Ten Years of the Postdigital in the 52group: Reflections and Developments 2009–2019


This paper traces ten years of development of the concept of the postdigital in the works of six scholars (Richard Hall, Ian Truelove, David White, Mark Childs, David Cormier, and Lawrie Phipps) acting under the collective pseudonym the 52group. The first part of the paper reproduces the 52group’s manifesto entitled ‘Preparing for the postdigital era’. The second part of the paper reproduces 2015 responses to ‘Preparing for the postdigital era’ published on group members’ blogs and websites. The third part of the paper brings together group members’ responses written in 2019 for the purpose of this article. The conclusion analyses these developments and situates them within recent developments in postdigital thinking. The article provides deep insights into the nature of our postdigital reality and offers two main contributions. First, the article offers some intellectual ancestry for postdigital theory and practice. Second, the article offers a unique insight into the evolution of feelings of people who have thought deeply about our postdigital era. With these contributions, the article offers a much-needed historical view to the postdigital and situates current postdigital thought into wider philosophical, social, and educational contexts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Editing included turning hyperlinks into standard academic references (which has unfortunately somewhat changed the original ‘feel’ of the text). Following Postdigital Science and Education house style, various spellings such as ‘Postdigital’, ‘post-digital’, and ‘post digital’ have been standardized to ‘postdigital’ everywhere except in conferences names and publication titles.

  2. 2.

    ‘Preparing for the postdigital era’ (52group 2009) was collectively written by members of the 52group and published without established order of authorship.

  3. 3.

    The JISC-funded Open Habitat project was a collaboration between the University of Oxford, Leeds Metropolitan University, King’s College London, the University of Essex and Dave Cormier, based in Prince Edward Island. It took an innovative approach to encouraging creative online collaboration in multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs)—the online 3D spaces in which each user is represented by an 'avatar' or 3D character. http://www.tall.ox.ac.uk/research/past/habitat.php .

  4. 4.

    This text was used as header to all blog/website responses reproduced in this section.

  5. 5.

    In ‘How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet’, Douglas Adams (1999) attributes the quote to the computer scientist Bran Ferren.

  6. 6.

    This quote arrives from a now dysfunctional link at https://leedspostgrad4fairpay.wordpress.com/ . Since Hall published this text on his blog in 2015, the authors have deleted the website.

  7. 7.

    Richard Hall supplemented this contribution with a wide bibliography which can be found at http://www.richard-hall.org/2019/04/03/education-technology-and-the-end-of-the-end-of-history (Hall 2019).


  1. 52group (2009). Preparing for the postdigital era - version 0.1 June 17th, 2009. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TkCUCisefPgrcG317_hZa4PwZoQ8m7rL5AJF6PazHHQ/preview?pli=1. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  2. Arndt, S., Asher, G., Knox, J., Ford, D. R., Hayes, S., Lăzăroiu, G., Jackson, L., Mañero Contreras, J., Buchanan, R., D’Olimpio, L., Smith, M., Suoranta, J., Pyyhtinen, O., Ryberg, T., Davidsen, J., Steketee, A., Mihăilă, R., Stewart, G., Dawson, M., Sinclair, C., & Peters, M. A. (2019). Between the blabbering noise of individuals or the silent dialogue of many: a collective response to ‵postdigital science and education′ (Jandrić et al. 2018). Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-019-00037-y.

  3. Balsamo, A. (1995). Technologies of the gendered body: reading cyborg women. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. CASA (2015). CASA: casual, adjunct, sessional staff and allies in Australian higher education. https://actualcasuals.wordpress.com/casa/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  5. Cascone, K. (2000). The aesthetics of failure: ‘post-digital’ tendencies in contemporary computer music. Computer Music Journal, 24(4), 12–18. https://doi.org/10.1162/014892600559489.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Childs, M. (2015). Post-digitalism – an evolutionary perspective. 4 February. https://markchilds.org/2015/02/04/post-digitalism-an-evolutionary-perspective/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  7. Cormier, D. (2015). Looking back at ‘postdigital’ 6 years later. 6 February. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2015/02/06/looking-back-at-postdigital-6-years-later/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  8. Cormier, D. (2019). The impact of conformity in education. 27 February. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2019/02/27/the-impact-of-conformity-on-education/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  9. Cornish, E. (2004) Futuring: The Exploration of the Future. Bethesda (U.S.): World Future Society.

  10. Davies, W. (2014). The limits of neoliberalism: authority, sovereignty and the logic of competition. London: SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Fawns, T. (2019). Postdigital education in design and practice. Postdigital Science and Education, 1(1), 132–145. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0021-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ford, D. R. (2019). Pedagogy of the “not:” negation, exodus, and postdigital temporal regimes. Postdigital Science and Education, 1(1), 104–118. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0009-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Forster, E. M. (1909). The machine stops. Oxford and Cambridge Review, November. https://www.ele.uri.edu/faculty/vetter/Other-stuff/The-Machine-Stops.pdf. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  14. Gartner. (2013). Gartner reveals top predictions for IT organizations and users for 2014 and beyond. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  15. Hall, R. (2014a). Notes on the University as anxiety machine. 10 July. http://www.richard-hall.org/2014/07/10/notes-on-the-university-as-anxiety-machine/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  16. Hall, R. (2014b). On mutual values and open co-operativism. 19 June. http://www.richard-hall.org/2014/06/19/on-mutual-values-and-open-co-operativism/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  17. Hall, R. (2019). Education, technology and the end of the end of history. 3 April. http://www.richard-hall.org/2019/04/03/education-technology-and-the-end-of-the-end-of-history/. Accessed 20 April 2019.

  18. Haraway, D. (1991) [1985]. Simians, cyborgs, and women: the reinvention of nature . New York: Routledge.

  19. Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology. New York and Toronto: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Howe, N. (2017). Millennials: a generation of page-turners. The Forbes, 16 January. https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2017/01/16/millennials-a-generation-of-page-turners/#680b66ff1978. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  21. Hylnka, D., & Belland, J. C. (Eds.). (1991). Paradigms regained: the uses of illuminative, semiotic and post-modern criticism as modes of inquiry in educational technology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Pubns.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Jandrić, P., Knox, J., Besley, T., Ryberg, T., Suoranta, J., & Hayes, S. (2018). Postdigital science and education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50(10), 893–899. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2018.1454000.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kluszczyński, R. W. (2014). Meat, metal & code/contestable chimeras STELARC. Laznia: Laznia Centre for Contemporary art.

  24. Marx, K. (1844). Private property and communism. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  25. Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1976 /1848). The communist manifesto. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  26. O'Brien, R. (1973). 'Dammit Janet' Rocky Horror Show. USA: Malibu: Ode Sounds & Visuals.

  27. Pasek, A. (2015). Errant Bodies: Relational Aesthetics, Digital Communication, and the Autistic Analogy. Disability Studies Quarterly, 35 (4). https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v35i4

  28. Peters, M. A., & Besley, T. (2019). Critical philosophy of the postdigital. Postdigital Science and Education, 1(1), 29–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0004-9.

  29. Phipps, L. (2015). Reviewing the post-digital. 6 February. http://lawriephipps.co.uk/?p=391. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  30. Phipps, L. (2019). Postdigital: 10 years later, algorithms and agency. 17 April. http://lawriephipps.co.uk/?p=9267. Accessed 20 April 2019.

  31. Phipps, L., & Lancloss, D. (2019). Trust, innovation and risk: a contextual inquiry into teaching practices and the implications for the use of technology. Irish Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 4(1), 68–85.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Porter, J. (2019). Vinyl and cassette sales saw double digit growth last year. The verge, 6 January. https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/6/18170624/vinyl-cassette-popularity-revival-2018-sales-growth-cd-decline. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  33. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

  34. Richmond, R. (2014). Unpaid trials & self-exploiting entrepreneurs. The occupied times of London, 6 September. http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=13436. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  35. Saccaro, M. (2014). Professors on food stamps: The shocking true story of academia in 2014. Salon, 21 September. https://www.salon.com/2014/09/21/professors_on_food_stamps_the_shocking_true_story_of_academia_in_2014/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  36. Schultz, R. (2018). SL infographic: some statistics from 15 years of SL. https://ryanschultz.com/2018/04/23/second-life-infographic-some-statistics-from-15-years/. Accessed 20 April 2019.

  37. Sinclair, C., & Hayes, S. (2019). Between the post and the com-post: examining the postdigital ‘work’ of a prefix. Postdigital Science and Education, 1(1), 119–131. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-018-0017-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Staff and Educational Development Association (2014). 19th annual SEDA conference: opportunities and challenges for academic development in a post-digital age. https://www.seda.ac.uk/events/info/450. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  39. The 3 Cosas Campaign (2019). About. https://3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/about/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  40. Turkle, S. (1997). Life on the screen: identity in the age of the internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Turkle, S. (2012). Alone together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  42. University of Greenwich (2015). The academic practice and technology (APT) conference 2015: flipping the institution: higher education in the post digital age. https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2015/schedConf/index. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  43. White, D. (2014). Postdigital: escaping the kingdom of the new? 19 June. http://daveowhite.com/postdigital-escaping-the-kingdom-of-the-new/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  44. White, D. (2015). Post-digital revisited. 19 June. http://daveowhite.com/2015/02/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

  45. White, D. (2019). Too postdigital. 12 April. http://daveowhite.com/too-postdigital/. Accessed 15 April 2019.

Download references


Petar Jandrić would like to thank Gordon Asher for introducing him to writings of the 52group and for thoughtful discussions which inspired development of this article.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dave Cormier.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cormier, D., Jandrić, P., Childs, M. et al. Ten Years of the Postdigital in the 52group: Reflections and Developments 2009–2019. Postdigit Sci Educ 1, 475–506 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-019-00049-8

Download citation


  • Postdigital
  • 52group
  • Collective
  • Posthumanism
  • Evolution
  • Algorithm