Essays is me, Eleanor Saitta.  These are a few pieces I've written recently.  Unless otherwise specifically noted, all work listed here is ©2014 Saitta.

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Real World Use Cases for High-Risk Users

What kinds of stories do the lives of high-risk users actually tell?  One of the most difficult things for a security engineer or a designer to understand is the life of someone living under very different circumstances, and high-risk, specifically targeted users (whether targeted by a big adversary or a small one) often have needs that are both the hardest and most critical to understand.  I'm intended to come back to this essay over time and collect more user cases, but I've started it off with just two.

An Index to the Canon of Nordic Larp Discourse

Knowing where to start in the Nordic larp discourse can be challenging; it's a large volume of material, some of which is now much more core to the discourse than other bits, but it's also an amazing world that I want share with others.  This is my index to that material, intended as an introduction to Nordic larp for non-larpers and/or non-Nordic folks.


A short piece on the industrial revolution.

Decentralization, Design, and the Cloud: Metahaven in Conversation with Eleanor Saitta

Metahaven interviewed me; we spoke on design, decentralization, network culture, the Westphalian compromise, and the Internet.  The interview was part of their essays series Captives of the Cloud.

Mad About the Yankee

An essay on the US run of the game Mad About the Boy, concentrating on the differences between US and Nordic larp culture as presented by this game run and as they may impact the larger Nordic larp scene.  Written for the 2013 Knutepunkt book Crossing Physical Borders.  The full version of the book is available online here.

It's About Time

An essay on the game Just a Little Lovin', concentrating on the function of time and event in the game, written for the 2012 Solmukhota book States of Play: Nordic Larp Around the World.  The full version of the book is available online here.

The Network and the Storyteller

On storytelling, network culture, protocols, heroes, and legibility.  This piece was originally written for the Net Narrative show organized by Harry Burke.


A review of Molly Crabapple and Laurie Penny's Discordia, including rambles on resilience, time, and sustainability.

Don't Vote.  Do

Written on the night of the 2012 US presidential elections, in disgust at the utter lack of anything that could be confused with real politics in America.

On Becoming an Adult

Reflections on the year 2011: On Becoming an Adult.  Originally written for the first New Public Thinking book, Despatches from the Invisible Revolution, available from PediaPress and featuring the work of many other fascinating folks, all reflecting on the year that was 2011.

Venture Warlordism

What happens when we can't afford democracy any more?  Originally written for the magazine Powision, published out of the University of Leipzig, for their November 2011 issue, “Wege aus der Demokratie?” or “Ways out of democracy?”.  Also available in German.

Our Stories, Our Weapons

On suicide, stories, and war.  Originally delivered as a talk at the 2011 Uncivilization festival in Hampshire, in the UK.

Transnationality and Performance

A personal and theoretical narrative on the subject of borders and the transnational experience, written for the Border Town independent architectural studio on divided cities.

Who are we?

An essay in part calling out the New Public Thinking community and related, more fluid social circles on how the community handles diversity in organization and conversation.

There is no Future

A short essay on the traps we set for ourselves in how we think about the future for Vinay Gupta's crowdsourced book project, The Future We Deserve.

The New Localism

A piece on the false promised of situated computation with respect to the way we live our lives and what the word "local" means in a modern, digitally mediated city.

What Are We?

This piece is part of Tim Maly's #50Cyborgs, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the term "cyborg", first used in print in September of 1960 in an article published by the newly formed NASA, discussing the possibility of adapting humans to space.  For the other posts in the series, see the 50 Cyborgs blog, or Tim's main blog, Quiet Babylon.

A Question of Incomprehensibility

The Call for Essays for an ongoing project on what will become incomprehensible about media culture for the natives of network culture.

Playing with the Built City


Architecture and urban planning define the world we interact with.  This has many deep and not always obvious effects — everything from what we can do in public spaces to the kinds of families we can live with.  The cities end up with rarely allow us the flexibility and humanity we want.

Cities, buildings, infrastructure are heavily politicized systems with embodied power structures on many different levels.  We can intervene, alter those structures, and create the spaces we need and want.  Architecture is generally the domain of the rich and powerful, but it doesn't have to be — we can intervene and hack the city.

In this talk, we'll explore modern urban power structures and look at different ways we as individuals can subvert the city.  We'll move outside the design-culture consumer conversation around architecture and urban futurism, and explore how to change our cities, one brick at a time.

Published in monochrom (volume 26-34, “Ye Olde Self-Referentiality”, ISBN 3950237267) and also the forthcoming proceedings of the 2009 Paraflows conference: URBAN HACKING.  Full text.

Designing the Future of Sex

Originally presented as a talk at Arse Elektronika 2009 in San Francisco, Saturday, October 3 2009, and again at Notacon 7 in Cleveland, Saturday, April 17 2010.  Talk description:

Humans use tools, and the tools we use change us.  This is true for everything we do, and we're rarely more inventive than where sex is concerned.  To understand the future of sex, we need to think like designers, and look at the future of sexual technology.  The most basic frontiers of sexual technology are relatively well-trodden.  An IP connected dildo is boring — fun to use, and certainly not an exhausted category, but theoretically less interesting.  Let's explore new territory, ask questions, and answer them with design fictions.

  • How do we find partners in a post-hetero networked world of splintered sexualities?
  • What happens when you mediate intimacy?
  • What defines safe sex when boundaries are seen as challenges?
  • How can we build radically fictive sexual bodies right now?

The essay version of the script, to be published in the proceedings (forthcoming) is here.