Finn Brunton

Finn Brunton Portrait

Position Title

1246C, Social Sciences and Humanities
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616
Office Hours
2-3PM Tuesday, 11-12PM Thursday: Cruess Hall courtyard (if weather is good); or Cruess Hall common space (if it's raining). Sign up for an appointment above.


(Portrait by my sister Tessa Brunton)

Research Focus

History of science and technology: computing (pre- and post-electronic), networking, early programming, early artificial intelligence, cybernetics, cryptography, surveillance; hacking and hacker culture and software; cryptocurrencies, blockchains, transaction and payment systems, alternative and experimental currencies; failed technologies, vaporware, theories of hype, dead media, abandoned infrastructure.

Utopian technological subcultures: transhumanists, cosmists, cryonics, Extropians, rationalists; communist and capitalist utopian technologies of the 1880s-1940s; history of capitalism.

Ancient technologies: knots and knotting, cordage and textiles, mnemonics, early metallurgy, foraging, load carriage. 

Currently (2022) in the preliminary stages of research for two books: one about supernatural belief and the invention of new media technologies over the last two centuries; one about "outsider science."


Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency. Princeton University Press, 2019

Communication. With Mercedes Bunz and Paula Bialski. University of Minnesota / Meson Press, 2019

Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest. With Helen Nissenbaum. MIT Press, 2015

Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet. MIT Press, April 2013

“Hacking.” In: Handbook of Digital Media and Communication (ed. Leah Lievrouw, Brian Loader). New York: Routledge, 2020

“Spam.” In: The SAGE Handbook of Web History (ed. Niels Brügger, Ian Milligan). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2018

“Notes from /dev/null.” Internet Histories 1:1-2, March 2017