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Digital Contagions

Parikka, Jussi

Digital Contagions

A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses

Series: Digital Formations - Volume 44

Year of Publication: 2007

New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2007. VIII, 327 pp.
ISBN 978-0-8204-8837-0 pb.  (Softcover)
ISBN 978-1-4331-0093-2 hardback  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.480 kg, 1.058 lbs

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Book synopsis

Digital Contagions is the first book to offer a comprehensive and critical analysis of the culture and history of the computer virus phenomenon. The book maps the anomalies of network culture from the angles of security concerns, the biopolitics of digital systems, and the aspirations for artificial life in software. The genealogy of network culture is approached from the standpoint of accidents that are endemic to the digital media ecology. Viruses, worms, and other software objects are not, then, seen merely from the perspective of anti-virus research or practical security concerns, but as cultural and historical expressions that traverse a non-linear field from fiction to technical media, from net art to politics of software. Jussi Parikka mobilizes an extensive array of source materials and intertwines them with an inventive new materialist cultural analysis. Digital Contagions draws from the cultural theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Friedrich Kittler, and Paul Virilio, among others, and offers novel insights into historical media analysis.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Jussi Parikka is Reader in Media & Design at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). He is the author of Insect Media (2010) and co-editor of The Spam Book (2009) and Media Archaeology (2011). Parikka’s homepage is http://www.jussiparikka.net.


«Inspired by the work of Paul Virilio, Friedrich Kittler, and Gilles Deleuze, this book chronicles the contemporary digital landscape through the menagerie of email worms and computer viruses that infect and define it. A self-described media archeologist, Jussi Parikka is both theoretically nuanced and technically detailed, a welcome relief coming on the heels of dotcom hysteria over digital hygiene. The result is a becoming-viral of today’s technological culture. It is essential reading for anyone infected by the digital contagion.» (Alexander R. Galloway, Assistant Professor, Department of Culture and Communication, New York University; Author of ‘Protocol and Gaming’)
«‘Digital Contagions’ is the first book to look at the computer virus as a historical and cultural phenomenon, rather than simply as a technological issue. It brilliantly recounts the history of the emergence of such viruses in the context of other epidemics, and how these different kinds of contagions are ineluctably bound together in our technologized, digital culture. The book is an essential text for helping us come to terms with the massive changes this emerging culture is bringing about.» (Charlie Gere, Reader in New Media Research, Lancaster University; Author of ‘Digital Culture’ and ‘Art, Time and Technology’)


Digital Formations. Vol. 44
General Editor: Steve Jones