FIMS Profile

Nick Dyer-Witheford

FIMS & Nursing Building Room 4045
Phone: 519-661-2111 x88502

University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5B7
Fax: 519-661-3506
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Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism

Click here to link to chapters of my book Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism (1999), which provides an analysis of information-age capitalism and the movements currently dissolving it. The text version is available from University of Illinois Press, and can be purchased from the UWO Bookstore or from on-line bookstores.

Here also are a selection of more recent writings on the topics of Species-being, Commons, and Games.


The courses I teach deal with the political economy of information-that is to say, the relations between power, wealth and information. For the MIT program, I teach an introductory course, (MIT 246) "Political Economy of Media," that examines the corporate organization of media in high capitalism, and the various public sector and social movement media alternatives to this information regime. Students can examine the trans-national interplay of these vectors in the imperial order of the world-market in my upper-level course on "Global Political Economy of Media" (MIT 320). I also teach "Work in a Wired World" (MIT 350), which looks at the changes and controversies arising from the digital transformation of the workplace and how technological change is embroiled in the ever-shifting balance of power between labour and capital. At the graduate level, I teach "Conflict and Controversy in the Virtual Library," an investigation into the social consequences of computers and networks for libraries and librarians for students taking a Masters in Library and Information Science, and also doctoral level courses on the political economy of information.

Research Interests

At present I have three main lines of research interest. The first is analysis of emergent forms of counter-power against high technology, globalized capital. In his delirious notebook, Grundrisse (1857), Karl Marx prophesied a moment when capital's development would depend not on the direct expenditure of labour power in production but rather on the mobilization of social and scientific knowledge: "general intellect." At this point, he claimed, automation and communication technologies would undermine the basis of wage labour and commodity production. Recently, Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno, and others of the autonomist Marxist tradition, including myself, have revived this as an optic for the analysis of information capitalism. We depart from Marx, however, in suggesting that the critical factor determining the fate of a post-Fordist, Gatesian regime is not the accumulation of fixed capital in machinery, but the propensities of the variable capital-the human subjects or "immaterial labour"--necessary to create, support and operate this high technology apparatus. I develop these concepts of "general intellect" and "immaterial labour," and connect them to other Marxist concepts, such as that of "species being, " to examine the historical trajectory and future possibilities of insurgencies in and alternatives to high capitalism amidst of a cyborg world of digital networks and biotechnologies. My book, Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism (Illinois University Press, 1999), is a first cut at some of these ideas.

My second line of research is an inquiry into the political economy of computer and video game industry-what I like to call "Sim Capital." I am co-authoring a book with Dr. Stephen Kline of Simon Fraser University on this topic, which will look at interactive games as a quintessential information-era commodity. It attempts a detailed examination the production, marketing and consumption of computer and video games. We argue the centrality of such communication-cantered consumer industries to post-Fordist capitalism requires a radical rethinking of traditional models of political economy-and that such a rethinking is necessary in order to expose the real dynamics behind much-debated issues such as violence in video games, the gendering of interactive gaming, the battle around piracy and intellectual, property rights in contemporary media industries, and the dynamics of consumer cynicism, perpetual innovation and market burnout inherent in the economy of commodified play.

Finally, my exposure to professional librarians and graduate students of library science in the Library and Information Science at the University of Western Ontario is now bearing fruit in terms of early research for a book tentatively entitled Cyborg Alexandria? Digital Capitalism and the Virtual Library, which will bring a political economic perspective to play on the drive to convert libraries from "books to bytes."

LIS 691 Special Topic: The Virtual Library: Conflicts and Controversies 2000 Summer , 1999 Summer LIS 692 Special Topic: The Information Age: Utopia or Catastrophe? 1997 Fall LIS 767 Advanced MLIS Elective: Political Economy of Information 2005 Winter , 2003 Winter , 2002 Winter LIS 865 Ownership and Control of Information 1998 Fall LIS 867 Political Economy of Information 2005 Winter , 2003 Winter , 2002 Winter , 2000 Summer MIT 1020 Introduction to Media, Information and Technoculture 2018 Winter (2 sections) , 2017 Fall (2 sections) , 2016 Fall (2 sections) , 2015 Fall (2 sections) MIT 1700 FYI: Information & Its Contexts 2013 Winter MIT 2100 Political Economy of Media 2022 Fall , 2021 Fall (2 sections) , 2020 Fall , 2020 Winter , 2018 Winter , 2016 Winter MIT 289 Social Movements and Media 2006 Fall MIT 3011 Directed Readings in MIT 2020 Fall MIT 3130 The New Political Economy of Information: Networked Capitalism 2021 Winter , 2019 Fall MIT 348 Video & Computer Games: Culture, Technology, Markets 2006 Fall , 2005 Fall , 2005 Winter MIT 351 The New Political Economy of Information: Networked Capitalism 2007 Winter , 2004 Fall MIT 390 Social Movements & Communicative Practice 2006 Winter , 2004 Fall MIT 490 Media in the Public Interest Practicum 2006 Winter MS 721 Games of Empire 2007 Winter MS 9326 Special Topic: Network Collapse 2022 Winter , 2021 Winter MS 9601 PhD Interdisciplinary Foundations of Media Theory 2024 Winter , 2022 Fall , 2021 Fall , 2020 Fall

Diab, Ramon. The General Artificial Intellect
Phd in Library and Information Science, February 2020
Supervisors: Nick Dyer-Witheford and Pam McKenzie
Steinhoff, James. Critiquing the New Autonomy of Immaterial Labour: An Analysis of Work in the Artificial Intelligence Industry
Phd in Media Studies, November 2019
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Bertuzzi, Robert. Hone the Means of Production: Craft Antagonism and Domination in the Journalistic Labour Process of Freelance Writers
Phd in Media Studies, June 2018
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Chakraborty, Indranil. Invisible Labour: Support-Service Workers in India's Information Technology Industry
Phd in Media Studies, May 2018
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Kjosen, Atle Mikkola. Capital's Media: The Physical Conditions of Circulation
Phd in Media Studies, September 2016
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Schmalz, Michael. Limitation to Innovation in the North American Console Video Game Industry 2001-2013: A Critical Analysis
Phd in Media Studies, December 2015
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Arnott, Luke. Narrative Epic and New Media: The Totalizing Spaces of Postmodernity in The Wire, Batman, and The Legend of Zelda
Phd in Media Studies, August 2015
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Lohman, Eric. When [S]He is Working [S]He is Not at Home: Challenging Assumptions About Remote Work
Phd in Media Studies, July 2015
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Thorburn, Elise. Human-Machinic Assemblages: Technologies, Bodies, and the Recuperation of Social Reproduction in the Crisis Era
Phd in Media Studies, May 2015
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Chiang, Sam. Anonymous: Exploring Polemics and Non-Identity
Master of Arts in Media Studies, September 2013
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Svec, Henry Adam. If I Had a Hammer: An Archeology of Tactical Media From the Hootenanny to the People's Microphone
Phd in Media Studies, August 2013
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Livermore, Owen. The Academic Grind: A Critique of Creative and Collaborative Discourses Between Digital Games Industries and Post-Secondary Education in Canada
Phd in Media Studies, February 2013
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Brown, Brian. Will Work for Free: Examining the Biopolitics of Unwaged Immaterial Labour
Phd in Media Studies, July 2012
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Martin, Jenn. Keeping Up with the Virtual Joneses: The Practices, Meanings, and Consequences of Consumption in Second Life
Phd in Media Studies, March 2012
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Gerolami, Natasha. The Architecture of a Virtual Library: A Deleuzian Approach to Library and Information Studies
Phd in Library and Information Science, August 2009
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Noon, Derek Robert. Machines for Living: The Situationist International and Videogames
Master of Arts in Media Studies, August 2008
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Schmalz, Michael. The Not-So-Long Tail of Digital Play
Master of Arts in Media Studies, August 2008
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Peekhaus, Wilhelm. Canada's Biotechnology Strategy: Struggles on the Knowledge Commons
Phd in Library and Information Science, July 2008
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Cruz, Trent. Gaming the Good War: Playing World War II Video Games in the Shadow of the War on Terror
Master of Arts in Media Studies, July 2007
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Kudirka, David. Shooter: Character in Video Games
Master of Arts in Media Studies, April 2006
Supervisor: Nick Dyer-Witheford
Stevenson, Siobhan. The Post-Fordist Public Library: From Carnegie to Gates
Phd in Library and Information Science, August 2005
Supervisors: Nick Dyer-Witheford and Catherine L. Ross