INC Readers

The The INC Reader series of the Institute of Network Cultures was developed in 2005, a year after the founding of the institute and its website. The first one, from late 2005, not yet marked as #1, came out with a CD-ROM that contained the videos of the two-day event in June 2005 at the Post-CS building in Amsterdam. The Incommunicado conference was a global critical investigation of the ICT4D agenda of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2003. After this initial publication more or less every year a INC reader was produced as the INC flagship publication.

The premise of the INC, reader is one of a fast production of critical knowledge of emerging issues in global techno-culture, distributed widely, for free. INC reader are often, but not always, connected to the existing INC research networks and related conferences, held in Amsterdam and elsewhere. Sometimes the event and the network would cater for the entire content, in other cases there would be an additional call for materials. The idea of the readers was to have an alternative to academic journals and their (anonymous) peer review system. The readers are edited, designed and printed within a year and then distributed via pdf, e-pub and printed (1000-2000 copies) for free distribution, worldwide, mainly to be used in classes. Two or three bookstores are selling the readers (in Amsterdam, Berlin and New York). Only the first VideoVortex reader has had a second print run. Most readers are available on the print-on-demand service Lulu.

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 16 of 16
  • Miscellany
    MoneyLab Reader 2. Overcoming the Hype
    Gloerich, Inte; Lovink, Geert; de Vries, Patrick (2018)
    MoneyLab is a network of artists, activists, and geeks experimenting with forms of financial democratization. Entering the 10th year of the global financial crisis, it still remains a difficult yet crucial task to distinguish old wine from its fancy new bottles. The MoneyLab network questions persistent beliefs, from Calvinist austerity, growth, and up-scaling, to trustless, automated decision making and (anarcho-)capitalist dreams of cybercurrencies and blockchained solutionism. We consider experiments with digital coops, internet-based payment and network-based revenue models as spaces of political imagination, with an equally important aesthetic program. In this second MoneyLab Reader the network delves into topics like the financialization of art; love as a binary proposition on the blockchain; the crowdfunding of livelihood; the cashless society; financial surveillance of the poor; universal basic income as the real McCoy or a real sham; the cooperative answer to Airbnb and Uber; the history of your financial dashboard; and, Hollywood’s narration of the financial crisis. Fintech rushes through our veins, causing a whirlwind of critical concepts, ideas and imaginaries. Welcome to the eye of the storm.
  • Miscellany
    Video Vortex Reader II. Moving Images Beyond YouTube
    Lovink, Geert; Somers Miles, Rachel (2011)
    Video Vortex Reader II is the Institute of Network Cultures’ second collection of texts that critically explore the rapidly changing landscape of online video and its use. With the success of YouTube (‘2 billion views per day’) and the rise of other online video sharing platforms, the moving image has become expansively more popular on the Web, significantly contributing to the culture and ecology of the internet and our everyday lives. In response, the Video Vortex project continues to examine critical issues that are emerging around the production and distribution of online video content. Following the success of the mailing list, the website and first Video Vortex Reader in 2008, recent Video Vortex conferences in Ankara (October 2008), Split (May 2009) and Brussels (November 2009) have sparked a number of new insights, debates and conversations regarding the politics, aesthetics, and artistic possibilities of online video. Through contributions from scholars, artists, activists and many more, Video Vortex Reader II asks what is occurring within and beyond the bounds of Google’s YouTube? How are the possibilities of online video, from the accessibility of reusable content to the internet as a distribution channel, being distinctly shaped by the increasing diversity of users taking part in creating and sharing moving images over the web?
  • Miscellany
    Critical Meme Reader II. Memetic Tacticality
    Arkenbout, Chloë; Scherz, Laurence (2022)
    The (political) power of memes has moved beyond virtual images. The distinction between the virtual and ‘real life’ no longer applies, or perhaps was never really there. Their effects (or should we say affects?) are moving through digital infrastructures, policy, regulations and bodies. If memes are used as a tool by the alt-right to mobilize people to storm the Capitol and play a substantial role in the Ukrainian war, can they also be used by the left to spark a revolution, as memetic warfare is more immediate and accessible than real-life demonstrations? What kind of labor would that require? What kind of tools and principles would we need? And what if memetic logics of spreading information were applied to spread progressive ideas for a possible future?
  • Miscellany
    Let’s Get Physical. A Sample of INC Longforms, 2015-2020
    Rasch, Miriam (2020)
    Let’s Get Physical: A Sample of INC Longforms, 2015-2020 marks the five year anniversary of the INC Longform series. Based on research both theoretical and practice-based, INC Longforms showcase original projects, reflections, and critique. The essays in this collection invite the reader to look ahead while finding firm ground in the recent past. What topics are rising on the agenda of internet, media, and technology research? Which themes deserve our (ongoing) scrutiny and what are urgent reconfigurations of discourse? The thirteen contributions presented here take well-known issues in internet criticism one step further and address new subjects that call for attention. Divided into four sections, the authors cover the changing emotional attachments between humans and machines (‘Affects & Interventions’), rethink questions of labor and economic divisions (‘Class Lines’), dive into visual culture and its political influences (‘Meme Politics’), and ask how software and technology play their role in neo-cybernetic forms of bio- and necropolitics (‘Architectures of Control’).
  • Miscellany
    MyCreativity Reader. A Critique of Creative Industries
    Lovink, Geert; Rossiter, Ned (2007)
    The MyCreativity Reader is a collection of critical research into the creative industries. The material develops out of the MyCreativity Convention on International Creative Industries Research held in Amsterdam, November 2006. This two-day conference sought to bring the trends and tendencies around the creative industries into critical question. The ‘creative industries’ concept was initiated by the UK Blair government in 1997 to revitalise de-industrialised urban zones. Gathering momentum after being celebrated in Richard Florida’s best-seller The Creative Class (2002), the concept mobilised around the world as the zeitgeist of creative entrepreneurs and policy-makers. Despite the euphoria surrounding the creative industries, there has been very little critical research that pays attention to local and national variations, working conditions, the impact of restrictive intellectual property regimes and questions of economic sustainability. The reader presents academic research alongside activist reports that aim to dismantle the buzz-machine.
  • Miscellany
    Critical Meme Reader. Global Mutations of the Viral Image
    Arkenbout, Chloë; Wilson, Jack; de Zeeuw, Daniel (2021)
    Beyond the so-called ‘Alt-right’ and its attendant milieus on 4chan and Reddit, memes have passed the post-digital threshold and entered new theoretical, practical, and geographical territories beyond the stereotypical young, white, male, western subject. As they metastasized from the digital periphery to the mainstream, memes have seethed with mutant energy. From now on, any historical event will be haunted by its memetic double. Our responses to memes in the new decade demand an analogous virtuality. This Critical Meme Reader features an array of researchers, activists, and artists who address the following questions. What is the current state of the meme producer? What are the semiotics of memes? How are memes involved in platform capitalism and how do they operate within the context of different mediascapes? How are memes used for political counter-strategies? Are memes moving beyond the image? How can memes be used to design the future? Will there ever be a last meme in history? Together, the contributors to this reader combine their global perspectives on meme culture to discuss memetic subjectivities and communities, the work of art in the age of memetic production, the post meme, meme warfare, and meme magic – varying from reflections on real-life experiences to meta meme theory.
  • Miscellany
    Unlike Us Reader. Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives
    Lovink, Geert; Rasch, Miriam (2013)
    The Unlike Us Reader offers a critical examination of social media, bringing together theoretical essays, personal discussions, and artistic manifestos. How can we understand the social media we use everyday, or consciously choose not to use? We know very well that monopolies control social media, but what are the alternatives? While Facebook continues to increase its user population and combines loose privacy restrictions with control over data, many researchers, programmers, and activists turn towards designing a decentralized future. Through understanding the big networks from within, be it by philosophy or art, new perspectives emerge. Unlike Us is a research network of artists, designers, scholars, activists, and programmers, with the aim to combine a critique of the dominant social media platforms with work on ‘alternatives in social media’, through workshops, conferences, online dialogues, and publications. Everyone is invited to be a part of the public discussion on how we want to shape the network architectures and the future of social networks we are using so intensely.
  • Miscellany
    Video Vortex Reader #3. Inside the YouTube Decade
    Lovink, Geert; Treske, Andreas (2020)
    What is online video today, fifteen years into its exponential growth? What started with amateur work of YouTube prosumers has spread to virtually all communication apps: an explosion in the culture of mobile sound and vision. Now, in the age of the smart phone, video accompanies, informs, moves, and distracts us. Are you addicted yet? Look into that tiny camera, talk, move the phone, show us around — prove to others that you exist! Founded in 2007, Video Vortex is a lively network of artists, activists, coders, curators, critics, and researchers linked by the exchange of ideas, materials, and discussions both online and offline. Video Vortex has produced two an- thologies, a website, a mailing list, 12 international conferences, several art exhibitions, and more to come as the internet and video continue to merge and miniaturize. The first Video Vortex reader came out in 2008, followed by a second in 2011. This third anthology covers the turbulent period from Video Vortex #7 (2013) in Yogyakarta, across the meetings that followed in Zagreb, Lüneburg, Istanbul, Kochi, and finally Malta in 2019, where the foundations for this publication where laid before its production began in the midst of the corona crisis. The contributions herein respond to a broad range of emerging and urgent topics, from bias in YouTube’s algorithms, to the use of video in messaging, image theory, the rise of deepfakes, a reconsideration of the history of video art, a reflection on the continuing role and influence of music video, indy servers, synthetic intimacies, love and sadness, artist videos, online video theory in the age of platform capitalism, video as online activism, and the rise of streaming. Click, browse, swipe, like, share, save, and enjoy!
  • Miscellany
    Urban Screens Reader
    McQuire, Scott; Martin, Meredith; Niederer, Sabine (2009)
    The Urban Screens Reader is the first book to focus entirely on the topic of urban screens. In assembling contributions from a range of leading theorists, in conjunction with a series of case studies dealing with artists’ projects and screen operators’ and curators’ experiences, the reader offers a rich resource for those interested in the intersections between digital media, cultural practices and urban space. Urban Screens have emerged as a key site in contemporary struggles over public culture and public space. They form a strategic junction in debates over the relation between technological innovation, the digital economy, and the formation of new cultural practices in contemporary cities. How should we conceptualize public participation in relation to urban screens? Are ‘the public’ citizens, consumers, producers, or something else? Where is the public located? When a screen is erected in public space, who has access to it and control over it? What are the appropriate forms of urban planning, design and governance? How do urban screens affect cultural experiences?
  • Miscellany
    MoneyLab Reader. An Intervention in Digital Economy
    Lovink, Geert; Tkacz, Nathaniel; de Vries, Patricia (2015)
    MoneyLab is part of a global movement that demands the democratization of the design of our financial futures. Audacity is essential in times of crisis. And so we must engage constructively with hackers, entrepreneurs, and other creators who take up the call for economic alternatives. One first step is a map of the present: What works and what doesn’t? What is worth pursuing and what must be left aside? Which histories bear on the present moment? And what are the limits of our economic imagination? The MoneyLab Reader brings developments in crowdfunding, currency design, technologies of payment, and other economic experiments into dialogue. The authors of this volume discuss the implications of the current architecture of global finance, its impact on ever-growing income disparity, and question money and finance as such. It is not always clear, for instance, whether genuine alternatives are unfolding or if we are simply witnessing the creative extension of neoliberalism.
  • Miscellany
    Incommunicado Reader
    Lovink, Geert; Zehle, Soenke (2005)
    The Incommunicado Reader brings together papers written for the June 2005 event, and includes a CD-ROM of interviews with speakers. The reader features: Jan Nederveen Pieterse on Digital Capitalism and Development; Roy Pullens on Migration Management (INC commissioned research); Alexandre Freire on Brasil and the FLOSS process; Solomon Benjamin on the E-Politics of Urban Land; and Maja van der Velden on Cognitive Justice.
  • Miscellany
    Society of the Query Reader. Reflections on Web Search
    König, René; Rasch, Miriam (2014)
    Looking up something online is one of the most common applications of the web. Whether with a laptop or smartphone, we search the web from wherever we are, at any given moment. ‘Googling’ has become so entwined in our daily routines that we rarely question it. However, search engines such as Google or Bing determine what part of the web we get to see, shaping our knowledge and perceptions of the world. But there is a world beyond Google – geographically, culturally, and technologically. The Society of the Query network was founded in 2009 to delve into the larger societal and cultural consequences that are triggered by search technology. In this Reader, which is published after two conferences held in Amsterdam in 2009 and 2013, twenty authors – new media scholars, historians, computer scientists, and artists – try to answer a number of pressing questions about online search. What are the foundations of web search? What ideologies and assumptions are inscribed in search engine algorithms? What solution can be formulated to deal with Google’s monopoly in the future? Are alternatives to Google even thinkable? What influence does online search have on education practices? How do artists use the abundance of data that search engines provide in their creative work? By bringing researchers together from a variety of relevant disciplines, we aim at opening up new perspectives on the Society of the Query.
  • Miscellany
    Video Vortex Reader. Responses to YouTube
    Lovink, Geert; Niederer, Sabine (2008)
    The Video Vortex Reader is the first collection of critical texts to deal with the rapidly emerging world of online video – from its explosive rise in 2005 with YouTube, to its future as a significant form of personal media. After years of talk about digital convergence and crossmedia platforms we now witness the merger of the Internet and television at a pace no-one predicted. These contributions from scholars, artists and curators evolved from the first two Video Vortex conferences in Brussels and Amsterdam in 2007 which focused on responses to YouTube, and address key issues around independent production and distribution of online video content. What does this new distribution platform mean for artists and activists? What are the alternatives?
  • Miscellany
    Critical Point of View. A Wikipedia Reader
    Lovink, Geert; Tkacz, Nathaniel (2011)
    For millions of internet users around the globe, the search for new knowledge begins with Wikipedia. The encyclopedia’s rapid rise, novel organization, and freely offered content have been marveled at and denounced by a host of commentators. Critical Point of View moves beyond unflagging praise, well-worn facts, and questions about its reliability and accuracy, to unveil the complex, messy, and controversial realities of a distributed knowledge platform. The essays, interviews and artworks brought together in this reader form part of the overarching Critical Point of View research initiative, which began with a conference in Bangalore (January 2010), followed by events in Amsterdam (March 2010) and Leipzig (September 2010). With an emphasis on theoretical reflection, cultural difference and indeed, critique, contributions to this collection ask: What values are embedded in Wikipedia’s software? On what basis are Wikipedia’s claims to neutrality made? How can Wikipedia give voice to those outside the Western tradition of Enlightenment, or even its own administrative hierarchies? Critical Point of View collects original insights on the next generation of wiki-related research, from radical artistic interventions and the significant role of bots to hidden trajectories of encyclopedic knowledge and the politics of agency and exclusion.
  • Miscellany
    The Critical Makers Reader. (Un)learning Technology
    Bogers, Loes; Chiappini, Letizia (2019)
    A decade ago many gushed at the possibilities of 3D printers and other DIY tech. Today makers are increasingly shaking off their initial blind enthusiasm to numerically control everything, rediscovering an interest in sociocultural histories and futures and waking up to the environmental and economic implications of digital machines that transform materials. An accumulation of critique has collectively registered that no tool, service, or software is good, bad, or neutral—or even free for that matter. We’ve arrived at a crossroads, where a reflective pause coincides with new critical initiatives emerging across disciplines. What was making? What is making? What could making become? And what about unmaking? The Critical Makers Reader features an array of practitioners and scholars who address these questions. Together, they tackle issues of technological making and its intersections with (un)learning, art and design, institutionalization, social critique, community organizing, collaboration, activism, urban regeneration, social inequality, and the environmental crisis.
  • Miscellany
    C’Lick Me. A Netporn Studies Reader
    Jacobs, Katrien; Janssen, Marije; Pasquinelli, Matteo (2007)
    C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader is an anthology that collects the best material from two years of debate from The Art and Politics of Netporn 2005 conference to the 2007 C’Lick Me festival. The C’Lick Me reader opens the field of ‘Internet pornology’. Based on non-conventional approaches and mixing academics, artists and activists, it reclaims a critical post-enthusiastic, post-censorship perspective on netporn, a dark field that has been dominated thus far by dodgy commerce and filtering. The C’Lick Me reader covers the rise of the netporn society from the Usenet underground to the blogosphere, analyses economic data and search engine traffic, compares sex work with the work of fantasy, disability and accessibility. The reader also expands the notion of digital desire beyond the predictable boundaries of the porn debate and depicts a broader libidinal spectrum ranging from fetish subcultures to digital alienation, from code pornography to war pornography. C’Lick Me concludes by re-contextualising queer discourse into a post-porn scenario.