In Mondo Nano Colin Milburn takes his readers on a playful expedition through the emerging landscape of nanotechnology, offering a light-hearted yet critical account of our high-tech world of fun and games. This expedition ventures into discussions of the first nanocars, the popular video games Second Life, Crysis, and BioShock, international nanosoccer tournaments, and utopian nano cities. Along the way, Milburn shows how the methods, dispositions, and goals of nanotechnology research converge with video game culture. With an emphasis on play, scientists and gamers alike are building a new world atom by atom, transforming scientific speculations and video game fantasies into reality. Milburn suggests that the closing of the gap between bits and atoms entices scientists, geeks, and gamers to dream of a completely programmable future. Welcome to the wild world of Mondo Nano.
Press Start 1
Just for Fun 7
Digital Matters 39
Tempest in a Teapot 77
Massively Multiplayer Laboratories 108
Weapons-Grade Cartoons 135
Have Nanosuit—Will Travel 173
My Little Avatar 236
Game Over—Play Again? 293
“[Mondo Nano] offers a clear demonstration of how the methods, dispositions and goals of nanotechnology often converge with video game development and culture. It works best as a broad manifesto for the role that games should have in all areas of science.… For Milburn, video games are an essential tool in the quest to further human knowledge. But they also help us navigate the “bewildering complexity of technoculture in a time of rapid globalisation”…. Milburn argues convincingly that video games let us try out different visions of the future, and better understand the present, from the nanoscale up.”—Simon Parkin, New Scientist, 6th June 2015
"Offering a compelling theory of how nano discourse pervasively structures our experience of the world, Mondo Nano firmly establishes Colin Milburn as one of the most important critics of technoculture. Exploring the conflation of labor and play across research, entertainment, and educational sites, this volume sets an agenda for studying, as he puts it, 'the ways in which our recreational pleasures are made into bankable commodities, corporate securities, and militarized appliances.' An essential read."
Sherryl Vint, author of
Science Fiction: A Guide for the Perplexed
"Mondo Nano's range is comprehensive and impressive: from nanotechnology that mimics video games to the nanotechnological bases of Second Life, from 'queering' nanotechnology video games to comic books. Colin Milburn has put his finger on an important topic and moment, creating an important merging of media and science and technology studies. There are moments of sheer brilliance here."
Wendy Chun, author of
Programmed Visions: Software and Memory
“[Mondo Nano] offers a clear demonstration of how the methods, dispositions and goals of nanotechnology often converge with video game development and culture. … Milburn argues convincingly that video games let us try out different visions of the future, and better understand the present, from the nanoscale up.”
“Milburn's profession isn't about judging the truth of nanotechnological hypotheses; it is about teasing out their technoscientific origins and effects. … Readers bearing that in mind will find Mondo Nano a thoroughly researched, thought provoking read that offers many points to ponder. . . .”
"Sure enough, by the end of Mondo Nano, the connection between games and nanotechnology becomes so obvious, so pervasive, and so ubiquitous that one wonders how it was possible that we did not see it earlier. Needless to say, this is exactly how a really compelling argument works, and the elegance with which Milburn maps the terrain only adds graceful transparency to his discussion. . . . Mondo Nano is cultural scholarship at its very best, and it sets the bar very high for similar projects."
Science Fiction Studies
"Mondo Nano revisits, in a new frame, the classic questions of technological media studies initially considered by scholars like [Walter] Benjamin: not whether the images have value as art or commerce, but more fundamentally, how do we enter into the worlds these intensively mediated images present? . . . Milburn takes those familiar questions seriously by seriously thinking about play. . . . Mondo Nano is itself designed as a game that playfully goes awry, mixing categories, subjecting science fact to science fiction history, speaking truth to power by reading cartoons of weaponized bodies rather than the actual super soldiers who remain a twinkle in their inventors’ phallic, futural gaze."
James S. Tobias
Los Angeles Review of Books
"Required reading for anyone working in the digital humanities, media studies, or in the transdisciplinary spaces of science and literature, Milburn’s book models several different literary approaches to digital objects."
"Milburn's study is a brilliant, expansive, and eye-opening read."
"...Mondo Nano is a radical reading journey that can take us deeply and critically into nanotech culture and inspire new modes of scholarship and pedagogy."
Science Fiction Research Association
"For readers interested in how emerging technologies are realized, this book provides a rich portrayal of nanotechnology’s potential being apprehended and embodied virtually, fictionally, and actually through play. . . . This book comes as a refreshing response to 'gamification' literature, which tends to focus on how games can be extended to solve problems."
International Journal of Communication