The Humanity+Technology lecture series offers an interdisciplinary conversation about the world we make and what it means. We bring leading humanities scholars to LTU’s campus, where they help us interpret, imagine, or understand the past, present, and future of our technologies.

Attribution and Evasion
Aarthi Vadde, Associate Professor of English, Duke University

October 11, 2022

This talk was about experiments in authorship and editorship that constitute a backlash against a post-Web 2.0 internet mired in privatization, commercialization, and surveillance. It argued, via readings of web institutions (e.g. Creative Commons) and literary texts (e.g. Jonathan Lethem’s “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism” and Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts), that attribution has become the dominant form of compensation for creative online expression under Web 2.0. Precisely because attribution seems ethical and transparent, it is easy to miss its pernicious effects on public discourse. Attribution increases the sway of private property and credit accumulation over how people view expression while greasing the wheels of surveillance projects at the data-tracking level of social media platforms. The second half of the talk turned to the work of avant-garde writer-publisher Stewart Home whose theory and use of multiple-use names (fixed names adopted by multiple people for fluid purposes) deploy evasion as an anarchic critique of the privatized social web.

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