Conspiracy Wall

The “conspiracy wall” meme offers a cinematic interpretation of how conspiracies spread. However, it is ultimately misleading: those who subscribe to the kinds of theories peddled by Alex Jones and the like are not looking for logical explanations, but rather for permission to feel how they want to feel

Startup “Cults”

It’s common to hear startups or tech company cultures described as “cultish.” But using “cult” as a pejorative not only imports a dehumanizing and carceral line of critique; it also separates the companies being critiqued from the larger historical and political forces that shape them.

Close to the Metal

Programming a computer was once obviously a form of physical labor, a matter of hauling cables and adjusting switches that presented themselves as arrays in physical space. Being “close to the metal” derives from this and captures a friction in our interactions with machines that is increasingly being hidden.


My phone’s battery icon has become emblematic of what it means to regain my energy: I want to turn from red to green. Saying that I need to “recharge” is at once an acknowledgement of my depletion and a sign of my hope that reviving it could be as simple as plugging in. I am thinking of myself like my device, and as such, reducing my life to a deadening cycle.


A false shorthand for unity provides a cover for corporate interests

On a Journey

Whether we advertise it on our social media, and whether we like it or not, we are all on many “journeys” with many brands toward conversion and retention — long-lasting relationships with consumer brands without a clear end-point. While they claim to lead us on a path of self-discovery and liberation, these brands mediate and circumscribe our lives’ possibilities.

Let’s Take This Offline

The real implication of let’s take this offline is that, online or offline, you are always already in the wrong place. If the metaphor seems incoherent, even contradictory, that’s because it reflects the contradictory demands of the workplace.

The 30,000-Foot View

The rhetorical trick in the “30,000-foot view” is in how it allows for a differentiation between those who are merely impressed if not overawed with the all-encompassing aerial perspective and those who can read it and control it. It seems to present a claim to objectivity, but it is more an expression of status.

I Don’t Have the Bandwidth

We almost never talk about “having the bandwidth” for something; it is usually in the negative. The “bandwidth” metaphor plays on the concept of hard limits, set and managed by forces outside our control — fate, or, in the literal sense, internet providers or the FCC. It is inelastic, and also not our fault.

Beyond Machine Sight

On those nights when I have stayed up too late, binge-watching shows on Netflix or scrolling through Twitter, I have the disturbing sensation that the rest of my body has ceased to exist, and I am nothing but a giant eyeball, absorbing signals from my screen. Something similar happens in the way digital technology is often discussed. Its more obvious engagement with sight distracts us from what is going on both beneath the screen and beyond our retinas.

Plague of Metaphors

Your computer was infected because you did something morally objectionable, like torrenting a video game, stealing an album, or searching for porn. What did you think would happen? To let your machine become infected was to have been at the very least thoughtless and, at the worst, culpable — you sent the plague.