Monthly Archives: April 2009

Use social networking services, get free cancer

By Antonio A. Casilli (Centre Edgar-Morin, EHESS, Paris)

In a recent lecture at the University Paris Descartes I had mentioned an article published in The Biologist by Aric Sigman, Fellow of the English Royal Society for Medicine, claiming that intensive use of social networking is linked to biological changes in humans: genetic alterations, increased morbidity/mortality for cardiovascular disease, and decreasing survival time for cancer patients. It’s the infamous “Facebook gives cancer” argument, that has caused quite a stir in the UK. The article, that you have here in pdf version, provides a clear illustration of what I described elsewhere as “the dialectic between the stethoscope and the mouse” – i.e. the ambivalent relationship between contemporary biomedicine and digital culture (Casilli, 2009).

In his always amazing Bad Science blog, Ben Goldacre has already bashed the article to a pulp from a medical standpoint, showing that the underlying research is far from being scientifially robust – a medical euphemism mainly used to dismiss despicable bullshit.

From the sociological point of view, I am pretty astonished to discover that all of Sigman’s argument is based on one assumption: that the increase in social networking website usage automatically results into a decline of face-to-face contact which in turn equates to social withdrawal – which causes cancer. This graph, featured in the article, pretty much sums it up:


Source: Aric Sigman 2009

For the non-initiated, that basically reads: “The more you surf on the Web, the more you grow lonely and your friends and family turn their backs on you and in the end you DIE ALONE like a dog”.


Astroturf activism in Russia – a tribute to Oleg Kireev

We tend to think about the Web 2.0 as an enhancer for democracy and political participation. In this conference, activist and new media theorist Oleg Kireev explains how in Russia – as well as in other former Soviet nations – reactionary politicians and corporations have staged flash mobs with the cunning use of blogs and social networking services, notably Livejournal. That’s how grassroot internet activism turns into astroturf media manipulation. The conference was held on October 14th, 2006, in Graz (Austria), at the third edition of the Dictionary of War lectures.

Oleg Kireev committed suicide five days ago, on April 3rd, 2009.


Oleg Kireev in 2006

Greek online journal Re-public special issue on transhumanism

Re-Public is a bilingual Greek/English online journal focusing on democratic and collaborative developments in contemporary politics. Under the illuminated guidance of Marc Roux (promoter of the blossoming Technoprog movement) a special issue devoted to transhumanism has just been put online. The issue focuses specifically on the political dimensions of the body, health and biotechnologies in the present social context.

You can have a look at articles such as The self-surgeons (by Andrea Mancuso),  Why reimaginative democrats should ignore the siren songs of a posthuman future (by former poster-boy for black transhumanism Justice De Thézier), and Biotechnologies and individual liberties (by Ghislain Perreau). Indeed the pièce de résistance is the interview with the charismatic performer Stelarc: Bodies without desires.

Powerpoint de mon intervention sur handicap et médias sociaux à l'Université de Nancy

Bernard Andrieu est un exemple de chercheur dont la carrière procède sur deux rails. D’une part, son activité de Professeur d’Epistémologie du corps et des pratiques corporelles à l’Université Henri Poincaré, Nancy. De l’autre, son site d’actualité SHS sur le corps, l’incontournable leblogducorps, qu’il anime depuis 2005.

Depuis 2 ans, j’ai le plaisir de suivre le blogueur Andrieu, mais c’est l’Andrieu professeur qui m’a fait l’honneur de solliciter une intervention dans le cadre du Congrès international Pratiques Sportives, Handicaps et Territoires. Ma communication a ouvert la première journée de l’axe Corps bionique, cyborg et hybridité. Et, pour ceux qui l’avaient demandé, ici vous pouvez la télécharger en version powerpoint.

Interview sur France Culture : le corps dans la culture du numérique

logo_francecultureAlors voilà, la parution du dossier sur corps et numérique que j’ai coordonné pour la revue Esprit m’a valu une invitation à France Culture, plus précisément à l’émission Place de la Toile animée par Caroline Broué et Thomas Baumgartner.

Place de la Toile
France Culture
Vendredi 3 avril 2009
De 11h à 12h
(Découvrez les fréquences pour votre ville ou écoutez l’émission directement sur le web.)

L’invité de ce vendredi est Jean-Michel CORNU, directeur scientifique de la Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération, auteur de “Prospectic – Nouvelles technologies, nouvelles pensées” (FYP, 2008).

En deuxième partie, entretien avec Votre Dévoué, Antonio A. CASILLI, chercheur associé au Centre Edgar Morin (EHESS, Paris) et coordinateur scientifique du dossier « Le corps à l’épreuve des cultures numériques » paru dans le dernier numéro de la revue Esprit (mars-avril 2009).