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Insect Media, The 6 Legged Book

March 2, 2011

I’ve recently got my copy of Jussi Parikka‘s Insect Media. Here’s some more about the book…

In terms of social media culture, the notions of swarms, hive minds and collective intelligence in distributed networks have been harnessed as part of the business discourse of the 21st century. Even if originating as part of the 1990s cyberenthusiasm for the Internet, they gained another chance during the recent years of Web 2.0 when finally the amateur spirit at the core of the Internet project was discoverd as a possible revenue stream. As analyzed by many network theorists including Terranova, the harnessing of free labour as part of the Web 2.0 logic was part and parcel of this neobiologism of networks. Web 2.0 rediscovered sociability; the chattering, relating, friend-seeking, affective and non-rational but emotional human being who shared, talked, commented and contributed. Suddenly such bad subjects of 20th century as anarchism and communism were part of the web 2.0 capitalism discourse.

I’m only in the early stages of the book, but so far it is great.  It is a discussion about the idea of non-human media, of the technologies employed by insects to communicate.  It is about swarm intelligence and post-human ideas of data flow:

The nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of media was already filled with such “hidden themes” of alternative media.  within the majoritarian joining of technology-state-human being we find cracks and varia: the early modern media sphere incorporated in its phases of emergence a panorama of ideas and view of media and technology (even though, one should note, the term media is much younger in its present usage) in which processes of transmission, calculation and storage were not restricted to technical media that we would normally understand by the term (twentieth-century mass media from cinema to radio to television and network media such as the Internet). Parikka 2010: xvii

The biomedia aspects of the book are great and I will need to read more to account for the ideas into my PhD work.  I’m glad that it seems Parikka’s ideas mesh with my own (which means less rewriting, or should I say re-wiring of my work!)  But this is not the first of his books I’ve come across.  So far I’ve read one other of his past books in my PhD work, Digital Contagions, which looked at idea of the virus within the digital. It’s a good book and helped me a lot. It’s also, like Insect Media, back in the realms of biomedia – a subject of immense interest to me, given my PhD is about evolution and media…

Cover of Insect Media

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