Virus, viralité, visceralité – Logiques culturelles et processus sociaux en réseau

Voilà la présentation contenant les notes de la première séance de mon séminaire EHESS Corps et TIC : approches socio-anthropologiques des usages numériques : rôle et place de la notion de virus dans la culture du numérique.

La prochaine séance (où il sera question de cyborgs et d’hacktivisme) aura lieu le jeudi 9 décembre de 17h à 19h en salle 5, 105 bd Raspail 75006 Paris. Pour s’inscrire, il suffit de m’envoyer un petit mail gentil.


Hitler, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the fading legitimacy of academic institutions

By Antonio A. Casilli (Centre Edgar-Morin, EHESS) [1]

Another day, another Hitler parody video. This one (courtesy of is a rant about the rise of digital scholarship –  a subjet I cherish and occasionally deal with in my seminar. The German dictator, now reborn as a grotesque Internet meme, highlights the existing cultural divide between the up-and-coming Internet-savvy “junior” scholars and the ageing generation of paper-intensive, book-prone professors and researchers. Bitterly, he claims academic teaching is “a dying profession” (why he’s not the only one: check here and here).

“We were great once”, cries Hitler, voicing the disappointment of old time academics. “A proud institution. We controlled knowledge: we told everyone what and how to think. Now (…) we spend our time propping up our fading legitimacy”.


Google et au-delà : numéro spécial de la revue "Multitudes"

“Si Google nous oppresse, il s’agit d’une oppression douce et séduisante, que nous acceptons volontiers pour notre confort sur le Net. Dans son ADN comme dans sa réalité sociale et économique, Google a quelque chose d’hégémonique, mais il n’est pas et ne sera jamais dictatorial. Bref, sa puissance de contrôle, si contrôle il y a, ne se décline plus sur le mode disciplinaire, mais selon les règles de nos désirs et de notre soif d’informations pertinentes et impertinentes. Google ne nous demande pas de l’utiliser, comme il n’exige pas des développeurs qu’ils adoptent sa plate-forme en open-source Android pour les terminaux mobiles. Il nous suggère et, finalement, nous convainc de le faire, par paresse peut-être, comme pour mieux nous renvoyer à notre propre image”. (Beyond Google, par Ariel Kyrou et Yann Moulier Boutang)

"Le gouvernement français doit oublier les droits d’auteur s'il veut éviter le pire"

La Commission pour l’Economie Numérique présidée par Alain Bravo vient de remettre à la Secrétaire d’Etat Nathalie Kosciusko Morizet son rapport sur La société et l’économie à l’aune de la révolution numérique : enjeux et perspectives des prochaines décennies (2015/2025).
De prime abord, ses résultats peuvent ne pas paraître surprenants, mais détrompez-vous. Ils représentent une petite révolution dans le contexte français.


Cambridge researcher says free social use should prevail over copyright protection

identifier4Patricia Akester (University of Cambridge) undertook a project looking at the impact of technological measures on the ability of users to take advantage of the statutory exceptions to copyright. Based on a series of interviews with key organisations and individuals, involved in the use of copyright material and the development of DRM (Digital Rights Management), she provides a sober assessment of the current state of affairs. (more…)

The International “Futur en Seine” Festival

Futur en Seine ( is a new popular Festival of the Digital city, a unique cultural, technological and social event, which will take place from 29th May to 7th June in the city of Paris and Ile de France region. For ten days, across the city and region, you will be able to see, touch and interact with innovative technologies and applications which will be part of daily life in the digital city of the future. The scale and scope of the Festival is breathtaking: 10 full days, 40 venues, some 300 events, 16 major prototypes, 30 conferences, and a digital village….all free of charge!


Larry Lessig's Book on Internet Governance Turns Ten and Goes Creative Commons

Ten years ago, Lawrence Lessig published Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, a groundbreaking study on Internet governance insisting that it is not through laws that governements and private powers control the Internet, but via its software architecture, i.e. the code. Today, at the close of Web 2.0, as cloud computing hangs over our heads like the sword of Damocles, his message is still relevant. How many passwords and logins do we have to juggle with on a daily basis just to perform simple tasks (check emails, watch pictures, save files)? These are very small controls that certify users identity, status, location etc. and route them in one direction or another. Exit the laws regulating individual lives, the new internet governance is more comparable to cattle drive. “Bovinity” emerges as the new human condition in technologically-enhanced times.

A fundamental principle of bovinity is operating here and elsewhere. Tiny controls, consistently enforced, are enough to direct very large animals. The controls of a certificate-rich Internet are tiny, I agree. But we are large animals. I think it is as likely that the majority of people would resist these small but efficient regulators of the Net as it is that cows would resist wire fences. This is who we are, and this is why these regulations work. (Lessig, p. 73)

Despite its far-sightedness, after ten years in print and ten years of changes in law and technology, the book needed an update. In 2005, a wiki was created to this purpose. The resulting new version of the book, Code Version 2.0, is now online under Creative Commons licence. This means you can download the new edition  for free just clicking here.

In 2009 the

The end of Wikipedia as we know it

“Wiki, c’est fini?” one would ask (if one was a cheesy French singer from the 1960s). More seriously, is the dream of an open access encyclopedia over? According to a recent article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education the wiki model has “run out of steam“. Don’t worry, the article is not a trite invective insisting that Wikipedia is not reliable because the author of the article on Platonism is also the author of the one on Desperate Housewives. The message here is mainly that the participatory knowledge base  model turns out to be a utopian dream (at best). As of today, Wikipedia is mainly just another social network service (with its profiles, friend counts and online grooming rituals) – and not a very performing one, either.

But this is not the worst part. I’m more concerned with Wikipedia losing its liberal street cred and becoming yet another ivory-towering knowledge institution, with its coercing ontologies and its bigbrotheresque rules. If, in the current intellectual debate over scientific authority, we’re actually fighting the academic equivalent of Star Wars, last thing we need here is to discover that the rebel HQ Coruscant has been replaced by the Death Star.  

Wikipedia: the next inevitable step?

Wikipedia's next logo?


Support Prof. Horacio Potel!, or a portrait of the philosopher as a pirate

Addendum, Nov 14, 2009: As of today, we salute the recent decision of the Argentinian court dropping the charges against Prof Potel. Read more about this here (in English). Download court’s sentence here (in Spanish).

Argentinean professor charged criminally for promoting access to knowledge
By the CopySouth Research Group

A philosophy professor in Argentina, Horacio Potel, is facing criminal charges for maintaining a website devoted to translations of works by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. His alleged crime:  copyright infringement. Here is Professor Potel’s sad story.

Prof. Potel usually wears a pirate eye patch while lecturing in philosophy

Prof. Potel usually puts his pirate patch on *before* lecturing in philosophy at UNLA

“I was fascinated at the unlimited possibilities offered by the internet for knowledge exchange”, explains Horacio Potel, a Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional de Lanús in Buenos Aires. In 1999, he set up a personal website to collect essays and other works of some well-known philosophers, starting with the German Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. Potel’s websites – Nietzsche in Spanish, Heidegger in Spanish, and Derrida in Spanish – eventually developed into growing online libraries of freely downloadable philosophical texts. Nietzsche in Spanish alone has already received more than four million visitors.


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