The Uberfication of the University (Open access Forerunners series version available here; as of April 4 2017 an interactive Manifold series version is available here.)

Públicos Fantasma - La Naturaleza Política Del Libro - La Red (Mexico: Taller de Ediciones Económicas, 2016) - new book, co-authored with Andrew Murphie, Janneke Adema and Alessandro Ludovico. 

'Posthumanities: The Dark Side of "The Dark Side of the Digital"' (with Janneke Adema), in Janneke Adema and Gary Hall, eds, Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities, Journal of Electronic PublishingVol. 9, No.2, Winter, 2016.

'Pirate Philosophy And Post-Capitalism: A Conversation With Gary Hall', by Mark Carrigan, The Sociological Imagination, December 8, 2016.

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repository CURVE here 

performative project Janneke Adema has put together, based on our ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’ article for New Formations, Number 78, Summer, 2013. 

'What Does's Success Mean for Open Access: The Data-Driven World of Search Engines and Social Networking', Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, no.5, 2015.

Radical Open Access network


Thinking With Media Technologies

(What follows is the fourth part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here; the second part, 'Liberalism as a "Way of Doing Things"', here; the third, 'From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg', here.)

THE EDITORS: You’re very active in the field of open access publishing. Could you tell us about your motivation for being so?


GARY HALL: As I say, variations on the narrative that sees us moving from an era of written and printed communication into a ‘universe of technical images’, as Flusser calls it, have been provided by a number of theorists and philosophers.   But if this is the case, rather than concentrating on writing even more commercially copyrighted, linearly organised, bound and printed codex books about it, might it not be more appropriate for us to try to understand this post-Gutenberg universe by acting as though we are indeed living through a long process of transition from one era to another, whatever form the latter may eventually turn out to take?

It’s from the performance artist Stelarc, perhaps more than anyone else, that I’ve learned the importance of engaging with media technologies as things we think with and not just through or about. In his talks and lectures Stelarc takes great care to emphasise that he doesn’t feel he can explore how different developments in technology are altering our understanding of the body and the human unless he is able to achieve his often extremely difficult to realise performances with robotics, medical procedures, cybernetic systems and the internet; unless he actually has, for example, an extra ear surgically constructed, positioned as an additional bodily feature, and able to ‘broadcast RealAudio sounds to augment the local sounds that the actual ears hear', and perhaps to ‘whisper sweet nothings’ to them.  

At the same time, Stelarc is aware that in doing so, he is merely offering his own  – albeit rather unique, some would say physically quite extreme – contribution to that long tradition of artists, writers and philosophers who have stressed the importance of understanding our relationship to media and other technologies performatively. It is a tradition that includes Friedrich Nietzsche, who claimed that ‘our writing tools are also working on our thoughts’; Ludwig Wittgenstein, who commented that ‘I really do think with my pen, because my head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing’; and also William Blake, who in his poem Jerusalem observed that ‘If Perceptive organs vary, Objects of Perception seem to vary’.

So what are the implications for us, as media, cultural and communication studies students and scholars, of the theory that is being rehearsed here: that our performances with media technologies exist in an enmeshed, processual, intra-active relationship with our thoughts and bodies? Well, for one thing, it means our thoughts do not pre-exist this relationship. Once again we can see that they are created at least in part by the ‘tools’ we use to express them, as well as by the performance of doing so, including that part of the performance that involves the physical human body. But what it also means is that if these tools and performances change – if as a culture we switch from writing predominantly with a pen to communicating increasingly with a typewriter, networked computer keyboard, Bluetooth-enabled tablet touchscreen, or Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset – then so do our thoughts.

What it certainly does not mean is that we all now have to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and Google Scholar so we can try to understand our post-Gutenberg world by learning to think with these corporate media environments (and not just about them). It doesn’t mean we have to go along passively with the transition from the printed codex book to networked digital information and data flows. But neither does it mean we should be acting today as if we can somehow replicate the conditions of the Gutenberg galaxy – especially its quiet, private spaces where an individual could concentrate on reading and writing books without having their thoughts disturbed by a constant stream of communications from the outside world. (I’m thinking of Jonathan Franzen permanentley sealing up the Ethernet port on his laptop that enables him to connect to the internet so he can write his great American novels, or Nicholas Carr moving to the mountains in Colorado where there is no cell phone service to produce his books about how the internet is damaging our brains.) Indeed, one of the main points I want to make is that, when it comes to our ways of being and doing in the world, these two culture industry-dominated systems for the creation, publication and dissemination of knowledge and information – what we might crudely characterise as the classic ‘closed’ system of print culture and the newer ‘semi-closed’ system of corporate social and mobile media – are not so very different in this respect.  Instead, I’m motivated more by the idea of taking some of the tendencies associated with this transition and giving them new inflections that are different to both the neoliberal and the liberal ‘“way of doing things”’.


From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg 

(What follows is the third part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here; the second part, 'Liberalism as a "Way of Doing Things"', here.)

THE EDITORS: In the conference you also talked about the shift from a Gutenberg to a Zuckerberg galaxy. Could you elaborate on that? 


GARY HALL: What I was referring to is the idea that the development of the print codex book and the related requirement for closed spaces in which to read and write has had a fundamental role in the emergence of modern subjectivity – along with the associated notions of the rational liberal individual, linear thought (and the related long-form argument), critical reflection (the grammatical rules used in the production of linear written texts constituting a test for reason), and also the public/private distinction. The work of Vilém Flusser, Walter Ong and Bernard Stiegler should all be mentioned in this context. Without doubt, however, the most famous expression of this idea remains that of Marshall McLuhan

It is this Gutenberg galaxy, as McLuhan calls it, which is seen as having played a large part in giving us our sense of the private individual. Moving quickly again, this occured because once books became widely available thanks to the invention of the printing press, private spaces were needed in which they could be read, concentrated on and thought about: a study or ‘room of one’s own’, to borrow the words of Virginia Woolf. The provision of just such a study area is one of the functions libraries have fulfilled: historically, they have provided the kind of quiet, solitary spaces for the reading and contemplation of books that have helped to form our subjectivities, our sense of the individual, our sense of the difference between the public and the private. 

Now, if the development of the print book has had a significant role in the emergence of modern subjectivity and consciousness, it follows that the ideas readers and writers have are not separate and distinct from the material apparatuses with which those ideas are physically created, published and circulated. Rather, we can see that things and words, body and mind, language and reality, the so-called immaterial and material are enmeshed here – to the point where the material qualities and properties of books form the environmental pre-conditions for the constitution of the ideas they carry and convey. (Although it’s worth emphasising that they don’t determine those ideas; not least because there are other forces and energies at work that are non-technological and media related. So this is not a theory of technogenesis, for me: it’s not that human development has gone hand in hand only with technological development). 

However, we can now be said to be in the process of leaving the Gutenberg era and moving instead into what I was teasingly referring to as the Zuckerberg galaxy. Of course we don’t yet know what form the latter is eventually going to take. What we can say is that, at the moment at least, our world is dominated less and less by the print codex book, and more and more by the kinds of digital networks and mobile media that have been made possible by the development of the internet, computers, laptops, smart phones and the cloud. In my talk I illustrated this change by taking as an example the library at Coventry University. What’s noticeable about the Frederick Lanchester Library, as it’s called, is that it’s undergone something of a redesign (what its website refers to as a Refurbishment Project). It no longer has so many small, enclosed, quiet spaces of the kind that used to be quite common in university libraries. (Often they were provided in the form of carrel desks, a design originating in monasteries.) Instead – and in line with a lot of contemporary libraries – the Lanchester is now much more open. It’s frequently quite noisy too. Of course, students are still going there on occasion to read a print book by themselves in private, much as they might have done in decades past. But when students are in the library these days they’re often sitting around together on sofas and at large open tables, they’re chatting to friends, they’re working on group projects, they’re texting on their phones, they’re downloading digital combinations of print and other media onto their tablets. So the library no longer offers a clearly maintained (and librarian policed) boundary between the private and the public to quite the extent that it used to. Nowadays, as a space, it’s too networked, it’s too digitally connected, for that to be appropriate, or even possible. (See the New City of Perth Library in Australia for another example. My thanks to Nina Sellars for drawing my attention to the fact that books are not included on the list of this public library's key features, and only get a brief mention in its online description.) 

A lot of the teaching in the Media department here at Coventry (which is where this interview is taking place) is likewise based on responding to this emerging new world of dynamic digital information and data: of user-generated content, of crowd-sourcing, of grassroots political movements and so forth. It’s now much more concerned with opening the university up, just as the library is being opened up in the 21st century, so as to make the courses we teach, as well as the rooms and buildings we teach in, much less rooted in the print paradigm.  

Coming back once more to the idea that media help to shape (but do not determine) our subjectivities, a number of thinkers associated with theories of the non-human, the posthuman and the postanthropocentric are striving to develop this idea still further. Put very briefly, their contention is that if the media we use today are different from those of the Gutenberg galaxy, if the material forms with which we create ideas are changing, then so must be the ideas themselves, meaning that our human subjectivity and consciousness is changing too. It is this argument that I was trying to think through at the MeCCSA-PGN 2015 conference. On the one hand, we have the transition from the Gutenberg galaxy of the print book to a new space of networked digital information and data flows, and the way in which the latter is transforming our subjectivities and sense of self, not least by means of algorithmic forms of state and corporate surveillance. And on the other hand there is the fact that one of the main ways in which even antihumanist and posthumanist theorists and philosophers are attempting to understand this shift is by writing print books and journal articles about it. The question for me is this: if we are in the process of moving to a post-Gutenberg world – if the internet is a ‘game changer’ in this respect, as some are claiming it is – to what extent can we understand this change by continuing to act as if we are still living very much in the world of Gutenberg, replete with the latter’s emphasis on the book, privacy, and the rational, liberal, individual human subject? How can we understand visual media such as photography, film, television, video, 3-D technology and augmented reality in the age of Megaupload, BitTorrent, Wikileaks, 4chan, Anonymous, and even YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp, together with their implications for our inherited ideas of the named author, the sovereign proprietorial subject, intellectual property and so on, if we insist on continually writing commercially copyrighted, linearly organised, bound and printed paper codex books and journal articles about them? 


Liberalism as a 'Way of Doing Things': Why Monkeys Should Be Able to Own Copyright

(What follows is the second part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016). The first part of the interview, 'Neoliberal Subjectivation', is available here.)

THE EDITORS: Could you say more about the relation between the two models of subjectivity: are they mutually exclusive or fundamentally the same (i.e., liberal and neoliberal)? 

I would say that the new form of self-governing, self-disciplining, self-exploitative neoliberal subjectivity we’re referring to is different from the liberal humanist subject, but it’s also the same. If liberalism is concerned with respect for individual liberty and the defence of human rights, including those of citizenship and property rights, together with the institutions that protect and preserve them (parliamentary politics, the police, the press, the law, etc.), what is really being condemned in many accounts of the becoming business of the public university is the way in which one form of liberalism is being intensified and transformed into another. Specifically, this is a neoliberal interpretation of liberalism, and of which among those liberal rights and values are most important: the unassailable rights of property and extension of the values of the free market and its metrics to all areas of life. 

(There is of course a related emphasis in neoliberalism on privatisation, on deregulation, on low taxation for the rich, on weakening the power of the trade unions, and on reducing to a minimum the role played by the state, the public sector and the welfare system it is also important to mention in the context of this interview, given it is being conducted by postgraduate students. For not only is the degree of individual risk and debt carried by the majority of people today currently being enlarged as a result of governments continuing to pursue such neoliberal policies, it is being extended into the future. In the UK the latter is happening most notably in the form of the student debt created by the introduction and subsequent tripling of tuition fees. If the latest estimates are to be believed, many of today’s undergraduates will owe around £50,000 pounds by the time they graduate.)

Together with the failure to denaturalise and destabilise the liberal humanist model of academic subjectivity – to confront and rigorously think through our notions of individualism, human rights, property and so on (even though we understand that theory’s questioning of liberalism often involves questioning the human and human rights too) – this difference of intensity as much as of kind is arguably one of the reasons it’s been relatively easy for the commodifying, measuring logic of neoliberalism to control  our ways of acting and working as media, cultural and communication studies scholars. This logic is not so much going against the liberal values many of us continue to adhere to, as intensifying certain aspects of them. It’s an intensification and transformation of the very liberal humanism many of us are in fact anxious to retain. Consequently, even when we’re making a determined effort to resist or elude the processes of neoliberal subjectivation, we’re doing so much of the time by behaving as if we are autonomous, rational, self-identical and self-present, individual, liberal humanist subjects – which means it’s not that difficult for the forces of what we’re calling neoliberalism to control and repurpose such actions on our part. 

In saying this I’m aware those endeavouring to counter neoliberal subjectivation hold a range of political views and positions: Marxist, post-Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic and so forth. I’m also mindful of the fact that liberalism is a philosophy of many strands and varieties, some of which have indeed provided a means of opposing neoliberalism on occasion, and continue to do so. Still further, I’m conscious that, although they may share many things in common, liberalism and neoliberalism are not the same. Nor indeed is neoliberalism the perfect projection of a political desire: it’s no more free of contradiction and ambiguity than capitalism itself.  If we return to Foucault, however, we find him arguing in The Birth of Biopolitics that ‘liberalism’ should be analysed, ‘not as a theory or an ideology… but as a practice, that is to say, a “way of doing things”’.  When it is brought to bear on our own ways of doing things, this insistence on the importance of analysing liberalism as a practice can help us to understand something important, I think. For while many of us espouse explicitly anti-liberal and anti-neoliberal theories and philosophies in the content of our work – be they inspired by Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour or Karen Barad – we are liberals nonetheless by virtue of how we live, act and think in the world. Regardless of what theories and philosophies we profess, in our practice – in the forms our work takes, in the ways we create, publish and disseminate it, in our associated upholding of notions of individualism, individual rights, property and so on – we continue to act primarily according to a liberal humanist model of what it is to be and do as an academic. Put crudely, it’s a model that forecloses an appreciation of the processual and relational nature of identity – of the human’s co-constitutive psychological, social and biological relation not just to other humans, but to animals, technology and the environment as well as a whole host of other non-humans, objects, non-objects and non-anthropomorphic elements and energies – and instead presents the work of a writer or theorist as the original creation of an individualised, proprietorial human subject.  (For example, animals cannot own copyright, as we know from the recent case of the macaque monkey who took a famous ‘selfie’ photograph of itself.) 

One of the things I’m therefore endevouring to do in some of my work is experiment with different ways of acting, working, thinking and living as a critical media theorist. In this respect, my research is not so much concerned with coming up with a new theory or philosophy, something to rival new materialism, posthumanism or accelerationism, say, which of course is what theory traditionally tries to do. Instead, I’m interested in exploring different ways of being, different ways of doing things as a theorist.



Neoliberal Subjectivation

(What follows is the first part of an interview, 'Just Because You Write about Posthumanism Doesn’t Mean You Aren’t a Liberal Humanist: An Interview with Gary Hall' by Francien Broekhuizen, Simon Dawes, Danai Mikelli and Poppy Wilde. It is published in the MeCCSA-PGN Conference 2015 issue of Networking Knowledge, Vol 9, No 1 (2016).)


THE EDITORS: You argue that most media scholars focus on the neoliberal subjects we are transforming into, rather than the liberal humanists we are transforming from. Could you explain the extent to which the former model continues to hold sway today?


GARY HALL: I’m currently examining processes of neoliberal subjectivation as they relate to post-welfare capitalism and the sharing economy – transformations I’m analysing in terms of what I call ubercapitalism. But these processes of self-formation also affect students and scholars in media, communication and cultural studies. 


One of the means by which such neoliberal academic subjectivation occurs is metricisation. As a result of the increasing marketisation and managerialisation of higher education, those of us who work or study in the university are being exposed to various forms of auditing, various quantification practices, various techniques and pressures to do with self-presentation, self-promotion and self-marketing, many of which have their origins in the cultures of management consultancy and Silicon Valley.  This in turn has led large numbers of us to join for-profit academic social networks (e.g.,, ResearchGate), and act like micro-celebrities. We blog, tweet and post about our work and about even our lives – about what we like, about what’s happening with us – in order to establish ourselves and our individual authorial personalities as brands.  Now a number of media, communication and cultural studies scholars have written very powerfully about the stress, the depression, the exhaustion, the anxiety all the monitoring and measuring of our teaching loads, research outputs, grant income, citations, page view counts, download counts and so on is creating. And I’m interested in that too. But I’m also interested in what often gets left out of this picture: the subject position that is being adopted when we write and speak about the neoliberal transformation of higher education. It’s a subject position that is, in effect, held up as some kind of solution, or at least preferable option, to the shift toward the entrepreneurial culture and quantified academic of neoliberalism almost by default.

To come at it from a slightly different angle: as critical media theorists many of us are only too aware that new media technologies – software, code, data and the related means of algorithmic measurement and classification and so on – are involved in shaping our subjectivities and consciousness, our sense of self. Not enough attention is currently being paid, however, to the ways in which those media technologies that still play an extremely large role in structuring and arranging how we work as theorists, namely print-on-paper books and journal articles, are also involved in the formation of our subjectivities.  So, yes, in my research I’m concerned with the new, voluntarily self-governing, self-disciplining and self-exploitative neoliberal subjects we are becoming. But I'm also concerned with the particular configuration of academic subjectivity and the related media technologies we are moving and transforming from on this account.

This is why I began my lecture at the MeCCSA-PGN 2015 Conference in Coventry by referring to Michel Foucault’s 1980 interview with Le Monde, ‘The Masked Philosopher’. In particular I wanted to draw attention to Foucault’s remark in this interview that ‘books, universities, learned journals are also information media’. The reason I wanted to do so was to emphasise it’s not just radio, cinema, television, newspapers, magazines and the internet that are media technologies: so are the books and journal articles we write, and the institutions we work and study in. They are instances of media every bit as much as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and they also help to configure us as subjects. For me, this is something that’s too often overlooked by media scholars when we think about neoliberalism, marketisation, or how we’re being constantly monitored, measured, audited and assessed. 

Why is it so important to pay attention to the configuration of academic subjectivity we are transforming from? It’s important because it’s often very much a liberal humanist subjectivity; one that has occupied (at least until recently, and still does in many respects) a position of hegemonic dominance within the profession. It is this liberal humanist model of academic selfhood – especially as it is enacted in our inherited ideas of individual proprietorial authorship, originality, copyright, the fixed and finished object, the proper noun or name – that continues to shape our work as media, communication and cultural studies students and scholars, and that many of us still adopt as a basis for engaging critically with the forces of neoliberalism. Hence we continue to write long-form, sequential books and journal articles that we insist are treated as our individually authored intellectual property, and that we then proceed to publish in uniform, multiple-copy editions, under an all rights reserved or, at best, Creative Commons, copyright licence. Moreover, it is a model of academic subjectivity that comes with a related privileging of the values of academic freedom, of fundamental as opposed to applied research, of individualised rather than mass teaching (detectable behind a lot of the concern over the development of xMOOCs), and of the relatively autonomous public university whose primary function is education rather than the generation of financial profit.  

I’m moving very quickly, but for me there’s a real danger in this of us of going along too readily with liberalism’s own belief that, with its notions of individual liberty, citizenship and human rights, it can speak on behalf of humanity. What is the danger here? Well, to paint it in the broadest possible strokes, it is this belief that has given ‘liberalism’ the right, the duty in fact, to impose its philosophy onto the rest of the world, leading to the ‘civilising’ missions of colonialism, economic imperialism, and capitalist neoliberal globalisation, whereby liberal norms and values are universalized and extended to the sphere of international relations, to the concealment of the mechanisms by which those who do not adhere to such ideas are excluded. From this point of view, to oppose liberal humanism is not to oppose a particular philosophy; it’s to oppose human rights and liberty,  indeed humanity and the human, per se. 


Videos from the 'Why Are We Not Boycotting' symposium now available

In view of the current discussion taking place over’s introduction of an ‘article recommendation charge’, and the subsequent #DeleteAcademiaEdu hashtag (, this latest announcement from the Centre for Disruptive Media ( at Coventry University might be interested :

Last month we organised a symposium on academic social networking platforms called Why Are We Not Boycotting Chaired by Janneke Adema (Coventry University, UK) the event featured Pascal Aventurier (INRA, France), Kathleen Fitzpatrick (MLA/Coventry University, US), Gary Hall (Coventry University, UK), and David Parry (Saint Joseph University, US) as speakers.

The videos from this symposium are now available online at:


The event addressed the following questions:

  • Why have researchers been so ready to campaign against for-profit academic publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis/Informa, but not against for-profit platforms such as ResearchGate and Google Scholar?
  • Should academics refrain from providing free labour for these publishing companies too?
  • Are there non-profit alternatives to such commercial platforms academics should support instead?
  • Could they take inspiration from the editors of Lingua (now Glossa) and start their own scholar-owned and controlled platform cooperatives for the sharing of research?
  • Or are such ‘technologies of the self’ or ‘political technologies of individuals’, as we might call them following Michel Foucault, merely part of a wider process by which academics are being transformed into connected individuals who endeavour to generate social, public and professional value by acting as microentrepreneurs of their own selves and lives?

For more on this symposium see:

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