In a remarkably short period of time the Internet and associated digital communication technologies have deeply changed the way millions of people around the globe live their lives. But what is the nature of that impact? In chapters examining a broad range of issues—including sexuality, politics, education, race, gender relations, the environment, and social protest movements—Digitized Lives seeks answers to these central questions: What is truly new about so-called "new media," and what is just hype? How have our lives been made better or worse by digital communication technologies? In what ways can these devices and practices contribute to a richer cultural landscape and a more sustainable society?
Cutting through the vast—and often contradictory—literature on these topics, Reed avoids both techno-hype and techno-pessimism, offering instead succinct, witty and insightful discussions of how digital communication is impacting our lives and reshaping the major social issues of our era. The book argues that making sense of digitized culture means looking past the glossy surface of techno gear to ask deeper questions about how we can utilize technology to create a more socially, politically, and economically just world.
Companion website available at: culturalpolitics.net/digital_cultures
Table of Contents
Preface: Why Buy this Book? 1. How Do People Make Sense of Digitizing Cultures? The Culture-Technology Matrix Does Technology Make Us More than We Make Technology? * Components of Digital Culture Analysis * Is There a Virtual World/Real World Divide? * Terminal Confusion? * What’s in a Name? New Media/Cyber/Digital Culture/Etc. Studies 2. How is the Digital World Made? The Dreamers/Workers/Users Production Cycle The Internet’s Weird History * From Dreamers to Reality: Producing Digital Stuff * Producing through Consuming? Prosumers and Interactive Identity * Clean Rooms and/or ‘Dark Satanic Mills’? Toxic Production, E-Waste and Environmental Justice 3. Who Are We Online? Digital Masquerade, Privacy, Anonymity, Community and Cyborg dis/Embodiment Is Life Online a Masquerade? * Has the Net Killed Privacy? * Are We Becoming Posthuman Cyborgs? * Anonymity, Disinhibition and Trolls, Oh My! * Are Virtual Communities for Real? * How Much Online Life Is Good for Us? * Hegemony, Cultural Imperialism and/or Digital Diversity? 4. Is Everybody Equal Online? Digitizing Gender, Ethnicity and Dis/Ability The Default Subject Position * Is the Internet a Guy? Engendering Cyberspaces * Is the Internet Color Blind? E-racializations * Who Is Dis/Abled by Cyberspaces? Enabling and Disabling Technologies 5. Digitizing Desire? Sexploration and/or Sexploitation Real Virtual Sex Education * Digital Diddling: Varieties of Cybersex * The "Mainstreaming" of Porn * Digitized Sex Trafficking * How Queer are Cyberspaces? Alternative Sexualities 6. Does the Internet Have a Political Bias? E-Democracy, Networked Authoritarianism and Online Activism Citizen Cyborgs? E-Voting, Online Politicking, and Participatory Democracy * Can Social Media Overthrow Governments? * Netroots Activism or Just Slacktivism? * Hacking, Wiki-Leaking, and Cyberterrorism * Digitizing the Arts of Protest 7. Are Digital Games Making Us Violent and Sex-crazed, or Will They Save the World? Virtual Play, Real Impact What’s in a Game? Playing Theories * What Do Games Teach? * Do Games Make Players Violent? * Digitized ‘Militainment’? * Gender Games, Race Games * Can Games Save the World? 8. Are Kids Getting Dumber as Their Phones Get Smarter? E-Learning, ‘Edutainment’ and the Future of Knowledge Sharing ‘Is Our Children Learning’ Digitally? * What is Technology Doing in the Classroom? * Is Knowledge a Commodity or a Human Right? MOOCs, Information Feudalism and Scholarly Publishing 9. Who in the World is Online? Digital Inclusions and Exclusions The World Wide Web Isn’t * Who Needs the Internet? * From Digital Divides to Technologies for Social Inclusion * Should Everyone and Everything Be Online? * Why Digitizing Matters 10. Conclusion: Hype, Hope, and Possible Digitized Futures
T. V. Reed is Buchanan Distinguished Professor of American Studies and English at Washington State University. He is the author of The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle.
"This is it: the book on meanings digital that we are waiting to use. Share it with students, friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors. It speaks both in depth but also in conversation, with that touch for communication uniquely T. V. Reed’s. Reed’s care for details that matter is crucial for collectives of all kinds, especially when drawn properly as glimpses of bigger pictures always only just emerging, working with and toward sustainability."
—Katie King, University of Maryland, College Park, author of Networked Reenactments: Stories Transdisciplinary Knowledges Tell
"T. V. Reed’s Digitized Lives makes an important contribution to today's increasingly mediated society and culture, in which nearly every aspect of our everyday lives is touched by digital technology. This clear-eyed demystification of digital cultures’ benefits and threats functions as an indispensable guidebook for understanding the Internet today and its status as one of the most powerful communication tools of our modern age."
—Anna Everett, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Digitized Lives approaches a wide range of complex questions about digital media in our lives and does so with a thoughtfulness and curiosity that will keep readers engrossed page after page. Tracing the enormous impacts that digital media have on an array of topics — such as identity, equality, access, material culture, e-waste, sex, politics, games, and education — T. V. Reed’s provocative book will start meaningful conversations, intercede in important debates, and point us in new directions as digital technology continues to become a central character in our everyday lives."
—Jason Farman, University of Maryland, College Park
"The subjects Reed brings up should lead readers to think about and discuss the new "digitized lives" on which we embarked just a few decades ago. This readable text and its companion website, Digital Cultures <http://www.culturalpolitics.net/digital_cultures>, will be valuable for anyone interested in communication and the impact of the Internet… Summing Up: Recommended. All Readers." —C. L. Clements, Richland College, in CHOICE