New Issue: Vol 58.2 (August)

Taxonomizing Information Practices in a Large Conspiracy Movement: Using Early QAnon as a Case Study 

by James Hodges

p. 129-144


This paper presents a taxonomy of the information practices apparent in an imageboard discussion thread that was influential in jump-starting the worldwide QAnon movement. After introducing QAnon with a review of literature, the author examines 4Chan /pol/ thread #147547939 (key in introducing multiple key elements of the QAnon narrative) to enumerate and classify the information practices deployed by discussion participants. In conclusion, the paper expands beyond existing research’s previous focus on outright fabrication, showing that early QAnon participants’ information practices are also defined in large part by suspicious and idiosyncratic modes of reading authentic sources, not simply the propagation of falsehoods.

James A. Hodges studies the evidentiary value of digital objects. He is currently Assistant Professor at the San José State University School of Information and Junior Fellow in the Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography.

Algorithmic Divination: From Prediction to Preemption of the Future

by Christophe Lazaro

p. 145-165


Predictive algorithms today share more than just semantics with the divinatory practices of the past. This article will map the parallels, contending that the similarities between the two practices are true “propositions” which radically question the way we apprehend the world, the way we draw our knowledge from it and the way we then act within and upon it. Mindful of the limitations of such a comparative method, it will nevertheless attempt it by deploying a two-fold approach. On the one hand, it will question the epistemological nature of predictive analytics and examine their truth-claims with regard to how they represent the future. On the other hand, it will focus on the ontological dimension of predictive analytics and investigate how they shape the world, by bringing about the presence of the future in the here and now.

Christophe Lazaro is a law and society professor at the Faculty of Law and Criminology of the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

The Information Theory of Translation

by Qiang Pi

p. 166-179


Against the backdrop of a fast-changing field of Translation Studies, new ideas and theories continue to emerge. This paper attempts to conceptualize translation beyond the linguistic confinement and reveal its hidden universality. It begins by reviewing the mainstream translation conceptualizations. It adopts information as the fundamental concept underlying translation and reveals concepts like source and target text, meaning-transfer, and language to be more of special cases of the information-based concept of translation; translation is, as a result, expanded to include not only human action of creations, behaviors, and responses but of other life forms, inanimate or artificial substance that are capable of meaning-making. The paper thus proposes the Information Theory of Translation (ITT). It defines translation as a meaning-making process conducted by an agent within its specific informational boundary and time limit to achieve certain goals. Finally, discussions are made about some key problems in Translation Studies.

Qiang Pi is a Lecturer in the School of Foreign Studies at Guangzhou University. He completed his Ph.D. at Tongji University. His research interests lie in the interaction between Translation Studies and Ecocriticism.

Big Nihilism: Generation Z, Surveillance Capitalism, and the Emerging Digital Technocracy

by Garry Robson

p. 180-204


TThe early dream of an open democratic cyberspace driven by an empowered generation of “digital natives” has collapsed, as a consequence of the corporate capture of the Internet and the psycho-social immiseration of youngsters caused by the instrumental manipulation of them at the screen interface. Older strands in the philosophy of technology can throw light on twenty-first century experience in terms of a) Heidegger’s suggestion that “technology”—an ongoing civilizational process that cannot be reduced to any particular forms of actual machinery—tends towards the treatment of persons as exploitable “standing reserve,” and b) Ellul’s contention that humans would eventually have of necessity to assimilate themselves to all-encompassing and autonomous technological systems. Young people are now being largely shaped by the practitioners of “social physics,” as Big Data-
derived fodder for the creation of a hive mind in the interests of technocratic social control and corporate profiteering.

Garry Robson is a Professor of Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. His books include Digital Diversities: Social Media and Intercultural Experience (2014) and the forthcoming Virtually Lost: Young Americans in the Emerging Digital Technocracy (2023).

Media and the Affective Life of Slavery by Allison Page (review)

p. 205-206

Media and the Affective Life of Slavery
by Allison Page
HARDCOVER, $104; Paperback, $26
ISBN 9781517910396

Nicole A. Cooke


Allison Page’s Media and the Affective Life of Slavery embarks on a less discussed aspect of the legacy of slavery—that of how its narrative can be used to regulate the emotions, including guilt, of its consumers and thus to implicitly suggest that its legacy is no longer an issue in present day.

Rise of the Far Right: Technologies of Recruitment and Mobilization edited by Melody Devries, Judith Bessant, and Rob Watts (review)

p. 207-208

Rise of the Far Right: Technologies of Recruitment and Mobilization
edited by Melody Devries, Judith Bessant, and Rob Watts 
Rowman & Littlefield, 2021, 300 pp.  
Hardback, $120.00; paperback, $39.00; eBook, $37.00 
ISBN: 978-1-78661-492-6; 978-1-5381-5890-6; 978-1-78661-493-3 

Tomás Dodds


Rise of the Far Right: Technologies of Recruitment and Mobilization is a significant and most welcome contribution to the noticeable uptick in academic work on extreme ideologies propagating on social media platforms. In this book, Melody Devries (Ryerson University), Judith Bessant, and Rob Watts (both at RMIT University) have compiled chapters that explore how material infrastructure, political processes, and platform affordances have permanently changed the game in the recruitment and mobilization of far-right militants.  

Circulation and Control: Artistic Culture and Intellectual Property in the Nineteenth Century edited by Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire and Will Slauter (review)

p. 209-211

Circulation and Control: Artistic Culture and Intellectual Property in the Nineteenth Century
Edited by Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire and Will Slauter
Open Book Publishers, 2021, 542 pp. 
Paperback, £28.95 
Digital, free 
ISBN: 978-1-80064-146-4 

Priti Joshi


This book is highly recommended—for its nuanced case studies that consistently examine law, custom, and business practices as affordances in conversation; for the breadth of scholars (of art, law, media, and materiality) and curators who appear here and their depth of knowledge; for the precisely-selected illustrations to illuminate arguments; and for its uniformly excellent writing.

Reading, Wanting, and Broken Economics: A Twenty-First-Century Study of Readers and Bookshops in Southampton around 1900 by Simon R. Frost (review)

p. 212-213

Reading, Wanting, and Broken Economics: A Twenty-First-Century Study of Readers and Bookshops in Southampton around 1900
by Simon R. Frost
SUNY Press, 2021, 396 pp. 
Hardcover, $95; paperback, $33.95 
ISBN: 9781438483511 

Anna Lanfranchi


Erudite and experimental at once, Simon Frost’s Reading, Wanting, and Broken Economics aims to offer a new interpretative key to the historical understanding of readers’ dreams, drives, and desires as they browsed the shelf of a book shop at the turn of the twentieth century.

Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control by Yuriko Furuhata (review)

p. 214-216

Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control 
by Yuriko Furuhata
Duke University Press, 2022, 256 pp. 
Paperback $25.95 
ISBN: 978-1-4780-1780-6 

Weixian Pan


Many recent works, including Yuriko Furuhata’s Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control, have emerged from a deep concern for our present time marked by both planetary climate crisis and dependency on computational media. Yet very few authors share her ambition to trace how we get here: the transpacific genealogy of atmospheric control across the United States and Japan since the twentieth century, one that operates not only across scales but also brings together seemingly distant histories of atmospheric science, architectural design, environmental media, cybernetics, and empire-building. 

Digital Black Feminism by Catherine Knight Steele (review)

p. 217-218

Digital Black Feminism
by Catherine Knight Steele
New York University Press, 2021, 208 pp.  
Paperback, $27; hardback, $89 
ISBN 9781479808380, 9781479808373 

Rachel Pierce


Catherine Knight Steele’s Digital Black Feminism has two goals. The first is one of recovery: Digital Black Feminism contributes to a growing area of scholarship that attempts to uncover and, in doing so, center, the role of women and minorities in the development of digital tools and practices. The second goal is the centering of non-academic online critical voices as central to Black feminist thinking. Out of these two goals emerges the argument of the book – that “the use of online technology by Black feminist thinkers has changed the outcome and possibilities of Black feminist thought in the digital age, and Black feminist thought has simultaneously changed the technologies themselves” (4-5).

When the Medium was the Mission: The Atlantic Telegraph and the Religious Origins of Network Culture (review)

p. 219-220

When the Medium was the Mission: The Atlantic Telegraph and the Religious Origins of Network Culture
by Jenna Supp-Montgomerie
New York University Press, 2021, 295 pp.
Paperback $35.00, Hardback $99.00
ISBN: 978-1479801497

David Reagles


Everyone loves a good success story, especially our own. Yet, histories of achievement can foster a kind of presentism that ignores just how unpredictable and haphazard historical development often is. Jenna Supp-Montgomerie’s excellent study, When the Medium was the Mission: The Atlantic Telegraph and the Religious Origins of Network Culture, begins with the premise that failure, fault, and error are historically generative and thus mark rich moments of scholarly investigation. She takes as her case study the 1858 Atlantic Telegraph Cable that stretched from Newfoundland to Ireland. Technologically, the cable was largely ineffectual. Most of its messages arrived garbled, the vast majority that did make sense said very little at all; in any case, the cable stopped working entirely within a month of its first transmission.