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Hello Everyone,

We are excited to announce that co-editors David A. Banks and Jenny Davis will be guest editing a special issue of the open access journal Social Sciences on Social Media, Internet, and Society. The CFP is below and we hope to get lots of submissions from the extended Cyborgology family! CFP and submission instructions are below and here.


2MRYUkUWhat causes someone to turn to radical ideology and violence? It’s an important question, and one that has occupied the pages of many a newspaper, magazine, and blog as of late. In the case of ISIS, blame gets directed at many targets—the “backwardness” of Islamic beliefs, decades of military actions in the Middle East, global warming, Western-backed corrupt governments in the region, and of course, the internet. As Kashmir Hill notes in this excellent essay:

“Technology and the internet are being invoked in fearful terms because it is easier to point the finger there than unpack the multifold and complicated reasons behind these acts—the growth of hateful ideologies, racial and ethnic tensions, the ease of buying semi-automatic weapons, the long-term effects of an ongoing war waged by drones, and twisted minds that embrace violence.”


A cupcate with red icing that makes it look like a brain.

Barring some extreme changes in the political climate the following will be true of the American electorate in 40 years: There will be no living memory of a time when real income rose for anyone but the super wealthy. No one, save the oldest citizens will have had a post-9/11 adulthood with all of the normalization of war that entails. Schools will be understood as prime targets for extreme acts of violence even as rates of property and violent crime fall in the aggregate. The total lack of confidence in all established institutions with the exception of police, military, and small business will continue as major cities are washed away as governments look on and refuse to invest in any kind of infrastructure. This will also be happening as America reaches a major demographic milestone: whites (as we presently define them) will no longer be a statistical majority.

Given this sort of potential future, we should take a look at how younger people, respond to the kind of political rhetoric that is endemic to crisis, uncertainty, and fear: fascism. Everyone from Jeb Bush to your favorite anarchist barista knows and has said in no uncertain terms that Donald Trump is a fascist. One might be heartened to see that younger voters have not responded well to Trump’s campaign. According to RealClearPolitics, less than 2 percent of Trump’s supporters are under 30. According to Pew, only a third of millennials identify as Republicans while half identify as Democrats. An optimist might see this as a younger, more politically progressive electorate rejecting hate and fear mongering but I am more skeptical. Afterall, there is not a whole lot of ideological space between Trump’s “ban all muslim immigrants” and Democratic candidates’ universal agreement around the continued bombing of muslims using flying robots. Would if it’s just the messaging that turns Millennial away?  Would if people who have spent most of their lives in the 21st century, do not respond the same way to 20th century authoritarianism? Any surprise at the popularity of the Trump brand is rooted in a willful ignorance of widespread, explicit white supremacy. What is more terrifying still, is that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands millions of Americans that think Trump does not go far enough. Even if Trump loses this time, we should take note of what his campaign reveals: a nascent and likely growing nationalist movement in America. One that I suspect will be fully baked and equipped with more effective messaging by the time post-millenial generations make up the majority of the voting public. more...

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.35.18 PM

This year I was able to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for the second time. As only a casual programmer, I am an odd attendee, but the event supports a cause I care deeply about: getting and retaining more women in technology and engineering roles. GHC is an exhilarating mixture of famous keynote speakers, girl power workshops, tech demonstrations, and a “swag” filled career fair. On Day 1 I was definitely into it:

But this year, unlike last year, the shiny newness of GHC had worn off a bit, and I started to notice a few things that bothered me. As a mainstream conference, GHC is made palatable to the widest possible audience of women, men, and businesses (because in America, they count as people too!). Being palatable means the conference doesn’t critically engage with many important issues and is therefore open to a variety of critiques. For one, its feminism is of the Lean In© variety, so it doesn’t really engage with the intersection of race, class, and gender [PDF] in tech companies. GHC also supports an, at times, obscene and gratuitous display of wealth, with “The Big Three” of Silicon Valley (Google, Facebook, and Apple) competing to outspend each other putting on the biggest recruitment show. Maybe I have the start of a series of posts on my hands… more...


Academia is in the midst of a labor crisis. With two-thirds of instructional faculty made up of contingent workers (i.e., adjuncts) a critical mass of dissatisfied—and often hungry— advocates are joining together to decry the unacceptable working conditions within historically sacred institutions of higher education. And with new adjunct unions forming regularly, the movement is taking on undeniable prevalence.

But it is more than just a growing quantity of under-paid, over-burdened, college educators that has fostered a national movement, it is also the availability of digitally mediated platforms through which these workers can connect, aggregate data, and share personal and collective stories with a larger public. That is, digital media has been instrumental in creating this particular counter-public.

Contemporary social movements are inevitably augmented, with digital and physical inextricably tied. In the case of adjuncts, however, digital media plays an especially crucial role. Of course I can only engage in informed speculation, but I don’t believe the adjunct movement would be a movement at all (or at least not much of one) without Internet technologies. This has to do with the material and social realities of contingent labor within higher-ed. more...

I thought for reruns week I would re-post something I wrote back in February that fits with our ongoing CFP on Small Town Internet. Problems of governance, especially of small, geographically defined groups, is surprisingingly understudied especially when it comes to our present state of augmented reality. 

The Albany New York Town Hall
The Albany New York Town Hall


It is certainly good news that the Obama Administration has come out strong for net neutrality. The President recently made an announcement that his office would help promote local broadband competition as part of a broader effort to improve the country’s data infrastructure. More specifically, the federal government plans to help municipalities develop their own data networks, fight state laws that prevent municipal governments from offering public broadband options, and help small businesses compete in local markets with companies like Verizon and Time Warner. The chairman of the FCC followed suit by announcing (in WIRED Magazine…?) yesterday that he would be circulating a proposal to apply Title II to telecom companies and mobile phone carriers, effectively making it illegal to throttle connections based on what sorts of services you are connecting to. This is all good news but I’m also hesitant to trust local authorities with my internet connection. Aren’t these the same governments that defend murderous police forces and cooperated with the federal government to shut down political dissent? Why should these organizations control the network? While I am definitely not a fan of huge telecom corporations, I don’t trust my local government either.  more...

This is a cross-post from Its Her Factory.

Frank Swain has a hearing aid that sonifies ambient WiFi signals. A Bluetooth-enabled digital hearing aid paired with a specially programmed iPhone (and its WiFi detector), the device, named Phantom Terrains, “translate[s] the characteristics of wireless networks into sound….Network identifiers, data rates and encryption modes are translated into sonic parameters, with familiar networks becoming recognizable by their auditory representations.” The effect, Swain says, is “something similar to Google Glass – an always-on, networked tool that can seamlessly stream data and audio into your world.” (I’ll leave the accuracy of this comparison to people who have thought more about Glass than I have.)

Why would anyone want to do this? What’s the point of being able to sense, to detect and interpret, the flows of data that are transmitted in your environment? For Swain and his collaborator Daniel Jones, data transmissions are just as much a part of the material, engineered, designed, and planned environment as roads, pipes, and buildings are. We exist in a “digital landscape,” and just like all landscapes, this one has a social meaning and a politics. “Just as the architecture of nearby buildings gives insight to their origin and purpose, we can begin to understand the social world by examining the network landscape.”



The mobile phone camera has become an embedded tool of protest. It has given rise to the citizen journalist and is a key mechanism by which surveillance is countered with sousveillance. In a New Media & Society article earlier this year, Kari Andén-Papadopoulos names this phenomena citizen-camera witnessing. This is a ritual through which bodies in space authenticate their presence while proliferating images and truths that contest with the stories told by The State.  The citizen camera-witness is not merely witnessing, but bearing witness, insisting upon articulating, through image, atrocities that seem unspeakable. Indeed, as W.J.T. Mitchell compellingly claims: Today’s wars and political conflicts are to an unparalleled extent being fought on behalf of, against and by means of radically different images of possible futures.

The failure to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown and the protests that continue to follow, set the stage for drastically different futures. The way we tell this story will guide which future is most plausible, most logical, and most likely.   more...



Edward Snowden is a very smart and courageous person. He has a brilliant mind for identifying important information and deciding who should know it and when–– what is typically called “operational security” or OpSec. It is the kind of rarified skill that quickly earned him a top spot in a private intelligence corporation before achieving the dubious honor of best known whistle blower. That being said, I have one simple request for media outlets: stop interviewing Snowden. more...



Pulled from the archives, here are some posts we’ve written on the (sexy/racist/postmodern) ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that pervade our augmented society.


Cultural Appropriation: Halloween’s Post-Modern Problem by PJ Rey

Modern Myths: Mundane Enchantment and Creating Ghosts by David A Banks

The Atemporality of “Ruin Porn” The Carcass & the Ghost by Sarah Wanenchak

And the email was coming FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE by Sarah Wanenchak

The Zombie in Film (FULL ESSAY: Parts I, II, and III) by Dave Paul Strohecker

Have an Anti-Racist Halloween: Some Materials From Around The Web by Jenny Davis

Postmodern Ghouls by Jenny Davis

Yet Another LiveJournal Post by David A Banks