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Conspiracy theories as assembly devices

In our forthcoming book The Public and their Platforms, myself and Lambros Fatsis write about assembly devices. When watching the superb HBO documentary Into The Storm about QAnon (trailer below) I was struck by Cullen Hoback’s description of Cicada 3301 in terms of “collecting like minded others through an internet game”. This is exactly what we trying to get to in our discussion: the capacity to produce items and experiences around which people coalesce into loose collectives through the affordances of social platforms. It’s not just a meeting point but a common object of concern around which collective identification can emerge. Crucially they can be designed and we’re moving into a stage of platform capitalism when the release and design of these assembly devices is going to become the norm rather than being exceptional.

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