The rise of speculative devices: Hooking up with the bots of Ashley Madison

Ben Light


I attend to two areas of increasing significance in relation to Web 2.0 since its announcement in 2005. The first is a focus on the non-human in digital media research, and the second is the normalisation of dating apps in society. Building upon ideas from speculative design and speculative method, I introduce the idea of speculative devices, those things that are set in place based on a conjecture of an outcome. Drawing upon a case study of Ashley Madison, generated using a walkthrough method and analysis of media coverage, I demonstrate how the speculative devices of bots and profiles can operate, and why. I argue we need to give careful thought to how our research and practice is understood, and conducted where speculative devices are concerned.


Ashley Madison, Dating, Hooking Up, Actor-Network Theory, Speculation, Speculative Method, Speculative Devices

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2020. ISSN 1396-0466.