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-Universität, 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


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.

In related news, I’m delighted to have been named a fellow of CU-Boulder’s Media Archaeology Lab. The lab is directed by Lori Emerson, author of Reading Writing Interfaces (University of MN Press, 2014). With great colleagues and facilities, the quality of professional life here is exceptionally high.


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, my friends.

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. 😉



The Internet of Words

A piece I just penned, “The Internet of Words,” is now out in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In part, it’s a review of two wonderful new books about social media: Alice E. Marwick’s Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, and danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked TeensBoth books were published within the last year by Yale University Press.

But the piece is also a meditation on words, taking the occasion of both books to think through the semantics of digital culture. It’s inspired by Raymond Williams‘ Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976; 2nd ed., 1983), looking closely at how language shifts accompany, and sometimes precede, technological change. Here’s a snippet:

Changes in the language are as much a part of the story of technology as innovative new products, high-stakes mergers and acquisitions, and charismatic corporate leaders. They bear witness to the emergence of new technological realities, yet they also help facilitate them. Facebook wouldn’t have a billion-plus users absent some compelling features. It also wouldn’t have them without people like me first coming to terms with the new semantics of friendship.

It was great having an opportunity to connect some dots between my scholarly work on algorithmic culture and the keywords approach I’ve been developing via Williams. The piece is also a public-facing statement of how I approach the digital humanities.

Please share—and I hope you like it.


New Material on Algorithmic Culture

A quick announcement about two new pieces from me, both of which relate to my ongoing research on the subject of algorithmic culture.

The first is an interview with Giuseppe Granieri, posted on his Futurists’ Views site over on Medium.  The tagline is: “Culture now has two audiences: people and machines.”  It’s a free-ranging conversation, apparently readable in six minutes, about algorithms, AI, the culture industry, and the etymology of the word, culture.

About that wordover on Culture Digitally you’ll find a draft essay of mine, examining culture’s shifting definition in relationship to digital technology.  The piece is available for open comment and reflection.  It’s the first in a series from Ben Peters’ “Digital Keywords” project, of which I’m delighted to be a part.  Thanks in advance for your feedback—and of course with all of the provisos that accompany draft material.



Late Age On the Radio

Just a quick post linking you to my latest radio interview, with WFHB-Bloomington’s Doug Storm.  Doug is one of the hosts of a great program called “Interchange,” and this past Tuesday I was delighted to share with him a broad-ranging conversation about many of the topics I address in The Late Age of Print—the longevity of books, print (and paper) culture, reading practices, taste hierarchies, and more.  Toward the end, the conversation turned to my latest work, on the politics of algorithmic culture.

The program lasts about an hour.  Enjoy!


Lawrence Grossberg Memorializes Stuart Hall

As you know, my last post 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.


Stuart Hall, 1932-2014

Stuart Hall, a founder of the field of cultural studies and one of my intellectual heroes, has died.  Two of his former students, David Morley and Bill Schwartz, have penned an obituary, published today in The Guardian.

Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall

Here is my favorite passage from Hall, from his 1992 article “Race, Culture, and Communications: Looking Backward and Forward at Cultural Studies”:

The work that cultural studies has to do is to mobilize everything that it can find in terms of intellectual resources in order to understand what keeps making the lives we live, and the societies we live in, profoundly and deeply antihumane in their capacity to live with difference. Cultural studies’ message is a message for academics and intellectuals but, fortunately, for many other people as well. In that sense, I have tried to hold together in my own intellectual life, on one hand, the conviction and passion and the devotion to objective interpretation, to analysis, to rigorous analysis and understanding, to the passion to find out, and to the production of knowledge that we did not know before. But, on the other hand, I am convinced that no intellectual worth his or her salt, and no university that wants to hold up its head in the face of the 21st century, can afford to turn dispassionate eyes away from the problems…that beset our world.

Nothing sums up the project of cultural studies better for me and, indeed, the type of work I aspire to do.

Thank you, Stuart Hall, for your bravery, intellectual leadership, and resolve. The world is a better place for your having been a part of it.  You will be missed. Sorely.



Books as Christmas Gifts

Did you know that books were among the very first commercial Christmas presents? That’s right—printed books were integral in helping to invent the modern, consumer-oriented Christmas holiday. Before then it was customary to give food or, if you were wealthy, a monetary “tip” to those who were less well off financially. (The latter might come to a rich person’s door and demand the “tip,” in fact.)  The gift of a printed book changed all that, helping to defuse the class antagonism that typically rose to the surface around the winter holidays.

You can read more about the details of this fascinating history in my post from a few years ago on “How the Books Saved Christmas.”  And if you’re interested in a broader history of the role books played in the invention of contemporary consumer culture, then you should check out The Late Age of Print.  At the risk of pointing out the obvious, it makes a great gift.



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 The Late Age of Print over the last year or so, 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 book- and algorithmic culture 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, but sometimes I’ve felt too constrained by the 140 character limit.  I appreciate how Tumblr gives me an opportunity to say 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.