Friday, September 25, 2015

Call for Papers – Machine Communication

communication +1 invites submissions for its upcoming issue, “Machine Communication.”
Edited by David Gunkel and Zachary McDowell

With this special issue we hope to explore the boundaries of communication beyond the human subject and the restrictions of humanism by considering that which is radically other – the machine. We seek articles that interrogate the opportunities and challenges that emerge around, within, and from interactions and engagements with machines of all types and varieties. By examining the full range of human-machine interactions, machine-machine interactions, or other hitherto unanticipated configurations, we hope to assemble a collection of ground-breaking essays that push the boundaries of our discipline and probe the new social configurations of the 21st century. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  1. Algorithmic Culture – Influence of machines on human or other non-machine culture
  2. Automation – Drones, Robots, or other automated systems that exist in the world and take part in a variety of tasks
  3. Artificial Intelligence – Either the possibilities of AGI (artificial general intelligence) or more specific smart systems
  4. Big Data, Deep Learning, Neural Networks and other recent innovations in computer science
  5. The Internet of Things
  6. Cybernetics, Bioinformatics, Knowledge Representation, or various applications of Software Theory.

Please submit short proposals of no more than 500 words by December 13th, 2015 to

Upon invitation, full text submissions will be due April 5th, 2013, with expected publication in September, 2016.

About the Journal

The aim of communication +1 is to promote new approaches to and open new horizons in the study of communication from an interdisciplinary perspective. We are particularly committed to promoting research that seeks to constitute new areas of inquiry and to explore new frontiers of theoretical activities linking the study of communication to both established and emerging research programs in the humanities, social sciences, and arts. Other than the commitment to rigorous scholarship, communication +1 sets no specific agenda. Its primary objective is to create is a space for thoughtful experiments and for communicating these experiments.

communication +1 is an open access journal supported by University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries and the Department of Communication

Editor in Chief: Briankle G. Chang, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Managing Editor: Zachary J. McDowell, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Advisory Board:
Kuan-Hsing Chen, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Bernard Geoghegan, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt, Germany
Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
David Gunkel, Northern Illinois University
Catherine Malabou, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Jussi Parikka, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
John Durham Peters, University of Iowa
Johnathan Sterne, McGill University
Ted Striphas, University of Colorado, Boulder
Greg Wise, Arizona State University

For more information or to participate in the project, please email


Friday, September 18, 2015

We’re Hiring!

I can’t say enough great things about my new professional home, the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder (which, while we’re at it, is part of the newly-created College of Media, Communication, and Information). And I’m delighted to share this news: we’re hiring not one, not two, but three new faculty members to help take one of the very best programs in the country to the next level.

Here are the job descriptions:

  1. Assistant Professor in Communication, Civic Engagement, and Race/Ethnicity
  2. Assistant or Associate Professor in Communicating and Organizing
  3. Assistant or Associate Professor in Discourse and Society

These are going to be highly sought-after positions, so put your best foot forward.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

One Year Later…

Can it really have been over a year since I last posted on Late Age of Print? Evidently, yes, which is hard to believe, given how regular I was at posting during the first three or so years of this blog. It seems almost too glib to say this, but life has been almost unimaginably busy, especially over the last year.

I’m writing from my beautiful new surrounds in Boulder, Colorado. Much of what consumed my time over the last year was the reorganization—and eventual dissolution—of my previous department, Communication & Culture, at Indiana University. It was time for a change, and I’m delighted to have joined the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It’s a place teeming with energy and good feeling, not to mention brilliant faculty and students who are already challenging me in new ways.

I’m also thrilled to be a part of the newly-minted College of Media, Communication, and Information, the institutional umbrella under which Advertising & PR, Communication, Critical Media Practices, Information Science, Intermedia Arts, Writing, & Performance, Journalism, and Media Studies are all gathered. This seems to me precisely the way in which Communication and Media ought to be organized in and for the 21st century. We’re headed by Dean Lori Bergen.

One important last bit of news: I’ve managed to secure Open Access rights to just about all of my published journal articles and have made them freely available through my page on (I’m also working on making them available through SSRN.) Download and enjoy.

I have at least one more announcement—not about me—that will be coming in the next week or so, so you can anticipate waiting less than year between blog posts. ��



Monday, February 17, 2014

Lawrence Grossberg Memorializes Stuart Hall

The last post over on my other blog (The Late Age of Print) was dedicated to Stuart Hall, likely the most significant international figure in the field of cultural studies, who died last week at the age of 82. Lawrence (Larry) Grossberg, my doctoral advisor, has penned a moving tribute to Hall, his mentor, with whom he worked at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in 1968-1969.  Here is an excerpt from the piece, which appeared this past Saturday on Truthout:
When I think of Stuart, I think of an expanding rich tapestry of relations, not of followers and acolytes, but of friends, students, colleagues, interlocutors, participants in various conversations, and anyone willing to listen, talk and engage. Stuart Hall was more than an intellectual, a public advocate for ideas, a champion of equality and justice, and an activist. He was also a teacher and a mentor to many people, in many different ways, at many different distances from his immediate presence. He talked with anyone and everyone, and treated them as if they had as much to teach him as he had to teach them.
Hall's work was as much about the interpersonal—his kindness, charisma, and generosity—in other words, as it was about the many influential writings and lectures he produced over the course of his career. I wish I'd had the chance to get to know Hall better.

I had the privilege of sharing a meal with him once, in 1996, during my second year of graduate school. He was extraordinarily gracious and, indeed, patient, as I barraged him with what must have been dilettantish questions.  Afterwards we shopped for books at a nearby used bookstore.  I still have the copy of Erving Goffman's Asylums that I happened to pick up that day; even now I  associate the book more with Hall than with its author.

 I also got to know Hall indirectly, through a study of the Birmingham Centre annual reports, which I conducted with my friend and colleague Mark Hayward.  Hall's imprint is all over those documents, and not only because he authored the bulk of them.  In their inventory of daily life at the Centre one can plainly see Hall's emphasis on the interpersonal—in the way the Centre's working groups were organized; in the spirit of sharing that so defined its (as well as his own) intellectual modus operandi, and that had more than a little to do with cultural studies' success; in the way Hall empowered students to collaborate in the production of a serious academic journal; and certainly more.

 Larry's tribute to Hall is also a call, too: for the American mainstream media to pay heed to such an influential figure, one whose passing has not received the attention it deserves; and for the American Left to embrace Hall's legacy, a legacy defined not only by his towering intellect but, equally important, by his luminescent being-in-the-world.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I'll Tumble for Ya

Because I know people inhabit multiple platforms online, I'm pleased to announce that I'm now on Tumblr.

Don't worry—I'm not shutting down this blog.  But if it wasn't obvious already, I've had difficulty  keeping up with Differences & Repetitions, a result, mainly, of my academic workload.  Since I love blogging but have less time to deliver substantive content, I figured Tumblr would be the perfect place to engage in some of the work I do here, albeit in shorter form.  You can still expect to see extended meditations on books, algorithmic culture, and other topics on this blog, at least from time to time.  But if you're looking for regular content, then my Tumblr's the place for you.

I'm excited about Tumblr because, as I'm learning, it seems to be as much (if not more) about curation as my own commentary.  I like the idea of being a little less "bloggy," as it were, and instead sharing a range of artifacts that say something about my disposition toward the world.  That's largely how I've been approaching Twitter over the last few years, as it turns out, which is something that my recent forays into Tumblr have helped me to see.  But sometimes I've felt constrained on Twitter because of the 140 character limit.  I appreciate how Tumblr gives me an opportunity to say a little more, absent the compulsion to be overblown.

I should mention that my Tumblr is all about you, too.  Many of the stories I've shared on Twitter and elsewhere have been sent to me by friends/colleagues/acquaintances, and I'd like to keep the tradition alive as I move into Tumblr.  And of course, you can expect credit where credit is due. Always.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 Translation

Great news, y'all. A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of the Korean translation of my book, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture From Consumerism to Control! I'm thrilled, needless to say, and even a bit surprised. Last summer the publisher of the English language edition, Columbia University Press, let me know that the translation was in the works, but honestly I didn't expect it to surface for...oh, I don't know, a few years, I suppose. And yet, here it is, now. Can't you tell how giddy this makes me?

A big thanks to Columbia U.P., the Korean Publishing Association, and the translator for all of their dedication to the project.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Billion Dollar Book

About a week ago Michael Eisen, who teaches evolutionary biology at UC Berkeley, blogged about a shocking discovery one of his postdocs had made in early April. The discovery happened not in his lab, but of all places on

While searching the site for a copy of Peter Lawrence's book The Making of a Fly (1992), long out of print, the postdoc happened across two merchants selling secondhand editions for -- get this -- $1.7 million and $2.2 million respectively! A series of price escalations ensued as Eisen returned to the product page over following days and weeks until one seller's copy topped out at $23 million.

But that's not the worst of it. One of the comments Eisen received on his blog post pointed to a different secondhand book selling on Amazon for $900 million. It wasn't an original edition of the Gutenberg Bible from 1463, nor was it a one-of-a-kind art book, either. What screed was worth almost $1 billion? Why, a paperback copy of actress Lana Turner's autobiography, published in 1991, of course! (I suspect the price may change, so in the event that it does, here's a screen shot showing the price on Saturday, April 30th.)

Good scientist that he is, Eisen hypothesized that something wasn't right about the prices on the fly book. After all, they seemed to be adjusting themselves upward each time he returned to the site, and like two countries engaged in an arms race, they always seemed to do so in relationship to each other. Eisen crunched some numbers:
On the day we discovered the million dollar prices, the copy offered by bordeebook [one of the sellers] was1.270589 times the price of the copy offered by profnath [the other seller]. And now the bordeebook copy was 1.270589 times profnath again. So clearly at least one of the sellers was setting their price algorithmically in response to changes in the other’s price. I continued to watch carefully and the full pattern emerged. (emphasis added)

So the culprit behind the extraordinarily high prices wasn't a couple of greedy (or totally out of touch) booksellers. It was, instead, the automated systems -- the computer algorithms -- working behind the scenes in response to perceived market dynamics.

I've spent the last couple of blog posts talking about algorithmic culture, and I believe what we're seeing here -- algorithmic pricing -- may well be an extension of it.

It's a bizarre development. It's bizarre not because computers are involved in setting prices (though in this case they could have been doing a better job of it, clearly). It is bizarre because of the way in which algorithms are being used to disrupt and ultimately manipulate -- albeit not always successfully -- the informatics of markets.

Indeed, I'm becoming convinced that algorithms (at least as I've been talking about them) are a response to the decentralized forms of social interaction that grew up out of, and against, the centralized forms of culture, politics, and economics that were prevalent in the second and third quarters of 2oth century. Interestingly, the thinkers who conjured up the idea of decentralized societies often turned to markets -- and more specifically, to the price system -- in an attempt to understand how individuals distributed far and wide could effectively coordinate their affairs absent governmental and other types of intervention.

That makes me wonder: are the algorithms being used on Amazon and elsewhere an emergent form of "government," broadly understood? And if so, what does a billion dollar book say about the prospects for good government in an algorithmic age?