Talk at Aarhus University

Aarhus University

This Friday I’ll give a lecture at Aarhus University in Denmark, speaking about software, the unified logics of capitalism and computing, and artistic tactics of bounding that employ degrowth aesthetics as a countering practice.

From Forever More to Degrowth Aesthetics: Tactics of Bounding in the Digital Infinite

Despite their lofty mission statements, today’s leading social media platforms primarily emphasize one singular concept: more . These capitalist software machines are designed to stoke an insatiable cycle of production and consumption in order to maximize corporate growth and profit. To achieve this, they leverage data and scale to produce signals and interface patterns that keep users engaged, promising connection and joy in exchange for growing shares of our time and attention. This talk presents a series of art projects that resist these accumulative logics, works that employ an aesthetics of degrowth that reconfigures and/or reimagines the social apps that aim to trap us in endless loops—until there’s no more time left to give.

17 November
Peter Bøgh Andersen Auditorium (5335-016)


Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto as Redaction Poetry

Screenshot of redaction poetry version of Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto

Yesterday, the influential Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen published what he titled The Techno-Optimist Manifesto, an anti-regulation anti-ethics hyper-capitalist growth-obsessed screed that, sadly, highlights the thinking that’s led to so much exploitative toxic tech. Instead of writing a point-by-point critique, I instead chose to simplify Andreessen’s arguments using redaction poetry. The result leaves in place the little bits one needs to get a decent sense of Marc’s thinking.

You can read the full redaction poetry version of Andreessen’s Manifesto. If interested, here is a link to the original document.

Screenshot of redaction poetry version of Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto

Screenshot of redaction poetry version of Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto

Screenshot of redaction poetry version of Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto

Feature about my work in La Presse (Montreal)

La Presse

La Presse (Montreal) wrote a feature about my work in a piece titled Ben Grosser, l’antinumérique, and also quoted me in another, titled À la recherche du réseau social idéal (In search of the ideal social network). (Note: both are in French)

Minus Featured in The New York Times

The New York Times

My social network Minus was featured in yesterday’s New York Times. In an article titled The Future of Social Media Is a Lot Less Social, journalist Brian X. Chen writes about the increasingly impersonal nature of big social platforms, and the space that shift is creating for smaller online spaces. He quotes Jonathan Zittrain talking about Minus as an experimental alternative that treats our time and attention as the finite resources they are:

One app that emerged from the program, Minus, lets users publish only 100 posts on their timeline for life. The idea is to make people feel connected in an environment where their time together is treated as a precious and finite resource, unlike traditional social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that use infinite scrolling interfaces to keep users engaged for as long as possible. “It’s a performance art experiment,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of law and computer science at Harvard who started the research initiative. “It’s the kind of thing that as soon as you see it, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

If you haven’t tried out Minus yourself, give it a try.

Data and (Dis)Obedience Conference in Boston

Data and (Dis)Obedience Conference at Northeastern

On 15 March I’ll be on a panel at the Data and (Dis)Obedience Conference at Northeastern University, talking about artistic approaches to data surveillance. Keynote is by Marek Tuszynski from Tactical Tech. Conference is organized by Jen Gradecki, and is being streamed online if you’re not in Boston. Register here.

Workshop on Imagining Alternative Social Media Designs

Workshop at Berkman Klein Harvard

I’m running this hybrid workshop at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard on March 23, framing and guiding some collective thinking on social media alternatives to the status quo. If you’re interested, please join! You can get all the details here.

Recent Books Discussing my Projects

Books by Mulgan, Ganyet, and Sicart

Recent books discussing my projects include:

Thanks to Miguel for sending a copy of his book, as I can’t wait to read it! I’ve got the Mulgan on order. Sadly I can’t read the Ganyet as I can’t read Spanish, but hopefully an English translation is in the works.

CBC Interview as Part of Spark Retrospective

CBC Radio (Canada) featured me in the opening segment of its recent 16-year retrospective of the tech/culture show Spark, looking back at interviewees who had been “eerily predictive” about the future of social media, algorithms, etc. The segment starts after the intro:

Other replayed guests included Zeynep Tufecki and Evegeny Morozov. Turns out this aired on Jan 1, 2023, but I just learned of it recently.

Presentation and Dialogue as part of We Are Not Sick at REDCAT in Los Angeles

Geert Lovink will be performing his work We Are Not Sick at REDCAT in Los Angeles. I’m excited to be a part of the event, giving a short presentation on my own platform resistance projects and then moderating a dialogue with Geert after. We Are Not Sick is a real-time multimedia lecture/performance version of Geert’s book Sad by Design, bringing spoken word, music, and image together in a reflection on the sadness-inducing states of today’s big social platforms.

This event is the closing event of a day-long symposium called Staying on the Grid: Platforms, Psyches, and Paths, whose panels include scholar Dr Sarah T Roberts and artist Lauren McCarthy, both UCLA profs.

Platform Sweet Talk at Near Now in Nottingham

Platform Sweet Talk installed at Near Now in Nottingham

My work Platform Sweet Talk is currently installed at Near Now in Nottingham, England. The show is part of a series of exhibitions that make up Privacy Techtonics, a exhibition that features myself, Tara Kelton, Forensic Architecture, Yuri Pattison, Libby Heaney, Joey Holder, and James Bridle.

I also sat down with Lipika Kamra and Philippa Williams of Otoka to talk about the exhibition and social media and privacy more widely.