digitalculturesnews REMINDER – TOMORROW: “Habitual New Media” with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun


The Mellon Research Initiative in Digital Cultures invites you to attend:


Food for Thought with
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Professor of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University

WHEN: Wednesday, October 28th, 12:00 – 2:00 PM
WHERE: UC Davis School of Law, King Hall Rm 1301

Please RSVP to Uyen Le at uple for a copy of Professor Chun’s paper for discussion. Lunch will be Provided.

New media—we are told—exist at the bleeding edge of obsolescence. We thus forever try to catch up, updating to remain the same. Meanwhile, analytic, creative, and commercial efforts focus exclusively on the next big thing: figuring out what will spread and who will spread it the fastest. But what do we miss in this constant push to the future? In Habitual New Media, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun suggests another approach, arguing that our media matter most when they seem not to matter at all—when they have moved from "new" to habitual. Smart phones, for example, no longer amaze, but they increasingly structure and monitor our lives; is no longer a social media site, but friends remain. Through habits, Chun says, new media become embedded in our lives—indeed, we become our machines: we stream, update, capture, upload, link, save, trash, and troll. Chun links habits to the rise of networks as the defining concept of our era. Networks have been central to the emergence of neoliberalism, replacing "society" with groupings of individuals and connectable "YOUS" (for isn’t "new media" actually "NYOU media"?). Habit—which is both personal and collective—grounds collectivity in the age of neoliberalism and is also central to the inversion of privacy and publicity that drives neoliberalism and networks. Why do we view our networked devices as "personal" when they are so chatty and promiscuous? What would happen, Chun asks, if, rather than pushing for privacy that is no privacy, we demanded public rights—the right to be exposed, to take risks and to be in public—and not be attacked?

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Professor and Chair of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), and Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (MIT 2011). She is the Velux Visiting Professor of Management, Politics and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School and an Associate in the History of Science Department at Harvard. Her forthcoming monograph is entitled Habitual New Media (forthcoming MIT 2016).