1st Edition

Digital War A Critical Introduction

By William Merrin Copyright 2018
    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    Digital War offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of digital technologies upon the military, the media, the global public and the concept of ‘warfare’ itself.

    This introductory textbook explores the range of uses of digital technology in contemporary warfare and conflict. The book begins with the 1991 Gulf War, which showcased post-Vietnam technological developments and established a new model of close military and media management. It explores how this model was reapplied in Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), and how, with the Web 2.0 revolution, this informational control broke down. New digital technologies allowed anyone to be an informational producer leading to the emergence of a new mode of ‘participative war’, as seen in Gaza, Iraq and Syria. The book examines major political events of recent times, such as 9/11 and the War on Terror and its aftermath. It also considers how technological developments such as unmanned drones and cyberwar have impacted upon global conflict and explores emerging technologies such as soldier-systems, exo-skeletons, robotics and artificial intelligence and their possible future impact.

    This book will be of much interest to students of war and media, security studies, political communication, new media, diplomacy and IR in general.


    Introduction: A New Field

    1. Top-Down War: Broadcasting Conflict in the 1990s

    2. Non-War and Virtual War: Theorizing Conflict in the 1990s

    3. Informational and Networked War: Remaking Conflict in the 1990s

    4. The War on Terror: Reporting 9/11 and Afghanistan

    5. Shock and Awe: Reporting the Iraq War

    6. From Abu Ghraib to Facebook: The End of Military Informational Control

    7. Transparent War: The Wikileaks ‘War Logs’

    8. Drone War: Telepresent Assassination

    9. Ambient War: Cyberwar Everywhere

    10. #ParticipativeWar: Social Media in Gaza and Syria

    11. Viral War: Islamic State’s Digital Terror

    12. Augmented War: Wearables, Phones, Soldier-Systems, AR, Simulations, Sensors, Exo-Skeletons and BCI

    13. Algorithmic War: The A.I. and Robotic RMA

    Conclusion: The Clouds of War


    William Merrin is Associate Professor in Media and Communication at Swansea University, UK. He is the author of Media Studies 2.0 (Routledge, 2014) and Baudrillard and the Media (2005).

    'There is no longer war, there is only digital war. Merrin convincingly implicates an astonishing array of actors as participant in contemporary conflicts: this is war without bystanders. And in an era in which hacking, drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, trolls and bots have destabilised the already shaky concept of war, Merrin brings urgently needed order, clarity and vision. His analysis is sharp, compelling and refreshingly uncluttered. Students and scholars of Politics, IR, Media, Communication, Journalism, War and Security Studies now have a fabulous core text, but historians of contemporary warfare will also embrace this new guide for its bold imaginary, its vivid narration. Some will resist Digital War, for visionaries tend to upset the canon. But after Merrin, the field of war and media is renamed, reimagined, revitalised.'--Andrew Hoskins, University of Glasgow

    ‘Within the span of roughly two decades, we have seen remarkable transformations in how wars are fought and how global publics watch these wars. William Merrin provides an excellent guide to this evolution, analyzing topics ranging from expanded concepts of "journalism" to newly created battlefield robotics. Academics, policymakers, and the broader public face a daunting task in keeping up with the changing dynamics of conflict. Merrin understands this and helps us keep pace. Digital War is the right book at the right time.’--Philip Seib,University of Southern California, USA

    'Merrin has redefined the field of war and media. He connects traditional concerns about leaks, legitimacy and propaganda to the wearables, drones and robots through which war is now waged. The result is war perceived as if through fractals -- never-ending patterns of complexity and recursion, where the origin, cause or effect is never quite visible. Merrin's fascinating story takes us from war fought through top-down information control in the 1990s to today's participatory wars. But the fog of war is not lifted. Merrin explains how the information glut of participatory war keeps us in the dark. War continues to bring death and suffering, but our perception of that reality is more fragmented and cloudy than ever.'--Ben O'Loughlin, Royal Holloway, University of London