Sage journal Body and Society vol 16, n. 4 is finally out! Pardon my enthusiasm, but this issue features my 30-page essay A History of Virulence: The Body and Computer Culture in the 1980s: a killer mix of hackerdom, virality and computer nostalgia that also happens to be IMHO one hell of a contribution to the cultural history of the body in cyberculture.
Abstract: The recent turn in ubiquitous computing challenges previous theories of ‘technological disembodiment’. In a mediascape where technology permeates bodies, the current discourse of viral information insinuates elements of fear and risk associated with both physical presence and computer usage. This article adopts a socio-historical approach to investigate the factors underlying the early emergence of such features of our social imaginary by tracking them back to the computer culture of the 1980s. Analysing both mainstream and underground press sources from 1982 to 1991, a discursive core is revealed that revolves around the ‘computer virus’ metaphor. Popularized in this period, this notion came to resonate with mounting moral panic over the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Anxieties about the body in computer culture are then conceptualized (and historically contextualized) along two dimensions: first, the political proximity between HIV/AIDS activists and computer hackers during the FDA clinical trials controversy of 1987—8; and, second, the ideological reinforcement provided by academic progressive elements to these political actions. The implications of these results are discussed.
A few weeks ago, I published a “autor’s cut” version on this very blog (here part1 and part2) and you can download the unread proofs by clicking here (not for citation, please). Of course, if you want to download the published version, help yourself here. You might as well drop me a kind email and ask for a certain attachment 😉 And if you want to cite the article, because that’s what academics do, please find enclosed the complete reference.
Casilli, Antonio A. (2010). A History of Virulence: The Body and Computer Culture in the 1980s Body & Society, 16 (4), 1-31 DOI: 10.1177/1357034X10383880