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TS : So yes non-cognitive capitalism does not stray too far from the familiar Taylorist and post-Taylorist flow of labour. In terms of human-computer work we might think of this as a shift from ergonomic relations; the best possible physical fit established between human and machine during the labour process, if you like, toward a cognitive model focused on mental labour.

We see this shift between paradigms everywhere in Human Computer Interaction HCI literature and practices, but now something else seems to be happening. The emphasis is increasingly on the labour of emotions, affect and experience. These are measured using biometric and neurotechnologies alongside more traditional cognitive tools that probe memory and attention. This is just one aspect of the neuroculture we find ourselves in today where it is not the person, but the neuron, or perhaps the neurotransmission itself, that is being put to work in all kinds of ways to produce a new kind of molecular subjectivity.

Indeed, if marketers, political strategists and designers can make us feel a certain way then they can also influence the way we think. This mirrors a trend in commercial design at the moment to grasp the importance of the relation between emotions and cognition. Zajonc goes even further though by saying that affective systems are both independent of, and possibly stronger than, cognitive systems.

This is the trajectory I think non-cognitive capitalism follows. In addition to the labour of neurotransmission there is also this well publicized shift in media technology to so-called ubicomp. I think this is important too. Here we see nontask interactions also occurring below attentiveness. Is there a wider interest in the non-communicative, and non-representational sort of aspects of media culture?

This is not solely the strategic use of media for specific goals, or the uncovering of some embedded or hidden ideology, but instead points to the unintended, the re-appropriated or the steering of accidents that just crop up. I wrote about the immunologic stratagem as a kind of deceptive fearmongering originating from the accidents of computer science in the s and 80s.

This is how I see viral culture.

Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks

Instead we find that the digital entrepreneur needs to nurse virality into being by priming brands so that they become stickier than their rivals and their potential to spread all the more likely. In network marketing nothing is for certain. All you can really do is bide your time while waiting to navigate the next accident. JP: Although the difference from Evil Media seems to be that you talk of love in your book too — can you elaborate on that point, relating to affects? It is fear that is preferable to love. My work simply turns that idea on its head. Tarde writes on love in several places, in his novel Underground Man and the extralogical part of The Laws of Imitation.

He thinks that love is, albeit often transitory, far more catching than fear. He also regards it an asymmetrical power relation in which it is mostly those in love who copy their beloved. I took inspiration from that and a couple of others. Teresa Brennan, for example, writes that love, unlike fear, does not need a medium to cling to.

Love for Brennan is both affect and medium at the same time, which sort of boosts its affective contagion. I look at Obama love like this — as a kind of grey viral media practice of love. Aside from the obvious uses of love in his campaign, like the I Love Obama websites, T-shirts and badges, there are also those haptic images of Obama, with his family on the eve of his first election victory. Handling time. Will usually ship within 2 business days of receiving cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. Taxes may be applicable at checkout. Learn more. Return policy. Refer to eBay Return policy for more details.

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For additional information, see the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab No additional import charges on delivery Delivery: Estimated between Mon. Includes international tracking Payments: Special financing available. An error occurred, please try again. Brand New: A new, unread, unused book in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages. In this thought-provoking work, Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Viralitydoes not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors.

It instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is not necessarily a positive or negative force of encounter; it is how society comes together and relates. Sampson argues that a biological knowledge of contagion has been universally distributed by way of the rhetoric of fear used in the antivirus industry and other popular discourses surrounding network culture.

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This awareness is also detectable in concerns over too much connectivity, such as problems of global financial crisis and terrorism. As above, sense making is treated as relational, so I reject emergent cognitive wholes or indeed a model of collective consciousness inherited from Durkheim. In the case of the former, The Assemblage Brain intervenes in the often assumed emergence of a phenomenal model of the self, which a is similarly treated as an emergent whole that somehow transcends its parts, and b involves a strange distinction between the inner and outer worlds of relational experience; that is, the external world is often seen as nothing more than an image experienced on the inside.

This returns us to the problem of representation and a Platonic model of the cave-brain: a brain that can never have access to the real world.

The initial focus of the book is however about contrasting two Deleuzean brains. On one hand, there are the discontinuities and mixtures of the Rhizome brain we find in A Thousand Plateaus.

Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks by Tony D. Sampson

This earlier brain closely follows some of the anti-reticular declarations of the neuron doctrine established in the nineteenth century. On the other, I look more closely at the brain that plunges into chaos in What is Philosophy? This later chaos-brain, although far more problematic to those of us who were attracted to the philosophy of mixture in the earlier work, actually raises some really interesting concerns with regard to possible differences in the way philosophers, artists, and scientists may think about the world.

This is not a neuron-centered viewpoint. Moreover, the book suggests a number of ways in which these different sense-making capacities can interfere with each other. According to What Is Philosophy? It is here, in these often-constrained interferences, where I find the politics of neuroculture, particularly as philosophy, art, and science intersect with what I call neurocapitalism.

Sampson : My aim in the first part of the book is to ask what can be done to a brain? For example, I take the emotional brain thesis—made popular by Antonio Damasio and Joseph Ledoux—and show how it has informed new modes of efficiency analysis in the digital workplace. This trend in the neurosciences has greatly influenced commercial design theory, marketing, and notions of what constitutes the so-called user experience. As follows, developments in emotional design and neuro-web design play a part in situating digital subjectivity as mostly unconscious or rather nonconscious.

One interference I offer in this context is that of a revitalized Antonio Gramsci confronting a kind of neuro-Taylorism running through the history of human computer interaction. The second part asks what a brain can do. This is a combined political and philosophical exploration of sense making. At the time of writing the rise of rightwing populism in Europe, particularly UKIP in the UK, was a pertinent example of emotional and feely appeals to parts of the electorate that ultimately lead to Brexit. My project engages with an ongoing question concerning an alternative neuroculture; that is, what does it take to wake up the somnambulist who seems to unconsciously imitate these feely encounters with a mode of politics that will ultimately have a negative influence on their lives.

The philosophical and political come together with the problem of locationist tendencies in neuroscience where brain imaging science is crudely applied to locate regions or structures implicated in sense making linked to political preference, creativity, and even gender difference. What we end up with is a kind of neurophrenology which has been purposefully misappropriated by certain politicians to blame a dysfunctional society on sensory deprivation brought about by bad parenting rather than dire economic conditions.

I call this the problematic cave-brain.

Book Review of Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks

However, on the other hand, real objects do not materialize outside of our experience of them. That is to say, we cannot separate the experience of objects from the production of color via the eye and brain, for example. So in between representation and the real thing we find what Bergson calls the image. The brain and body are images, matter is an image.

Everything is an image. Why should we assume that because objects appear to us pictorially they also exist as a magic representation in the mind or exist outside of experience? This is not to say that we do not think transparently. Brain processes seem to work so that the perception of matter appears coherently to us. It is like a filtered experience of reality, if you like. Deleuze says the brain is like an umbrella that protects us from the endless possibilities of chaos. Perhaps this is because objective reality is too much to take in? The endless possibilities of the events encountered are just too chaotic.

But this transparency does not mean that the images we perceive exist, as realists might say, outside of experience, in the real. Of course, the world appears to us as coherent. This is something that science tends to do very well for us. We can start to see through brain transparency with science. Neuroimaging has not discovered this photographic store in the brain. So in place of the kind of representational world conjured up in semiotics and acts of signification, or indeed metaphorical language, wherein objects seem to be inscribed with representational meaning, The Assemblage Brain looks instead for the material relationality between objects—how, that is, one image encounters the other.

As Deleuze and Guattari argue, it is not the person, but the brain that thinks. We are brain matter in constant duration with matter we experience. Sampson : Imitation is, at the same time, a cultural inclination and biological tendency. It is arguably more important to the development of our sense-making capacity than language. Indeed, without the imitation of language there would be no semantics by which we could make sense of the world. This tendency to imitate makes us vulnerable to what we encounter in sensory environments that are increasingly mediated to us through a digital culture managed by marketers, experience designers, and political strategists informed by neuroscience.

This makes us open to adaptations that are mostly beyond our control.


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There is, as such, a need to make sense of new forms of neuropersuasion that seem to exploit what Tarde called imitation-suggestibility ; that is, a mostly nonconscious tendency to imitate and pass-on what is suggested to us. Understanding how we become situated as subjects in neurocapitalism requires us to grasp that it is not just us, but our social relations that are being steered and put up for sale.

Social media businesses like Facebook are already manipulating our shared emotional experiences and evidently engaged in trying to make these experiences become contagious. Indeed, recent efforts by Facebook differ from older methods of advertising.

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Marketing today is no longer simply engaged with appealing to our conscious sense of self identity. What is being mobilized is the mediating force of shared experience—an experience of the other and the sensory environments in which social encounters take place.

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It is these experiences that are passed on. Both of these contagions have the potential to disempower us, but I think we are more easily fooled by our encounter with joyful experiences. Tara Fee : Are there particular technologies that you perceive as more generative of the kind of sociality described by assemblage theory? Or does all technology inevitably produce this sort of sociality because it is in the nature of humans and the technologies they use to do so?


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