Computational Culture

a journal of software studies

CFPs & Events

CFP: Special Issue of Computational Culture on Rhetoric and Computation

Rhetoric has historically been a discipline concerned with the ways that spoken and written language shape human activity. Similarly, emerging work in digital media studies (in areas such as software studies, critical code studies, and platform studies) seeks to describe the ways that computation shapes contemporary life. This special issue of Computational Culture on “Rhetoric and Computation” merges these two modes of inquiry to explore how together they can help us to understand ways that our communication and computational activities are now constituted by both human and computer languages.

Coupling the analysis of rhetoric with computation provokes a number of questions: How is the rhetorical force of computational objects different from or similar to that of language, sound, or image? What new modes of communication open up when we view computation as an expressive medium? How does computation shape or constrain rhetorical action? What new tropes, figures, and strategies emerge in computational environments? How do programmers deploy rhetoric at the level of code and interface? These questions are not exhaustive, and we welcome papers or computational projects that pursue these questions and others like them.

Topics or projects might include:

  • Computational artifacts (such as videogames or art installations) designed to make procedural arguments and model systems or phenomena
  • Analysis of multiple choice tests processed by computers as rhetorical artifacts, aimed at both human (citizens, students) and nonhuman (machine) audiences.
  • How computational strategies such as surveillance supercede more traditional spheres of rhetorical deliberation such as written law
  • The ways in which computational data interpellate individuals and define citizenship
  • Strategies of the “quantified self” as a way of shaping human behaviour
  • Rhetorical analysis of computational systems used by governmental, educational, and political entities
  • How computational systems are described for different audiences from groups of expert programmers to the general public
  • The use of software algorithms to simulate and evaluate various activities, such as writing and conversation
  • Rhetorical strategies deployed by communities of programmers and designers in marginal comments, online forums or physical workplaces
  • Analysis of computational machines as rhetors (i.e., understanding the actions of such machines in terms of the tropes, figures, and strategies they deploy)

    300 word abstracts are due November 25, 2013. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editors. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by January 31, 2014 and invited to submit full manuscripts by April 1, 2014. These manuscripts are subject to outside peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published Fall 2014.

    Please send abstracts and inquiries to Jim Brown and Annette Vee: and

    James J. Brown, Jr.
    Assistant Professor
    Department of English and Program in Digital Studies
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Annette Vee
    Assistant Professor
    Department of English
    University of Pittsburgh

    Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.


    Call for Papers:

    The Culture of the Artificial symposium, at AISB-­50, Goldsmiths, London, 1-­4 April 2014

    • As part of the AISB-­‐50 Annual Convention 2014 to be held at Goldsmiths, University of London, on April 1st-4th 2014
    • The convention is organised by the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB)


    In 1964, when AISB was founded, computing was largely associated with the repetitive operations of the large mainframe machines employed by the military, by industry and by space programmes. Alan Turing, who had died prematurely just a decade before, had formalised the notion of what it means to compute in his seminal work of 1936, and in 1950 he had speculated again as to the association between computation and mental operations. Yet in 1964, the mechanisation of computation through digital means was generally only familiar to the scientist, the businessman and the maverick. Today, by contrast – half a century later – much has changed: from taking a phone call or a picture, from shipping goods to organising labour, without risk of exaggeration one could say that few activities in the contemporary world can evade the computational altogether. To all intents and purposes, we live in a computational culture, many of the principles and possibilities of which were established and reinforced in those mid-century explorations from which the AISB originated.

    In this symposium we take computational culture as our topic and object of enquiry. We argue for the existence of a specific ‘culture of the artificial’, to paraphrase Herbert Simon’s expression, and contend that its foundations, limits and potentials can be best approached and analysed only if this artificiality is granted the possibility not just of imitating, amplifying or speeding up the cultural, the societal, and the economic but of producing them in its own terms, times and modes. The Culture of the Artificial symposium will therefore bring together cultural theorists, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians and practitioners to investigate how computational artificiality and algorithmic simulation are not simply passive markers of 21st century culture, but amongst its most active players and decision-makers. For this symposium we invite contributions that engage with the theoretical and historical foundations and implications of this scenario, and possibly help to define strategies and methodologies for understanding its future developments.

    This event thus aims to move beyond general arguments about the rapidity and power of the information society, about the distribution of computational technology or about the commercialization of the Internet (factors that have, for material as much as ideological reasons, certainly contributed to the establishment of computational culture as such). Similarly, we want to move beyond some of the traditional critiques of the artificial and of the simulated that have been perpetuated, at various points, by cultural theory. ‘Cyberculture’, ‘digital media’, ‘information revolution’ are familiar cultural tropes, synecdoches for something more significant; computation was a component part of all of them, but now needs to be studied in its own peculiarity and distinctiveness. Making this claim of course does not equate to advocating a naïve embrace of the rationalization and quantification of life and society, but actually asks us to be even more attentive to and critical towards the detail and operation of such dynamics.

    The event is organized in the context of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour annual convention due to two main motives. On the one hand, we argue for historical and conceptual resonances between the emerging condition of a computational culture and the development of the AI programme: the former arguably stemmed from the contingencies and formalisms that the latter initiated or participated in.  Equally, the condition of computational culture shares much of the hopes, fears, sensibilities and practicalities of the broad AI field and its historical precedents.  Software studies approaches drawing on computing, media and cultural theory, philosophy, art, science and technology studies are means of attending to these resonances.

    Our second motive is more methodological: computational culture is a culture where notions of the artificial and the natural blur, where science and the humanities converse, where the empirical and the formal clash, but in which each needs and tangles with the other. Equally, computation produces fully-fledged ontologies and epistemologies, many of which originated in primarily technical contexts but are now active as and with cultural forms in their own right.  This condition creates a novel context for the understanding of forms of intelligence and behaviour and for the development of new research programmes operating in a fully inter-disciplinary or post-disciplinary manner.

    Topics of Interest

    We welcome submissions from various fields of expertise and areas of research related to the rationale of this event. Topics include, but are definitely not limited to:

    – Software Studies analyses of historical artificial intelligence and simulated behaviour artefacts;

    – Critical and philosophical analyses of the legacy and achievements of Alan Turing in relation to culture;

    – Developments in modes of collaboration and mutual problematisation between cultural theory and artificial intelligence and robotics (such as for instance the “Critical Technical Practice” proposed by Philip Agre);

    – Artificiality and simulation as modes of speculative culture;

    -The cultural and political conditions of the pursuit of AI agendas in the generalization of computational forms of life;

    – Speculative possibilities for a theoretical and practical exploration of what intelligence is or might be said to be in relation to the computational turn in culture.

    Submission and Publication Details

    Submissions must be full papers and should be sent to:

    Text editor templates from a previous convention can be found at:

    We request that submitted papers are limited to 2000 words. We will provide fast feedback on whether a paper is accepted or not.  Each accepted paper will receive at least two reviews. Selected papers will be published in the general proceedings of the AISB Convention, with the proviso that at least ONE author attends the symposium in order to present the paper and participate in general symposium activities.

    Papers successfully submitted and presented will be considered for further development towards inclusion in a special issue of the online open-access peer-review journal “Computational Culture, a journal of software studies”:

    Important Dates

    1. Full paper submission deadline: 3 January 2014

    ii.  Notification of acceptance/rejection decisions: 3 February 2014

    iii. Final versions of accepted papers (Camera ready copy): 24 February 2014

    1. Convention: 1-­‐4 April 2014 [confirmation of symposium dates tbc]

    Additional Information

    Please note that there will be separate proceedings for each symposium, produced before the convention. Each delegate will receive a memory stick containing the proceedings of all the symposia. In previous years there have been awards for the best student paper, and limited student bursaries. These details will be circulated as and when they become available. Authors of a selection of the best papers will be invited to submit an extended version of the work to a journal special issue.

    Symposium Chairs

    Matthew Fuller (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths) and M. Beatrice Fazi (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths)

    Organising Committee

    M. Beatrice Fazi, Matthew Fuller & Luciana Parisi, Digital Culture Unit, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

    Computational Culture Editorial Group, Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths), Olga Goriunova (Warwick), Andrew Goffey (Nottingham), Graham Harwood (Goldsmiths), Adrian Mackenzie (Lancaster).

    Symposium Website







    Older Events

    Launch Event:

    Computational Culture, Issue Two,
    Virality, Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks, by Tony D. Sampson
    Evil Media, by Matthew Fuller & Andrew Goffey

    Free, all welcome

    22nd October 2012
    Room RHB 342
    New Cross
    Location Information

    To celebrate these publications, informal presentations will be made by the authors of Virality and Evil Media and contributors to Computational Culture.

    ‘Computational Culture’  is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.  The new issue presents articles by Carlos Barreneche, Jennifer Gabrys, Robert W. Gehl & Sarah Bell, Shintaro Miyazaki, Bernhard Rieder, Bernard Stiegler, Annette Vee and reviews by Chiara Bernardi, Greg Elmer, KevinHamilton, Boris Ružiæ, Felix Stalder and an anonymous contributor.

    In ‘Virality’ Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Virality does not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors. It instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is not necessarily a positive or negative force of encounter; it is how society comes together and relates.
    [University of Minnesota Press]

    ‘Evil Media’ invites the reader to explore and understand the abstract infrastructure of the present day. From search engines to flirting strategies, from the value of institutional stupidity to the malicious minutiae of databases, this book shows how the devil is in the details.  The title takes the imperative “Don’t be evil” and asks, what would be done any differently in contemporary computational and networked media were that maxim reversed.
    [The MIT Press]

    In ‘Sensing an Experimental Forest’, her article for ‘Computational Culture’ 2, Jennifer Gabrys discusses fieldwork conducted at an environmental sensor test site, the James Reserve in California.  The use of wireless sensor networks to study environmental phenomena is an increasingly prevalent practice, and ecological applications of sensors have been central to the development of wireless sensor networks that now extend to numerous ‘participatory’ applications.


    Evil Media

    Computational Culture

  • Computational Culture – ISSN 2047-2390

    Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures.
  • Selected Links