I’m an Assistant Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at NYU (CV). My work email address is fb42 at nyu dot edu — send anything personal or confidential to f at finnb dot net, using my public key to encrypt (or join me at keybase.io/finnb).

Right now, I’m finishing a book with Helen Nissenbaum about obfuscation, researching a book about cryptocurrencies and digital money, and working on articles about computing and heat, counterfeiting, procedural gaming, and timezones.

Aside from work: here’s a gif of me talking, made by my sister Tess who makes brilliant comics. I like desert camping, doom metal, the red-tailed hawks that live in Washington Square Park, Arch Linux, sitting down to write every morning, and many other things.



Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT Press, 2013). Winner of the 2013 PROSE Award in Computing & Information Sciences

Obfuscation: A User’s Guide (MIT Press, forthcoming 2015), co-authored with Helen Nissenbaum.

Articles and Chapters

The Bitcoin Protocol as a Technology: Long-Term Promises and Pitfalls. In Technology: Impacts, Challenges and the Future, The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. ECSSR (Abu Dhabi), forthcoming 2015

Heat Exchanges. The MoneyLab Reader, forthcoming 2015

The Hidden Variable Artforum, November 2014

Culture Digitally: Spam, and the Challenge of Chasing Shadows. With Kevin Driscoll and Tarleton Gillespie. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 58(4), 2014, p. 687-697. (Also published in Culture Digitally, January 7, 2014)

Scholarrrh interview! avec Finn Brunton Tracés: Revue de Sciences Humaines, June 25, 2014

Stanislaw Lem: Summa Technologiae (Review.) Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, May 2014

Une histoire du spam Le Monde Diplomatique (also in English and other languages — including Esperanto!), March 2014

More Problems More Money Artforum, February 2014

Kleptography Radical Philosophy 183, Jan/Feb 2014. Reprinted in The Guardian, January 7, 2014

Closer to the Metal. With Gabriella Coleman. In Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, ed. Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo Boczkowski, Kirsten Foot. MIT Press, 2014

Insecurity Systems Artforum, October 2013

Political and Ethical Perspectives on Data Obfuscation. With Helen Nissenbaum. In Privacy, Due Process and the Computational Turn: The Philosophy of Law Meets the Philosophy of Technology, ed. Mireille Hildebrandt, Katja De Vries. Routledge, 2013

The Long, Weird History of the Nigerian E-Mail Scam The Boston Globe, May 19, 2013.

Chris Marker, 1921-2012: Future Anterior Radical Philosophy 176, Nov/Dec 2012

The Walled City: “Cannot One Dream of a Computer Hypothesis?” Radical Philosophy 175, Sept/Oct 2012

Constitutive Interference: Spam and Networked Communities Representations 117, Winter 2012

Vernacular Resistance to Data Collection and Analysis: A Political Theory of Obfuscation With Helen Nissenbaum. First Monday vol 16, no 5

Keyspace: Reflections on WikiLeaks and the Assange Papers Radical Philosophy 166, Mar/Apr 2011

After WikiLeaks, Us The New Everyday, April 4, 2011

“Roar So Wildly”: Spam, Language, Technology Radical Philosophy 164, Nov/Dec 2010

Manners of Unfolding With Processing artists and Prof. Laura Marks. Companion site for Enfoldment and Infinity (MIT, 2010)

Barricade/Labyrinth: Ten Years of Read/Writing Walter Benjamin Personal project, 2010


“Shattered Illuminations: Revisiting The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction” and “The Politics of Memory at the End of Time/The Legacy of Walter Benjamin.” (Panels.) Haunted Reflections: Walter Benjamin in San Francisco, November 8 2014

Making Money: Cryptocurrencies, Technologies of Trust, and a Decentralized Future. Center for the Arts in Society, Carnegie Mellon University, October 27 2014

“I Hope in Ten Years Bitcoin is Really Boring”. Money As Communication, USC, October 10-12

Scams, Schemes, Cons, and Cryptocurrencies. Digital Cash!, UCLA, September 27-28

Interstitial: Angles of Incidence. Lines & Nodes, NYU, September 19 2014

Hacking Money, from Alexander the Great to Zerocoin. HOPE X, July 19 2014

Taking Only the Weapons. Explorers & Pirates, European University of St. Petersburg, June 18 2014

Entretien avec Finn Brunton, auteur de «Spam» Place de la Toile, FranceCulture, May 31 2014

Getting Credit: Understanding Cryptocurrencies. Digital Studies Colloquium, University of Michigan, April 3 2014

The Bitcoin Protocol as a Technology: Long-Term Promises and Pitfalls. The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Abu Dhabi, March 18 2014

Unraveling competing theories about the Malaysian Airlines mystery 89.3 KPCC, March 13, 2014

The Big Heat: The Materiality of Money and Computational Work. Media, Materiality, Infrastructure Workshop, NYU, March 7, 2014

Data Shadows: Anonymity and Digital Networks (Panel.) apexart, February 27, 2014

Security Threads and Blockchains: Understanding Monetary Security, On and Offline. NYU Security Research Seminar, February 18, 2014

The Murky Past of the Letter Scam ABC Canberra, January 22, 2014

Artifacts (part 2) Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything (podcast), January 17, 2014

Sorting the Digital Humanities Out. (Workshop.) HUMLab, Umeå University, Sweden, December 2013

Embedding Values in UAS Design. (Workshop.) Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC) at New York University, October 12 2013

Privacy and Security Policy in the Present Eyebeam Art+Technology Center, October 4, 2013

Always Already Obsolete: Considering the convergence of analogue and digital media (Panel.) The New Museum, September 7, 2013

As Spam Goes The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, July 15, 2013

Creativity & Mayhem: Anonymous Communities at Work With Gabriella Coleman and Quinn Norton. South by Southwest Interactive, March 9 2013

Four Remarks on Spam for Transmediale. Transmediale, Berlin, February 1 2013

Thinking of Everything: Algorithmic Gaming and Thick Simulation. Intel Science and Technology Center, Cornell, November 19 2012

Concentrate Upon the Effect: Notes Towards a History of Radical Media. A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in Its Time and Ours, University of Michigan, September 20 2012

Avenge Me: Anonymity, Publicity and Punishment on 4chan. Canadian Communications Association, University of Waterloo, May 30, 2012

The Nonhumanities: Writing with Crowds and Algorithms. Institute for the Humanities 2012 Spring Seminar, University of Michigan, May 5 2012

The Metallurgical Machine: Exploring the Microchip with Dwarf Fortress. Gaming the Game, UC Davis, April 12 2012

All Tomorrow’s Pirates: Foucault, Gibson, and the Walled City Radical Philosophy Conference, Columbia University, October 21 2011

Velocity/Growth: Essays and Experiments in the Digital Humanities Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, October 4 2011

Dead Media: What the Obsolete, Unsuccessful, Experimental, and Avant-Garde Can Teach Us About the Future of Media USENIX ATC 2011 and Webapps plenary session, Portland OR, June 16 2011

The Politics of User-Generated Content With danah boyd, Mizuko Ito, Andres Monroy-Hernandez, and Jonathan McIntosh. Digital Media and Learning 2011, Long Beach CA, March 3-6

Cryptography, Auditing, Perturbation, Obfuscation. Computers, Privacy and Data Protection, Brussels, Belgium, January 25-27, 2011

Secret Languages: Privacy, Ownership and Federated Social Networks. Privacy Research Group, New York University, October 6, 2010

Vernacular Resistance to Data Collection and Surveillance: A Political Theory of Obfuscation. EASST 2010, Trento, Italy, September 2-4 2010

An Infinite Continuum of Spewage: Bayesian filtering and the reinvention of spam. International Symposium on Electronic Art, Ruhr, Germany, August 20-29, 2010

A User’s Guide to Lulzy Media, the Pleasure of Trickery, and the Politics of Spectacle: from Luddites to Anonymous With Prof. Gabriella Coleman. Hackers On Planet Earth, New York City, July 17, 2010

The Unbook Computers and Writing Conference, Purdue University, May 20-23, 2010

The Pleasure of Spam: Metagaming and Misuse in Early Computer Culture. Cultural Studies Association, UC Berkeley, March 18-20, 2010

Creating and violating anonymity in online communities: the case of 4chan, Anon, and Dusty the Cat Privacy Research Group, New York University, February 24, 2010


My office hours are 14:00-15:30, Thursday.

NYU MCC-GE 3150-001 — Special Topics in Technology Studies: Walter Benjamin and His Milieu (Fall 2014)

NYU MCC-UE 3-001 — History of Media & Communication (Fall 2014)

NYU MCC-UE 1406–001 — Hacker Culture & Politics (Spring 2014)

NYU MCC-GE 2129–001 — New Media Research Studio: Rethinking Reading (Spring 2014)

NYU MCC-UE 1200-06 — Ways of Being Free: Media, Ownership, and Creative Work Online (Fall 2013)

UM SI/UC 110 — Introduction to Information Studies (Winter/Spring 2013)

UM SI 535 — Dead Media: Preserving Culture & Context (Winter/Spring 2013)

UM SI/UC 110 — Introduction to Information Studies (Fall 2012)

NYU MCC 1021-001 — Dead Media Research Studio (Fall 2010)

NYU MCC E59 1003-001 — Introduction to Digital Media (Spring 2010)

University of Aberdeen — Digital Humanities: Contexts and Platforms (Co-taught with Dr. Kriss Ravetto.) (Fall 2008)