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Digital Contagions

A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses, Second Edition


Jussi Parikka

Now in its second edition, Digital Contagions is the first book to offer a comprehensive and critical analysis of the culture and history of the computer virus.
At a time when our networks arguably feel more insecure than ever, the book provides an overview of how our fears about networks are part of a more complex story of the development of digital culture. It writes a media archaeology of computer and network accidents that are endemic to the computational media ecology. Viruses, worms, and other software objects are not 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.
Mapping the anomalies of network culture from the angles of security concerns, the biopolitics of computer systems, and the aspirations for artificial life in software, this second edition also pays attention to the emergence of recent issues of cybersecurity and new forms of digital insecurity. A new preface by Sean Cubitt is also provided.


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To make a book happen, a lot of things need to be in place: these range from institutions to funding and, importantly, to intellectual networks and friend- ships. This is a second revised edition of the book that came out in 2007, but I will extend many of the thanks across these 10 years. The book itself has changed in many ways; I have added text, and taken out some; I have edited and revised, fine-tuned, tweaked, and added some new sections, including the Afterword. As for thank yous, I am grateful to the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Jenny & Antti Wihuri Foundation, and also to the TIESU-project, funded by the Research Program for Advanced Technology Policy (Proact), the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the National Tech- nology Agency (Tekes) for providing support for the initial research in 2003– 2007. Institutionally, I want to thank my alma mater, Cultural History and also Digital Culture at the University of Turku (Finland). A major part of this work was written “in-transit,” and I want to extend a thank you for their hos- pitality to the departments of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam (Thomas Elsaesser) and the Berlin Humboldt University (Wolfgang Ernst). For granting the time and the possibility to do the editing, revisions, and addi- tions, I thank my current institution, the University of Southampton (Win- chester School of Art), for the support. viii digital contagions There are many individuals to thank. Hannu Salmi, Matthew Fuller, and Jukka...

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