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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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A Note on Sources Digital Contagions is formed of the various articulations of viruses in computer science, media representations (newspapers, magazines, television reports), and other products of media culture, such as films and science fiction litera- ture. A number of the sources are written from a more or less “official” point of view. Professionals in computer science are often guided by technical inter- ests, and much of the virus literature since the mid-1980s has underlined their maliciousness. The popular press was often found following such articulations, even though I have tried also to find opposing expressions on the topic. To find the alternatives within these discourse networks I have followed fiction literature, underground sources, such as the Computer underground Digest, and, for example, some computer art projects and activist groups. The corpus of these sources was formed by a systematic excavation of written materials, such as Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), one of the leading publications within computer science. In addition, such professional publications as Scientific American, Computer Fraud & Security Bulletin, Virus Bulletin, Computers & Security, and Computer Law & Security Report have provided me with valuable sources toward a scientific understanding of viruses and worms and similar computer 266 digital contagions programs. In addition, I have used conference proceedings from the antivirus business from the beginning of the 1990s on and invaluable Web resources archiving key discussions in computer security and the underground, for example, the Computer underground Digest and the Risks Digest Forum Archives. These sources have...

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