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Article Review: “Viral modernity? Epidemics, Infodemics, and The ‘Bioinformational’ Paradigm”


These three authors have taken COVID-19, the naturally occurring virus, and have written about its immediate impact on the media. What is unique is that they took the less literal definition of the word ‘virus’ and argued that the Coronavirus has “spread” to the media. By all accounts, they are correct. It is true that media attention to the virus has unearthed a version of misinformation that is chaotic and dangerous.   

Viral modernity is based upon the nature of viruses and the ancient and critical role they play in evolution and culture. 

Bioinformationalism is the concept of deriv[ing,] from the analysis of a range of physical or biological characteristics of a person.1 

When I first read this paper, I was confused, to say the least. I found it fascinating. They’ve described something that I feel a lot of people in this day and age have started to touch on but never had a name for. 

Misinformation, especially during a natural pandemic like COVID-19, is a perfect example of bioinformation. The authors have related how misinformation is like a computer virus: something that is hard to stop and spreads from computer to computer.  As a historian, I find the words ‘viral modernity’ and ‘bio-informationalism’ to be new flexible concepts. However, the ideas behind them are not new but now have perfect labels for when a new item (ex. A disease like COVID-19) colors and saturates its surroundings.  

My thoughts are not perfectly written out and I encourage you to read the full paper if you can. I just wanted to express my sincere excitement for these authors’ continuation into the digital media field and my own hope to use this vocabulary in a paper of my own, someday.  


Reviewed Article: 

Michael A. Peters, Petar Jandrić & Peter McLaren (2020) Viral modernity? epidemics, infodemics, and the ‘bioinformational’ paradigm, Educational Philosophy and Theory, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2020.1744226

Additional citation:  

Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2008) What is bioinformation?, The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues, nuffieldbioethics.org/publications/forensic-use-of-bioinformation/guide-the-report/what-is-bioinformation

Other profiles that I don't use correctly: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Celeste_Rubino & https://www.goodreads.com/celesteryr Email any issues to [email protected]
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