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New book: the insect logic behind our networked societies

new book links insect behaviour to social ‘webs’


insect logic is seen behind contemporary media technologies and network society


Anglia Ruskin University academic Dr Jussi Parikka has just launched a
fascinating and intriguing new book which uncovers the insect logic
that informs contemporary media technologies and the network society.

Out in December, Insect
Archaeology of Animals and Technology

analyses how insect forms of social organisation—swarms, hives,
webs, and distributed intelligence—have been used to structure
modern media technologies and the network society, providing a
radical new perspective on the interconnection of biology and

Within the new book, Dr Parikka develops an insect theory of media, one that
conceptualises modern media as more than the products of individual
human actors, social interests, or technological determinants. They
are, rather, profoundly nonhuman phenomena that both draw on and
mimic the more ‘alien’ life worlds of insects.

Dr Parikka is Reader in Media Theory and History at Anglia Ruskin
University and Director of the Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE)
research institute (
and ArcDigital (www.anglia.ac.uk/arcdigital). He is also the author
Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses.

Explaining the theory behind the way of life in digital network society,
Dr Parikka explains: ‘
culture is a rather peculiar phase in our modern technical
civilization, as it seems to be a combination of high technology and
a fascination with such seemingly simple life forms as insects. We
continuously make sense of emerging media and technology through
references and metaphors borrowed from the biological world: viruses,
worms, swarms, and other similar eclectic ideas that suggest a
complex view of scientific culture.’

‘What this book offers is an extensive and systematic take on this conflation of
biology and technology; it shows how often modern culture has turned
to animals and such simple life forms as insects to understand a
radically non-human way of seeing the world. Imagine how the world
looks and feels like to an animal who does not share our two-footed,
two-handed, two-eyed world view? Such ideas fascinated a lot of early
pioneers in the 19th and 20th century, from artists to

‘More recently, so many network scientists and designers turned to insects as well: thinking about software,
network architectures, and forms of organisation through ideas that
they borrowed from entomology. What I do in this book is offer a
thorough look at such “border crossings” between sciences and
artistic appropriations of such ideas.’

When we approach contemporary digital economy, we need complex cultural
historical perspectives to thoroughly understand its contexts,
historical development, as well as the implications to our

The book is both a historical and critical look at how we approach network culture – it approaches it not from the
point of view of humans, but from an insect point of view. As other
books in the series
from University of Minnesota Press, this title looks at non-human
ways of understanding contemporary culture where even basic seemingly
biological processes as ‘life’ are increasingly rethought and
recreated in artificial, technological practices, in science, but
also in science fiction.

Dr Parikka concludes: ‘It’s a great honour to be in the same series as leading cultural theorists
of our posthuman and technological age, such as Michel Serres, Donna
Haraway and Isabelle Stengers.’

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