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'Copyfight', Critical Keywords for the Digital Humanities (Lüneburg: Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University, 2014).

Open Education: A Study in Disruption (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2014) - book co-authored by Coventry’s Open Media Group and Mute Publishing, and designed as a critical experiment with collaborative, processual writing. (Open access version available here.)

A performative project Janneke Adema has put together, based on our ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’ article for New Formations.

Cover

'Towards a Post-Digital Humanities: Cultural Analytics and the Computational Turn to Data-Driven Scholarship', American Literature, Volume 85, Number 4, December, 2013.

Pirate Philosophy

'Pirate Radical Philosophy', Radical Philosophy: A Journal of Socialist and Feminist Philosophy, 173, May/June, 2012.

Piracy and the law

Lecture on pirate philosophy

Special issue of Culture Machine on pirate philosophy

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here, in the OA archive CSeARCH or in Coventry University's online repository CURVE here

'The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists' Books and Radical Open Access' (co-authored with Janneke Adema), Materialities of the Text issue of New Formations, Number 78, Summer, 2013.

Forget the Book: Writing in the Age of Digital Publishing, with Doug Sery, Sean Cubitt and Sarah Kember, CREATe at Goldsmiths, University of London, 25 May, 2013.

Lecture on 'Radical open access in the humanities: or, will the future editors of Žižek have to publish his tweets?' at Columbia University

Wednesday
Sep102014

Rethinking Gamification and meson press

Mercedes Bunz, Marcus Burkhardt & Andreas Kirchner, who are colleagues of mine in the Hybrid Publishing Lab at Leuphana,  University of Lüneburg, have announed the first publication of their newly founded open access publishing project, meson press:

Rethinking Gamification, edited by Mathias Fuchs, Sonia Fizek, Paolo Ruffino, and Niklas Schrape

'The main task of rethinking gamification today is to rescue it from the gamifiers.'
- Sebastian Deterding

About the Book
The phenomenon of gamification marks a major change to our lives: today, we find game-elements such as awards, rule structures, and interfaces inspired by video games everywhere around us. After corporations, states have started to use gamification as a tool to govern populations more effectively. It promises to fix what is wrong with reality by making every single one of us fitter, happier, and healthier. But is society up for being transformed into one massive game?

The contributions in this book offer a candid assessment of the gamification hype. They explain its novel design practices and methods as well as they trace back the historical roots of the phenomenon. They present artistic tactics for resistance, and critically discuss its social implications.

It is time to rethink gamification!

The pdf edition can be downloaded freely at www.meson-press.com.

Language: English | Publishing Year:  2014 | Softcover | 346 pp. | 6.14 x 9.21" / 23.4 x 15.6 cm
ISBN (Print): 978-3-95796-000-9 | ISBN (PDF): 978-3-95796-001-6
RRP (Print): EUR 15.00 / GPB 12.00 / USD 19.00

Contents
Mathias Fuchs, Sonia Fizek, Paolo Ruffino, and Niklas Schrape: Introduction

Resetting Behaviour
Niklas Schrape: Gamification and Governmentality
Paolo Ruffino: From Engagement to Life, or: How to Do Things with Gamification?
Maxwell Foxman: How to Win Foursquare: Body and Space in a Gamified World
Joost Raessens: The Ludification of Culture

Replaying History
Mathias Fuchs: Predigital Precursors of Gamification
Felix Raczkowski: Making Points the Point: Towards a History of Ideas of Gamification

Reframing Context
Fabrizio Poltronieri: Communicology, Apparatus, and Post-History: Vilém Flusser’s Concepts Applied to Videogames and Gamification
Thibault Philippette: Gamification: Rethinking ‘Playing the Game’ with Jacques Henriot
Gabriele Ferri: To Play Against: Describing Competition in Gamification

Reclaiming Opposition
Daphne Dragona: Counter-Gamification: Emerging Tactics and Practices Against the Rule of Numbers
Matthew Tiessen: Gamed Agencies: Affectively Modulating our Screen and App-Driven Digital Futures

Remodelling Design
Sonia Fizek: Why Fun Matters: In Search of Emergent Playful Experiences
Scott Nicholson: Exploring the Endgame of Gamification
Sebastian Deterding: Eudaimonic Design, or: Six Invitations to Rethink Gamification

Thursday
Aug282014

A Very Brief History of Neoliberalism: From the Open Society to the Sharing Economy

As is well known, one of the main influences underpinning the interest of the UK Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government in open access, open data, open education and open government is Karl Popper’s philosophy of scientific method. For Popper, ideas are true only until they can be proved false. He thus emphasises the importance of having an open society to enable its ideas to be constantly tested through scientific experimentation as a means of guarding against authoritarianism.



In keeping with the neoliberal desire to minimise the role played by the state in society, the coalition government have adopted a variation of Popper’s philosophy to justify reforming public services. They have done so on the grounds that it is not just the state that knows how to supply such services – a multiplicity of others do too, including privately owned for-profit businesses. The relevant information and data, including that produced by academic research, therefore needs to be made openly available to the public so that ideas of how such services can be provided and funded can likewise be subject to continual testing and experimentation. And indeed privatisation.

Interestingly, however, a number of texts published just this month - Mike Bulajewski’s 'The Cult of Sharing', Evgeny Morozov’s 'What You Whistle in the Shower: How Much for Your Data?' – have begun to portray this opening up of information, data and services as part of a further shift still. It is a shift in which state regulated service intermediaries like hotels and taxi companies are replaced by information and data management intermediaries such as the sharing economy start-ups Airbnb (a community marketplace for renting out rooms) and Uber (an app that enables passengers to connect with a taxi, private car or rideshare using their mobile phones).

As far as comprehending the latest developments in contemporary neoliberalism is concerned, the important point to note is that, by avoiding pre-emptive state regulation, these profit-driven sharing economy businesses are able to operate according to what can be understood as both a pre- and post-welfare state model: 'social protections for workers are minimal, they have to take on risks previously assumed by their employers, and there are almost no possibilities for collective bargaining'. It is a situation that often leaves those providing services on the platforms of these sharing economy companies labouring for less than the minimum wage and without a host of workers’ rights. The list of lost benefits is certainly a long one. It includes 'the right to have employers pay social security, disability and unemployment insurance taxes, the right to family and medical leave, workers’ compensation protection, sick pay, retirement benefits, profit sharing plans, protection from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age or national origin, or wrongful termination for becoming pregnant, or reporting sexual harassment or other types of employer wrongdoing'.

Tuesday
Jul012014

PhD Studentships in Digital Media

Eligibility: UK/EU Students Only
Award Details: Tuition Fees + Maintenance grant:  £13,726 per year
Duration: 3 years Fixed Term (Sept 2014 start)
Application deadline: 25 July 2014
Interview Dates: 3 September 2014

The Project

Coventry School of Art and Design conducts world-leading research and is offering exciting PhD opportunities through a number of bursaries for students, to work with our professors and other researchers:

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-students/research-studentships/phd-studentships-in-art-design-media-and-performance/

In addition to more mainstream approaches, research projects may be practice-based where appropriate. They will be pursued within or across our broad research areas of industrial/transport/3D design, performing arts, creative arts, and media and we are particularly interested in the following (with potential supervisor shown):

Digital Media (Professor Gary Hall)

Email: gary.hall@coventry.ac.uk

Digital Media - specifically, the development of a critical Digital Humanities that explores how open access, open knowledge, open data, p2p networks, distributed media or ‘internet piracy’ can be used to  creatively disrupt core arts and humanities concepts such as the author, subjectivity, originality, the book, the archive, ownership, copyright and the (post)human.

The topic is part of a larger critical and creative investigation in the school into Disruptive Media and Open Media. As such, the successful candidate will be part of a team of researchers, Research Fellows and PhD students with many contacts in the UK and internationally through their work on projects such as Culture Machine, Open Humanities Press, Living Books About Life and Disrupting the Humanities.

Candidate specification:
A good honours degree, and ideally an MA, in an appropriate digital media-related subject.

Eligibility:
Only UK/EU citizens may apply with the academic requirements as listed on: http://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-students/research-entry-criteria/

Application Procedure:

For an application form please click here.

Complete the application form and return with a covering letter to:

Research Recruitment and Admissions team
RAO
Student Centre
Coventry University
Priory Street
COVENTRY
CV1 5FB
United Kingdom

Email: research-apps.pg@coventry.ac.uk

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof Martin Woolley.

For more about studying at Coventry, see here.

Monday
Jun232014

Centre for Disruptive Media: Our take on disruption

Disruption, as a term and theory, has been the subject of much discussion lately in both the mainstream and social media – a level of interest that has only increased as a result of Jill Lepore’s June 23, 2014 article for The New Yorker, ‘The Disruption Machine: What the Gospel of Inovation Gets Wrong’. In this article Lepore debunks some of the myths surrounding Clayton M. Christensen’s concept of disruptive technology, a concept the latter uses to develop his influential theory of the innovator’s dilemma. As a way of intervening in this debate, we, as the Centre for Disruptive Media, would like to articulate our own particular take on disruption. The text below is an extract from our forthcoming book, Open Media: A Study in Disruption. Written by myself, Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Ted Byfield, Shaun Hides and Simon Worthington both as a creative experiment with processual modes of writing, and as part of a collaboration between the Centre for Disruptive Media and Mute Publishing, this book is due to appear from Rowman and Littefield International later in 2014.



The term disruption has its origins with the economic theory of Karl Marx, according to which capitalist development occurs as a result of the creative destruction of the previous economic system. For Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, ‘conservation of the old modes of production’ was the ‘first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes.’ By contrast, the bourgeoisie ‘cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society’. The concept of creative destruction was subsequently adapted in the 20th century by the economist Joseph Schumpeter to refer to the cycle of business innovation, what is now sometimes known as ‘Schumpeter’s gale’. Disruption has been given a further spin more recently by Christensen in the guise of disruptive technology. A disruptive technology, for Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma, is one that facilitates the production of a new market and a new network of values, and eventually succeeds in disrupting an already established market and value network.

Why, as researchers working in media and cultural studies, philosophy, critical theory, media arts, digital culture and politics, are we making such prominent use of a concept – disruption – that, for all its origins in the ideas of Marx, is far more readily associated with business, management and the market? We are doing so, firstly, because it is impossible to escape the market entirely today – and this is especially true of those of us who work in the university. And, secondly, because escaping the market would not necessarily be desirable anyway. As Jacques Derrida contends in Echographies of Television, a distinction needs to be made between ‘a certain commercialist determination of the market’, with its emphasis on ‘immediate monetaristic profitability’, and a sense of the market as a ‘public space’, which is actually a ‘condition of what is called democracy, the condition of the free expression of any and everyone about anything or anyone in the public space’. Accordingly, the approach we are adopting in relation to disruption involves drawing on theorists such as Marx, Derrida, Foucault and Badiou to develop a critical and creative approach to management, business and the market – and, with them, to the becoming business of the contemporary university.

We are taking this approach, not with the intention of somehow leaving capitalism and the market – or the university, for that matter – behind and replacing them with something else, such as ‘the commons’ or even communism. The problem with such a directly oppositional or dialectical stance is that it risks recreating, albeit in a different form, the very thing one is trying to escape (i.e. a system based on hierarchisation and competition, not least in relation to rival systems). Even the notion that the theory of disruption has been 'debunked' by Jill Lepore can be seen as part of the cycle of market innovation by which we are constantly encouraged to move on to the next new thing and leave the now old and unfashionable behind: the latter taking the form of the theory of disruption itself in this case. And that is before we even begin to address the fact that what Lapore’s New Yorker article challenges is not so much the idea that capitalism develops by ‘constantly revolutionising the instruments of production’ - that the emergence of digital photographic technology has ‘creatively disrupted' the analogue photographic industry, say. What Lepore challenges in the main is the rigour of Christensen’s research regarding the handpicked case studies he uses to demonstrate his concept of the ‘innovators dilemma’,  on the grounds that many many of the companies that are his case studies are selectively chosen and that they don't match his theory.

Instead, we are adopting Derrida’s procedure for reading Hegel’s dialectic according to a non-oppositional difference in ‘From Restricted to General Economy: A Hegelianism Without Reserve’, and following the logic of capitalism and the market through ‘to the end, without reserve’ – to the point of agreeing with it against itself and, in this way, transforming it radically from within. Or, if you prefer things in language derived from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, we are developing immanent forms of critique: critique not so much as a negative refusal of contemporary capitalism as an ‘affirmative or inventive’ means of mutating it.

What this means as far as disruptive technologies specifically are concerned is that we are conceiving them as forms of what Bernard Stiegler refers to as mnemonics (cultural memory), and what Plato described as pharmaka, or substances that function, undecidably, as neither simply poisons nor cures. As Stiegler maintains when arguing that the ‘task par excellence for philosophy’ today is the development of a ‘new critique of political economy’ that is capable of responding to an epistemic environment very different to that known by Marx, this ‘economy of the pharmaka is a therapeutic that does not result in a hypostasis opposing poison and remedy: the economy of the pharmakon is a composition of tendencies, and not a dialectical struggle between opposites.’ Rather than reject or critique such technologies outright, he suggests we need to explore how some of the tendencies of which our current economy of the pharmakon is composed can be deployed to give these technologies new and different inflections. Just as businesses use disruptive technologies as a form of innovation to create new markets and new value networks, according to Christensen, so we are using them to disrupt dominant understandings of business and the market.

Disruption here is therefore at least double in nature: it is a means of creating innovation for companies and thus helping to support the creative economy and find new sustainable business models so that art and culture, together with their potential transformative effects, can flourish, or at least survive, as public space in the neoliberal era; but it is also a means of generating new forms of critique and of creating different alternatives. Almost inevitably, the latter is in turn capable of providing a means for creating further business innovation in what amounts to a continual process, cycle or feedback loop, something that has been captured diagrammatically by Tatiana Bazzichelli in her account of networked disruption in relation to art and hacktivism. For Bazzichelli, ‘the goal is not to frontally oppose the adversaries, but to trick them by “becoming them”, embodying disruptive and ironic camouflages. Bypassing the classic power/contra-power strategy, which often results in aggressive interventions that replicate competitiveness and the violence of capitalism itself, to apply disruption as an art form means to imagine alternative routes based on the art of staging paradoxes and juxtapositions. Disruption becomes a means for a new form of criticism’.



This approach to disruption on our part can take the form of both: studying disruptive technologies, including those associated with telephones, mobiles and smart phones (in the Centre for Disruptive Media we have developed a creative archiving and digitisation research strand that includes the digitization of British Telecom’s Archive, for example); and experimenting with the development and use of disruptive media technologies, including those associated with open source software, collaborative web tools, open access, mobile and geolocative media. (Witness our Living Books About Life project. This is a series of open access books about life – with life understood both philosophically and biologically – that provide multiple points of interrogation and contestation, as well as connection and translation, between the humanities and the sciences.) Yet the idea for us here is also to go beyond current definitions of disruptive technologies, with a view to not just helping to create new markets by doing things the market does not expect, but also disrupting and displacing the existing markets by exploring new economic models and new economies. At one end of the spectrum this takes the form of experimenting with micro-payments, freemium models and the general shift in digital culture from monetizing content to monetizing experiences. (So the Centre for Disruptive Media’s virtual and mobile communications research strand includes Shakespeare Byte-Size, a project which has digitised the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archive – as Coventry is close to Stratford-upon-Avon – using augmented reality encounters with Shakespeare.)

At the other end of the spectrum it involves us in a range of activities concerned with online attention economies, freemium models, gift economies, creative media activism, and so-called internet piracy. Indeed, one of the main businesses and markets the Centre is involved in disrupting with its experiments into new economies and new economic models is its own: namely, that of higher education and the idea of the university as it currently exists. What we are interested in here is the future of university teaching, learning, research and publication in the age of disruptive media. We view the emergence of media technologies such as smart phones, tablets, p2p networks and the mobile web as providing us with an opportunity to rethink the university – fundamentally, yet also creatively and affirmatively. In other words, our concern is with how digital media technologies can help us to disrupt some of the university’s core foundational concepts, values, practices and genres, both theoretically and performatively. These include the idea of the subject as a static, stable, unitary identity, the indivisible and individualized proprietorial author, the linear argument and text, originality, the finished object, fixity, intellectual property, copyright and even the human. The aim is to produce a counter-model both to the becoming business of the contemporary university and to what Bill Readings referred to as the ‘University of Culture’, epitomised for him by the German model Humboldt instituted in the 19th century at the University of Berlin.

Friday
Jun202014

Videos from the first Disrupting the Humanities seminar

The videos from the first Disrupting the Humanities  seminar are now online.

Disrupting the Humanities is a series of 3 half-day seminars looking at research and scholarship in a 'posthumanities' context, organised by the Centre for Disruptive Media at Coventry University, and held over the course of spring and summer, 2014. Disrupting the Humanities both critically engages with the humanist legacy of the humanities, and creatively explores alternative and affirmative possible futures for the humanities.

The first seminar, Disrupting the Scholarly Establishment: How To Create Alternative and Affirmative Humanities Institutions, took place on Friday March 7th, 2014 at Coventry University.

Speakers:
Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths/CREATe)
Endre Dányi (Mattering Press)
Craig Saper (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Karen Newman (Coventry University)
Mark Amerika (The University of Colorado Boulder)

Please note: Although the videos have been edited, this isn't a 'normal' edit as we have tried to make the videos more 'interactive' by annotating them: i.e. by adding references to the websites, projects, persons and concepts  mentioned in the talks, as well as by inserting tweets from the participants. For more details, see the 'Experiments in Editing' post on the Disruptive Media blog. (It's also available on Janneke Adema's Open Reflections.)

All the videos can be found on the Disruptive Media wiki here:

http://disruptivemedia.org.uk/wiki/wiki/seminar-1-disrupting-the-scholarly-establishment-how-to-create-alternative-and-affirmative-humanities-institutions/video-recordings-2/

And on a separate YouTube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBETsJUz5E2PaOWvgaQIfzGver0BSzTH4

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