(edited by) by Simone Natale, Diana Pasulka – Believing in Bits: Digital Media and the Supernatural


Oxford University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0190949990, English, 264 pages, 2019, UK

It’s been more than two decades since Erik Davis’ Techgnosis kindled a collective interest in the mystical impulses underpinning the rise of information technologies. Believing in Bits reconvenes some of the more interesting threads that have developed over time within this domain. From the transcendental qualities we sometimes attribute to digital technologies in different embodiments, to the beliefs consolidated at various levels over small or large pockets of the Internet, the instinct to associate allegedly autonomous mechanisms with a spiritual nature seems more present than ever. This important anthology uses an informed media archeological approach to address the specificity of the current inextricable link between religious beliefs/practices and digital media. It is revealing, for example, how we the greater the lack of technical knowledge about how our devices and software works the greater our faith in their functionality. The oracle role of Google the strong religious rhetoric associated with aspects of the digital revolution up to the ‘algorithmic imaginary’ (Bucher) and the ungraspable complexity of AI are explored. The selected authors come from heterogeneous backgrounds, covering an ample and very interesting spectrum of topics, giving this book a remarkable scope and quality.