Kathleen P.J. Brennan

PhD

Kathleen received her PhD from the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  She is now a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Interdisciplinary Studies at SUNY Polytechnic Institute.  Her research stems from the intersection of political theory, media studies, popular culture, and international relations, with a focus on the ways in which the interactions of online and offline worlds impact events and individuals.  Her dissertation examined online and offline worlds as horizontal spaces separated by porous borders.  Both her doctoral and postdoctoral work focuses on digital nonhuman actors like memes, hashtags, and algorithms.

Her research takes advantage of a wide variety of texts: science fiction novels, short stories, Medieval Welsh tales (in the original Welsh and in translation), blogs, web forums, and traditional philosophical and theoretical pieces. These texts all grapple with the porosity of multiple, overlapping worlds, and so allow her to theorize the ways in which issues not only become viral online, but are also affective offline. 

 

Digital Nonhuman Actors: Hashtags, Memes, and Bots in the work of Michel Serres and William Gibson

 

 
 

 
 Figure 2: Evolution of the hashtag

Figure 2: Evolution of the hashtag

 

 
 Figure 3: Hashtag as Weaver

Figure 3: Hashtag as Weaver

The image of the weaver arises at this point: to link, to tie, to open bridges, pathways, wells, or relays among radically different spaces; to say (dire) what takes place between them; to inter-dict (inter-dire). The category of between is fundamental in topology and for our purposes here: to interdict in the rupture and cracks between varieties completely enclosed upon themselves
— Serres, 45
 

 
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[T]he Weaver who works locally to join two worlds that are separated.... He untangles, interlaces, twists, assembles, passes above and below, rejoins the rational, the irrational, namely, the speakable and the unspeakable, communication and the incommunicable.
— Serres, 52
 

Coldiron and Matryoshka, as your people are calling it, are racing for ownership of your world. Competing tides of sub second financial events. We are not winning. We are not losing, by that much, but we are not winning. Lev is employing a brilliant but makeshift apparatus on Coldiron’s behalf. Matryoshka, which exists in order to kill you, and for no other reason, appears to be employing some more powerful state financial apparatus, here. I need to stop that, in order to enable Coldiron’s dominance, which may then enable the prevention of Gonzales’s assassination. But the politics here are such that I’m unable to do that without first having proof, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, of who murdered Aelita. I can’t begin to explain how power works, here, but someone powerful must have an interest in Matryoshka. Invariably, they will have stepped on someone else’s toes, or stand to. I can leverage that, offer that party a fulcrum with which to crush them. But in order for any of that to happen, you and Netherton must succeed at Daedra’s event.
— The Peripheral, p. 430
 

 
My body (I cannot help it) is not plunged into a single, specified space. It works in Euclidean space, but it only works there. It sees in a projective space; it touches, caresses, and feels in a topological space; it suffers in another; hears and communicates in a third….My body, therefore, it not plunged into a single space, but into the difficult intersection of this numerous family, into the set of connections and junctions to be established between these varieties. This is not simply a given or is not always already there, as the saying goes. This intersection, these junctions, always need to be constructed….My body lives in as many spaces as the society, the group, or the collectivity have formed…
— Serres, 44-45
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