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Digital Contagions

A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses

Series:

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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Afterword: An Accident Hard, Soft, Institutionalized

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afterword An Accident Hard, Soft, Institutionalized Instead of a summarizing “Conclusion” that would attempt to close down the discussion, the function of this short “Afterword” is to show some new themes that have emerged in discussions concerning viruses and digital security. This is to very briefly complement some of the historical discussion in the book, and demonstrate both continuities and discontinuities in how security folds as part of digital culture. In many ways, one can speak of the persisting theme of how accidents fold as part of digital service economy, platforms, and the generalized zigzagging of security and insecurity from the personal to the cor- porate transactions. Security itself has become a contagion—a generalized affect, business themes, product, and political tool. And it has happened at the same time as the massive popularity of social media platforms, issues of data leaks, surveillance, and the generalized issues of trust all permeate our interactions. So what’s even an accident in this situation? What’s there in an accident? Clearly, a lot more than first meets the eye. Accidents are rich events: they suddenly reveal much more than the actual accident taking place, and they unfold into a new sort of a time, situation: we see things differently after an accident. The burst tire opens up a whole different assemblage for the after- noon than what was planned: a 100-kilometer road trip turns into an acute 248 digital contagions awareness of location, mobile signal reach, delays and rescheduling, insurance issues, and more—a...

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