M+M | 03/15/2022 | Ben Peters: After Computation: Critical Reflections on Digital Crisis [Response: Paize Keulemans]
In this discussion, Thomas S. Mullaney and Benjamin Peters - two of the editors of Your Computer Is On Fire (MIT Press 2021, with Mar Hicks and Kavita Philip) - gather to explore the question: Is there a world after computation? When narratives of techo-solutionism, -utopianism, and -neutrality no longer rock us to sleep; when once-soothing generalities like "human error," "bugs," "virtual reality," and "the cloud" wear down to reveal the jagged edges beneath the surface; when we remember that nothing is virtual, but that everything that "happens online," "virtually," and "autonomously" happens offline first, where do we go from here?
Thomas S. Mullaney is a Professor of History of Stanford University, the Kluge Chair in Technology and Society at the Library of Congress, and a recent Guggenheim. He is the author or lead editor of six books, including The Chinese Typewriter (MITP 2017), Your Computer is On Fire (MITP 2021), and the forthcoming The Chinese Computer—the first comprehensive history of Chinese-language computing.
Benjamin Peters is a media scholar and the author of How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (MITP 2016), the editor of Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society & Culture (Princeton 2016), and, with Thomas S. Mullaney, Mar Hicks, and Kavita Philip, coeditor of Your Computer is on Fire (MITP 2021).
Paize Keulemans is Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of East Asian Studies. He is the author of Sound Rising from the Paper: 19th-century Martial Arts Fiction and the Chinese Acoustic Imagination (Harvard University Asia Center Press, 2015) and his second project is entitled Idle Chatter: informal Information Networks in Ming Dynasty Literature. He is currently working on the video-game adaptations of the four Ming masterworks of Chinese fiction, a study provisionally entitled Old Novels, New Games: Chinese Cultures of Play in the Late Ming Dynasty and Early Twentieth Century.