Fellow Thomas Nyckel, M.A.

Thomas Nyckel, M.A.

Technical University Braunschweig

  Fellow at CAIS from January 2021 to June 2021


CAPTCHA if you can

This project attempts to analyze CAPTCHA from a media scientific and technofeminist perspective. The Outcome of the project at CAIS will be an interdisciplinary and generally accessible monography about the internet phenomenon CAPTCHA.

Therefore, the different threads of the development of CAPTCHA and their implications within digitalization will be carved out. The project thereby helps to close the existing research gap concerning CAPTCHA.

The media studies perspective applied includes methods from media archaeology and focuses on the historical development of CAPTCHA by addressing their technological conditions. The technofeminist approach – mainly referring to physicist and feminist Karen Barad – complements and completes the toolbox of media studies by taking into account the complex intertwining of CAPTCHA to other phenomena like Microwork and the development of artificial intelligence with the help of CAPTCHAs.

The aim of this project is to sound the possibilities for self-determination and participation when it comes to the design and usage of the internet services of CAPTCHA. Beyond that the analysis will focus on the question of how insights of such scrutinies could be generalized for other internet phenomena, too, to prepare for coming developments.

Main Research Topics
  • Media Studies
  • Karen Barad’s Agential Realism
  • Feminist Critical Posthumanism
  • Theory of the Digital
  • Hypercomputation
Curriculum Vitae
  • 2020: Doctoral Program “Gendered Configurations of Humans and Machines”, Technical University Braunschweig
  • 2016: MA in Media Studies, Humboldt-University at Berlin. The master’s thesis “Computability as a Sphere of Digital Media” was awarded the Humboldt-price 2017.
  • 2013: BA in Philosophy/Musicology, University of Potsdam
Lectures and Publications
  • Nyckel, Thomas: Karen Barads New Materialism und die Konstitution von Mensch und Maschine in den Praktiken des CAPTCHA. Lecture at the annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft 2019 “Medien-Materialitäten” at the university of Cologne, September 25–28, 2019.
  • Nyckel, Thomas: Karen Barads agentieller Realismus und die Medienpraktiken der Künstlichen Intelligenz. Lecture at the workshop “Über das Versiegeln und Öffnen von Black Boxes – Dispositive und Artefaktarrangements als Analyseinstrumente” at the university of Heidelberg, May 23–25, 2019.
  • Nyckel, Thomas: CAPTCHA oder: Trainieren wir die digitalen Medienmaschinen? Lecture at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HBK) Braunschweig, January 15, 2019.