Twittering Machine

240 pages

English language

Published Nov. 12, 2019 by Indigo Press.

Copied ISBN!

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (1 review)

In surrealist artist Paul Klee’s The Twittering Machine, the bird-song of a diabolical machine acts as bait to lure humankind into a pit of damnation. Leading political writer and broadcaster Richard Seymour, author of Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics argues that this is a chilling metaphor for our relationship with social media.

Former social media executives tell us that the system is an addiction-machine. We are users, waiting for our next hit as we like, comment and share. We write to the machine as individuals, but it responds by aggregating our fantasies, desires and frailties into data, and returning them to us as a commodity experience.

Through journalism, psychoanalytic reflection and insights from users, developers, security experts and others, Seymour probes the human side of the machine, asking what we’re getting out of it, and what we’re getting into.

2 editions

Review of 'The Twittering Machine' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Richard Seymour should be most at home in the political economy side of this thing, but it was actually the existential and more speculative parts where his voice shined for me. The chapter on addiction was a kind of literary near-death experience, meaning both terrifying but also enlivening (making me want to do something about the addiction to spend "time on screen", and as the book convincingly shows, most of us by now are addicts). There's something of a bibliographic tone to the book, that some might find distracting. That is, it constantly references other authors, a bit how journalists write and it does make it seem less sincere at times. Ironically, as "more material" to plow through, scavenge for points, turn into productive writing and spit out a new commodity. Books like that tend to get forgotten very fast. I hope this one doesn't and do get a life …


  • Sociology