A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism: a short podcast from Pip Thornton

I started work as the research assistant on the Algocracy and Transhumanism project in September, and John has invited me to record a short podcast about some of my own PhD research on Language in the Age of Algorithmic Reproduction. You download the podcast here or listen below.

bog-eyeThe podcast relates to a project called {poem}.py, which is explained in greater detail here on my blog. The project involves making visible the workings of linguistic capitalism by printing out receipts for poetry which has been passed through Google’s advertising platform AdWords.


I have presented the project twice now – each time asking fellow presenters for their favourite poem or lyric which I can then process through the Keyword planner and print out on a receipt printer for them to take home. I often get asked what is the most expensive poem, and of course it depends on the length, but the winner so far is The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot, which was requested by David Gunkel at the Algorithmic Brains to Algorithmic States workshop in September, and which came in at £1738.57 and several metres.

In the podcast I use 3 clips – an excerpt from The Wasteland, a performance poem by Jemima Foxtrot, and the introduction to  Billy Bragg’s Between the Wars – and think about how the words contained in each piece might fare in the linguistic marketplace. You can watch Jemima’s performance in full below.

I also want to give a proper airing to Rita Ann Higgins’ poem Our Killer City, which I reference in the podcast, but play an ‘alternative’ version of. You can watch Rita reciting her poem below.

One thought on “A Critique of Linguistic Capitalism: a short podcast from Pip Thornton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s