Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction: A Thesis


I passed my PhD viva a couple of weeks ago, so can now post the finalised version here if anyone wants to read any of it (but please cite accordingly): THORNTON_THESIS_FINALFINAL.

Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction: A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism will also be available from my Royal Holloway PURE page, but I want to keep monitoring the price of the thesis over time/place, so I’ll see how it works with the analytics information from this site. Each time someone accesses the thesis from here, I will process and record the Google AdWords suggested bid price on that particular day and geographical market. I’m not sure what I will do with this, or how to visualise it yet, but seeing as I have now committed my words to a life in digital space, I wanted to add one last layer of critique.

IMG_3661Of course, I also I couldn’t resist putting the whole thing through {poem}.py and printing it out. What is language in the age of algorithmic reproduction worth to Google? …  £33091.22

I have yet to analyse the monetised thesis in depth (there may be a paper to come out of this…), but a brief look shows some tantalising insights. In the ‘Google philosopher’ battle  (see Feuz et. al 2011), Kant comes in at a bargain £0.02, while Nietzsche and Foucault are neck and neck at £0.14 each. VOIP reveals its significance at £17.36, while Mesothelioma confirms its position as per popular myth at £56.63. Perhaps most relevant to my work on Subprime Language and Linguistic Liquidity, is that the suggested price for the word ‘illiquid’ was £16.52 per click when I processed the thesis, which is pretty meta.

The thesis contains parts of some already published material, including work on the concepts of Geographies of (con)text, and Subprime Language. Other material, including the ‘Benjamin chapter’, work on the political economy of Google AdWords and a critique of the Hayekian rhetoric of such markets (which was developed with John Danaher), will hopefully be published in the near future. I also have many plans for more creative interventions and critique, and a few more papers/book projects in the pipeline.


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