimate, more entwined with our subconscious, closer

Facebook’s temporal orientation puts undue pressure on its users to conform to its system(more…)

In Their Words

damn girl are you horse_ebooks because so many dudes got upset when they found out that you are a real human being

the Horse e-books fiasco suggests that we are more than ready to mistake bots for humans and vice versa

Why is it so much easier to blame Facebook than look at the misogyny & hatred it reflects?

the ipad pathetically asks: “Do you still think I’m pretty?”, shifting the gendered allusions into full culmination(more…)

In Their Words

The fact that the Supreme Court itself has links to its own Web site that no longer function shows the depth of the link rot problem

In some circles, being inaccessible is a status symbol

the intention behind the looking matters the most

clothing that does not move, rigid materials that force a body into an idealized appearance

romance was alive and well in the Instagram iteration of their marriage

“That’s boring,” thought BuzzFeed, deciding to place photographs of five nipples above that explanation

Guys who try to hit on you by asking if you want to try on their Google Glass

Jesse Pinkman’s Roomba Starting bid: $200(more…)

Of Bots And Humans


what’s a bot and what’s human and where do we draw the line and should we draw that line

Yesterday, we learned that the most infamous Weird Twitter account, @Horse_ebooks, wasn’t a algorithmically-programmed “bot” but instead the product of a person tweeting as if. The revelation was accompanied by a live performance of the account in a Manhattan art gallery. While much is being written about the account, I’d like to share one thought about the live performance and what this all says about what is real and virtual, “bot” and human. In one day, @Horse_ebooks went from bot to human, and as I’ll argue, embodied in an art gallery, right back towards bot. (more…)

In Their Words

gif of a gif

‘Like’ Is Protected Speech, Appeals Court Says

Since the promise of money is broken, far out of reach, young people’s currency is attention

The imagined traces of my would-be scrobbling seemed like photographs for sound: scrobble, or it didn’t happen

The organisms are probably not alive, but, excitingly, probably do contain DNA

“Work” trains us to pay special attention to tempo, and this habit follows us into our leisure time

Social media, of course, is both a mirror and an audience at once

War on Instagram: Framing conflict photojournalism with mobile photography apps

Nathan is on Twitter [@nathanjurgenson] and Tumblr []. (more…)

In Their Words

toward an understanding of being human that contains being online

it’s mind-boggling that Business Insider hired a CTO who doesn’t even understand that the Internet is real life

Titstare got “very loud applause.” Bros are pack animals

a larger project to make Facebook’s public interactions not just public but visible

Siri might not want to be like you. Siri might want to be Siri

Nathan is on Twitter [@nathanjurgenson] and Tumblr [].

Digital Connection, Language, And Family

This was a lead image in a story from the New York Times titled, “Your Phone Versus Your Heart“. Let’s break this image down, shall we?

Becoming a parent has inflected how I see everything in the world, including the practice of “being online.” I apologize for using scare quotes so soon into this essay, but it feels necessary. “Online” contains several types of possible connection, as Jenny Davis and others at Cyborgology have argued. And the “being” part is what needs to be at stake: how does the way in which we exist change when that existence is networked and distributed? The anthropology of “being online” therefore includes a consideration of the ontological effects on people as much as empirically measurable effects of using iPads and Facebook.

A common narrative, and one Cyborgology has consistently disputed, is that “technology” or “social media” or “the digital” have impinged on an authentic mode of life that previously existed and which we retroactively call “offline.” This narrative relies on constructing images that can quickly code as “authentic,” as in this video that Nathan Jurgenson has dissected. The graphic above, from a New York Times essay, crystallizes this narrative as it makes us of family and child-rearing as an icon of authentic offline living. Devices and the information they present come between a parent and the child. They blot out the child’s pleading face. Tellingly, the phone is represented as blank–the viewer is not asked to make a judgment about the value of what the person is doing with the phone (checking Twitter? responding to an email? calling 911?), they are asked to condemn its vacuity. (more…)

In Their Words

how people use music when doing intellectual labour: people use it as a symbol to say ‘keep away from me’

Ever buy a movie on iTunes instead of downloading it for free on The Pirate Bay? Yeah, keep not doing that

the surprisingly broad overlap between prison & museum design

If schools follow dualist specifications, education becomes less in tune with the way students actually consume texts

the Introversion Meme is the newest face on a many-headed hydra of conservative backlash against a changing society

they’re more than capable of fucking with minds. I’m looking forward to more games that fuck with mine

with Glass, the contents of your screen are a mystery to others(more…)

In Their Words

A link that disappears after a certain number of people have seen it

the solution is not to imagine technology free of societal constraints but to fully engage with all of its messy human implications

as managing editor of, I want our readers to know this: All you are to us are eyeballs

a place where CEOs, venture capitalists and startuppers can network

re: sonic/musical trolling, I would put forth Cage’s 4’33″ as the seminal example

Social media invite experiments in inertia, continual additions & variations on themes hard-coded into platforms

PornHub has just released a big, ol’ sticky mess of data about the country’s porn habits(more…)