Neal Thomas

Future Collectivity and the Graph Relation

Date: October 13, 2017

Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Room: Wells Library, Rm LI 030


At the heart of computer science lies an important representational abstraction from discrete mathematics – the graph. Most often we encounter graphs as visualizations, as when a social scientist presents research on high school friendship networks, or when a business relies on flowcharts for decision-making. Less well understood though is that today’s ubiquitous data structures and algorithms rely on graphs for ordering purposes, too. As a provocation for critical dialogue around this ordering power, in his talk, Dr. Thomas will claim that graphs effectively represent nothing less than a relational basis for our future belonging-together.



Neal Thomas is an assistant professor of Media and Technology Studies in the Department of Communication Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. His work focuses on the under- lying algorithmic and ‘protocological’ techniques of social computing, especially on their cultural and material-semiotic capacities to produce order and expectations of rationality. With interests at the intersection of social computing and social theory, Neal’s research more generally explores the user as the phenomenological and ideological subject. His first book, Becoming-Social in a Networked Age, is due out with Routledge by the end of the year.