Latest...

The Uberfication of the University (Open access Forerunners series version available here; as of April 4 2017 an interactive Manifold series version is available here.)

Públicos Fantasma - La Naturaleza Política Del Libro - La Red (Mexico: Taller de Ediciones Económicas, 2016) - new book, co-authored with Andrew Murphie, Janneke Adema and Alessandro Ludovico. 

'Posthumanities: The Dark Side of "The Dark Side of the Digital"' (with Janneke Adema), in Janneke Adema and Gary Hall, eds, Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities, Journal of Electronic PublishingVol. 9, No.2, Winter, 2016.

'Pirate Philosophy And Post-Capitalism: A Conversation With Gary Hall', by Mark Carrigan, The Sociological Imagination, December 8, 2016.

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repository CURVE here 

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, Number 78, Summer, 2013. 

'What Does Academia.edu's Success Mean for Open Access: The Data-Driven World of Search Engines and Social Networking', Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, no.5, 2015.

Radical Open Access network

Tuesday
May102016

New Book: Pirate Philosophy

This is the Preface from my new book: Pirate Philosophy: For A Digital Posthumanities  (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2016). 

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/pirate-philosophy

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"We find ourselves in a time of riots wherein a rebirth of History, as opposed to the pure and simple repetition of the worst, is signalled and takes shape" - Alain Badiou

 

Since the financial crash of 2008, much has been written about the “crisis of capitalism” and the associated series of postcrash political events that are seen as having begun with the Tunisian revolution of 2010: the Arab Spring, the 2011 “August riots” in England, and Occupy Wall Street, together with the movement of the European squares that eventually led to the election of Syriza in Greece and rise to prominence of another left-wing party, Podemos, in Spain. Yet to what extent does our contemporary sociopolitical situation also pose a challenge to those of us who work and study in the university?  How can we act not so much for or with the anti-austerity and student protesters, “graduates without a future,” and “remainder of capital,” demonstrating alongside them, accepting invitations to speak to them and write about them and so on, but rather in terms of them, thus refusing to submit critical thought to “existing political discourses and the formulation of political needs those discourses articulate,” and so “defusing” “the trap of the event”?  Does the struggle against the neoliberal “corporatization” of higher education not require us to have the courage to transform radically the material practices and social relations of our lives and labor?. 

 

It is these questions that form the starting point for this book’s engagement with a range of theorists and philosophers, operating in some of the most exciting areas of the humanities today. They include Lev Manovich (the digital humanities), Rosi Braidotti (new materialism), Bernard Stiegler (posthumanism), and Graham Harman (object-oriented ontology). Drawing critically on phenomena such as the peer-to-peer file-sharing and the anticopyright pro-piracy movements, Pirate Philosophy explores how we can produce not just new ways of thinking about the world, which is what theorists and philosophers have traditionally aspired to do, but new ways of actually being theorists and philosophers in this “time of riots." 

The book’s opening chapter sets the scene with an account of the politics of online sharing in relation to the struggles against the current intellectual property regime associated with Anonymous, LulzSec, Aaron Swartz and the “academic spring” of 2012. It discusses Creative Commons; the open access, open source and free software movements; and the difficulty of forging a common, oppositional horizon given these struggles and movements do not share a common idea of the Commons. In the chapters that follow Pirate Philosophy proceeds to ask how, when it comes to our own scholarly ways of creating, performing and sharing knowledge and research, can we operate in a manner that is different not just from the neoliberal model of the entrepreneurial academic associated with corporate social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but also from the traditional liberal humanist model that comes replete with clichéd, ready-made (some would even say cowardly) ideas of proprietorial authorship, the book, originality, fixity and the finished object?. 

Of course, many theorists are currently challenging the tyranny of the human with an emphasis on the nonhuman, the posthuman, the postanthropocentric, along with the crisis of life itself that is expressed by the Anthropocene. Yet such “posttheory theories” continue to remain intricately bound up with humanism and the human in the very performance of their attempt to think beyond them, due to the approaches they have adopted in response to the question of the politics of copying, distributing, selling and (re)using theory. This is to some extent inevitable given the lack of antihumanist alternatives to publishing either on a “copyright… All rights reserved” or open access and Creative Commons basis that are institutionally and professionally recognized. Nevertheless, Pirate Philosophy endeavors to move the analysis of the human and nonhuman on by raising a question that is also an exhortation: How, as theorists and philosophers, can we act differently – to the point where we actually begin to take on board and assume some of the implications of the challenge that is offered by theory and philosophy to fundamental humanities concepts such as the human, the subject, the author, copyright, and the Commons, for the ways in which we live, work, and think? How, in other words, can we act as something like pirate philosophers in the sense of the term’s etymological origins with the ancient Greeks, where the pirate is someone who tries, tests, teases, and troubles, as well as attacks? Might doing so be one way for us to try out and put to the test new economic, legal and political models for the creation, publication and circulation of knowledge and ideas, models that are more appropriate for our postcrash sociopolitical situation?

 

Saturday
Apr302016

The Missing Community

(What follows is the sixth part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here; the second part, 'Liberalism as a "Way of Doing Things"', here; the third part, 'From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg', here; the fourth part, 'Thinking With Media Technologies', here; the fifth part, 'On Open Humanities Press And Other Projects', here.) 

 

THE EDITORS: Where do you feel your responsibility lies in terms of nudging people towards open access? 

GARY HALL: I realise this is probably going to sound odd, but I don’t feel I have that kind of responsibility. I know you’d like me to speak about open access, and I understand why that is, given how much work I’ve done in the area, and that I’ve published a book about it and so forth. The fact is, though, while I really want to be helpful, I’m not sure how interested I am in open access – except to the extent it enables us to address, critically and creatively, the sort of issues we’ve been talking about. It’s certainly not my intention to position myself as some kind of representative or spokesperson for open access by assuming responsibility for nudging people towards it, be it at a governmental policy maker, funding council, scholarly society, institutional, departmental or professional level. 

If what I’m interested in is placing a question mark against both our neoliberal and our liberal humanist models of subjectivity, then it’d be naïve of me to expect that there’s going to be a large, pre-existing audience out there I can appeal to; an audience that’s ready and waiting for me to simply prod them into taking on board these ideas and their implications for our current ways of doing things, which as we have seen are largely (neo)liberal humanist in practice. You could even go so far as to say that, in denaturalising and destablising notions of individual rights, property, copyright and so on that we otherwise take for granted, my work is designed precisely to challenge a lot of the norms, values and practices around which any such wider audience might gather. (There are no legal anti-humanist or non-humanist alternatives to publishing on a copyright all rights reserved basis that are professionally recognised, for instance.) Consequently, we might think of such an audience, not so much in terms of Giorgio Agamben’s ‘coming community’ or what, following Jacques Derrida, we could call a community to come, but as a missing community. This is another reason I’m interested in experimenting with ways of working and thinking as a media theorist that are not only engaged in representing or providing an account of the world, but performatively acting in or intra-acting with it too. Rather than endeavouring to speak to or on behalf of such a missing community, it seems to me we have to performatively invent the context in which such a community could emerge.  

Creating such a missing community is what I’d suggest we’re attempting to do with many of the projects I’m connected to, which include not just Culture Machine and Open Humanities Press, but also the Centre for Disruptive Media here at Coventry and its affirmative disruption of both neoliberal and liberal ideas of the humanities, the library, the archive and even the university.  Will we succeed? I’m not sure. It’s reinflecting a phrase of Stuart Hall’s, I know, but for me we have to work ‘without guarantees’, without any assurances that such a community will appear at some point in the future. Still, that’s the kind of difficulty, contradiction, paradox even, I’m interested in living with and exploring. And this includes the paradox that’s associated with my own inability to simply transcend the individualistic authorial ‘I’: both in this interview, and in my forthcoming publication of a traditional print book with only my name on it about the problems involved in authors producing books with only their individual names on them, even though I know this book, like this interview, is written by what for shorthand can be called the Others in me.  It’s something I’m not entirely at ease with – and not just for the reasons we’ve discussed. (It’s also partly why I began by referring to Foucault’s ‘Masked Philosopher’ interview, which he published anonymously.) Nevertheless, I still take the decision to write such books and to participate in such interviews on occaision. For me, doing so can be another means of experimenting in a quasi-transcendental fashion with some of the multiple differential modalities of ‘I’ that are possible in our current context; and thus of again giving new, non-dialectical inflections to certain tendencies associated with both our neoliberal and liberal ways of doing things. 

Hopefully, all this explains why I continue to work in a university, despite all the stress, anxiety and exhaustion associated with it at the moment. I do so because the university is one space – it’s not the only space, art is perhaps another, but the university is one space – where we have a chance to do things differently. Where we can raise these kinds of questions. Where we can explore and experiment with new ways of doing.

Friday
Apr082016

Really, We're Helping To Build This Fucking Business: The Academia.edu Files 

We are pleased to announce Volume 9 in the Culture Machine Liquid Book Series, published by Open Humanities Press
 
Image Credit: CC-BY: Linda N. from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/22748341@N00/361025310/ 

 

Really, We're Helping To Build This . . . Business: The Academia.edu Files, charts the recent debate about for-profit academic social networking sites (aka research sharing platforms) such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate and Mendeley. It features contributions from Gary Hall, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Eileen Joy and Guy Geltner, among others.  

Help Wanted

Initially put together by Gary Hall and Janneke Adema, The Academia.edu Files, like all the titles in the Liquid Books series, is open for editing by anyone.
  

The editors are particularly keen for users to contribute to the section on alternative platforms, to raise awareness about the not-for-profit, institutionally supported and/or scholarly-led alternative initiatives for sharing and discussing research. 

Friday
Apr012016

On Open Humanities Press And Other Projects

(What follows is the fifth part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here; the second part, 'Liberalism as a "Way of Doing Things"', here; the third part, 'From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg', here; the fourth part, 'Thinking With Media Technologies', here

 

THE EDITORS: You have helped found and run a wide variety of open access initiatives, such as the journal Culture Machine, Open Humanites Press (OHP), and the two Liquid Books and Living Books About Life series. Could you say a little more about them? And do you have any plans for future developments?

GARY HALL: The above idea of taking some of the elements, dynamics and potentials associated with the transition from the Gutenberg galaxy of the print book to a post- Gutenberg space of networked digital information flows and giving them new and different inflections would be one way of understanding what it is we’re doing with some of the projects I’m connected to: not just those you mention specifically, but also more recent projects such as Photomediations MachinePhotomediations: An Open Book, and after.video

So Open Humanites Press is a scholar-led, non-profit, open access collective dedicated to making works of contemporary critical thought openly available worldwide on a free, gratis basis.  Launched by Sigi Jöttkandt, David Ottina and myself in 2008, this networked, multi-user collective currently consists of nineteen open access journals (including Culture Machine), and to date has published approaching thirty ‘traditional’ open access books. But OHP also has two more experimental series – Liquid Books, edited by Clare Birchall and myself; and Living Books About Life, edited by Clare Birchall, Joanna Zylinska and myself  – which feature books that are published on a free, gratis and libre basis so that their ‘readers’ are able to edit their content, rewrite, remix and reversion them. 

That said, I should stress we’re not attempting to completely rethink everything at the same time and to the same extent with these projects –  as if with Culture Machine or OHP we’ve hit on a new way of doing things that’s somehow capable of engaging with all of the issues we’ve touched on. Instead, we’re operating more according to Jacques Derrida’s notion of the quasi-transcendental, whereby the process of examining some concepts by necessity requires that other concepts are left unexamined. So, to provide examples of projects that are experimenting quite explicitly with books and learned journals as information media, Joanna Zylinska and Ting Ting Cheng’s image-driven online journal-cum-gallery site, Photomediations Machine (a sister project to the Culture Machine journal), is exploring the process of moving from an era of literacy and grammatology to a post-literate era – what is already being called the visual web – and what this change means for theory.  Meanwhile Adnan Hadzi, Oliver Lerone Schultz, Pablo De Soto and Laila Shereen Sakr’s collectively edited after.video, which OHP is publishing as part of the Liquid Books series, is doing something similar in the form of paperback book and video stored on a Raspberry Pi computer and packaged in a VHS case. However, rather than the still or photographic image – which is the primary concern of Photomediations Machine – it is focusing on moving images in order to rethink the book and theory ‘after video’.  I won’t detail them here, but other OHP projects are concentrating more on testing our concepts of individual (and individualistic) authorship, fixity, the finished object, property rights, copyright and/or piracy. 

To this extent, one way of thinking of OHP is as a heterogeneous collective of theorists, scholars, librarians, publishers, editors and technologists, working in a non-rivalrous, non-competitive, non-dialectical fashion to explore and invent new models of creation, publication, circulation and ownership. However, rather than telling these different people exactly how they are to publish their work, say, by imposing one particular publishing model or one specific platform on them all, OHP is endeavouring to work with them to develop the means of doing so that they themselves consider to be most appropriate for their particular project, context, specialism, field or community. I know this is how some people have understood OHP, certainly: as trying to relate to what theorists and scholars want, rather than to what their institutions, libraries and funders want, as is the case with many government and research council-funded open access initiatives. From this perspective, OHP is opening up a space for the continuation of academic freedom, albeit in a radically different form from most of those with which we’re familiar. 

Sunday
Mar202016

Thinking With Media Technologies

(What follows is the fourth part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here; the second part, 'Liberalism as a "Way of Doing Things"', here; the third, 'From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg', here.)

THE EDITORS: You’re very active in the field of open access publishing. Could you tell us about your motivation for being so?

 

GARY HALL: As I say, variations on the narrative that sees us moving from an era of written and printed communication into a ‘universe of technical images’, as Flusser calls it, have been provided by a number of theorists and philosophers.   But if this is the case, rather than concentrating on writing even more commercially copyrighted, linearly organised, bound and printed codex books about it, might it not be more appropriate for us to try to understand this post-Gutenberg universe by acting as though we are indeed living through a long process of transition from one era to another, whatever form the latter may eventually turn out to take?

It’s from the performance artist Stelarc, perhaps more than anyone else, that I’ve learned the importance of engaging with media technologies as things we think with and not just through or about. In his talks and lectures Stelarc takes great care to emphasise that he doesn’t feel he can explore how different developments in technology are altering our understanding of the body and the human unless he is able to achieve his often extremely difficult to realise performances with robotics, medical procedures, cybernetic systems and the internet; unless he actually has, for example, an extra ear surgically constructed, positioned as an additional bodily feature, and able to ‘broadcast RealAudio sounds to augment the local sounds that the actual ears hear', and perhaps to ‘whisper sweet nothings’ to them.  

At the same time, Stelarc is aware that in doing so, he is merely offering his own  – albeit rather unique, some would say physically quite extreme – contribution to that long tradition of artists, writers and philosophers who have stressed the importance of understanding our relationship to media and other technologies performatively. It is a tradition that includes Friedrich Nietzsche, who claimed that ‘our writing tools are also working on our thoughts’; Ludwig Wittgenstein, who commented that ‘I really do think with my pen, because my head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing’; and also William Blake, who in his poem Jerusalem observed that ‘If Perceptive organs vary, Objects of Perception seem to vary’.

So what are the implications for us, as media, cultural and communication studies students and scholars, of the theory that is being rehearsed here: that our performances with media technologies exist in an enmeshed, processual, intra-active relationship with our thoughts and bodies? Well, for one thing, it means our thoughts do not pre-exist this relationship. Once again we can see that they are created at least in part by the ‘tools’ we use to express them, as well as by the performance of doing so, including that part of the performance that involves the physical human body. But what it also means is that if these tools and performances change – if as a culture we switch from writing predominantly with a pen to communicating increasingly with a typewriter, networked computer keyboard, Bluetooth-enabled tablet touchscreen, or Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset – then so do our thoughts.

What it certainly does not mean is that we all now have to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and Google Scholar so we can try to understand our post-Gutenberg world by learning to think with these corporate media environments (and not just about them). It doesn’t mean we have to go along passively with the transition from the printed codex book to networked digital information and data flows. But neither does it mean we should be acting today as if we can somehow replicate the conditions of the Gutenberg galaxy – especially its quiet, private spaces where an individual could concentrate on reading and writing books without having their thoughts disturbed by a constant stream of communications from the outside world. (I’m thinking of Jonathan Franzen permanentley sealing up the Ethernet port on his laptop that enables him to connect to the internet so he can write his great American novels, or Nicholas Carr moving to the mountains in Colorado where there is no cell phone service to produce his books about how the internet is damaging our brains.) Indeed, one of the main points I want to make is that, when it comes to our ways of being and doing in the world, these two culture industry-dominated systems for the creation, publication and dissemination of knowledge and information – what we might crudely characterise as the classic ‘closed’ system of print culture and the newer ‘semi-closed’ system of corporate social and mobile media – are not so very different in this respect.  Instead, I’m motivated more by the idea of taking some of the tendencies associated with this transition and giving them new inflections that are different to both the neoliberal and the liberal ‘“way of doing things”’.

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