Communication
Communication
 


argaiv1902

 
* Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. Douglas Rushkoff (NYU and The New School). NY: Current (Penguin Group), 2013, 296p, $26.95. Media theorist and author of 12 books states that, in the 1990s, we were all futurists, energized by new technologies, new theories, new business models, and new approaches that promised something different. And then we got there. We arrived in the future. “That’s when the story really fell apart, and we began experiencing our first true symptoms of present shock.” (p.15) Chapters describe “now-ist pop culture,” TV viewers moving from show to show to capture important moments on the fly, the CNN effect of real-time feed, Occupy Wall Street as the first post-narrative political movement with lack of a specific goal, computer games as pop culture’s answer to the collapse of narrative, change as “a steady state of existence,” our “chronobiological crisis of depression, suicides, cancers, poor productivity, and social malaise” caused by digiphrenia and filter failure, overwinding (in the short forever, when everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes, the entirety of culture becomes a single layer deep), the hyperconnected fractal reality, and zombies as the perfect horror creations for a media-saturated age in which we are overloaded. Present shock provides the perfect cultural and emotional pretexts for apocalyptic thinking. “The hardest part of living in present shock is that there’s no end and, for that matter, no beginning. It’s a chronic plateau of interminable stresses that seem to have always been there. This is why the return to simplicity offered by the most extreme scenarios is proving to be so alluring to so many of us.” (p.247) [NOTE: A similar message to that of Hartmut Rosa (above), but in an entirely different style of writing.] (SOCIETY * COMMUNICATION * “PRESENT SHOCK”)
* Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know  (www.routledge.com/9780415659086). Mark Andrejevic (U of Queensland, Australia). NY: Routledge, May 2013, 240p, $37.95pb (also as e-book). The era of ‘big data’—characterized by information overload and data glut—influences the way we think about and use information. Andrejevic traces connections between the different strategies various groups are using to navigate a mediated information landscape that has transformed quite rapidly from one characterized by perceived scarcity (and barriers to access) to one of data glut. Strategies like neuromarketing, data mining, and sentiment analysis illuminate the social, political, and economic roles of information which challenges the empowering promise of the digital information revolution. (COMMUNICATION * INFOGLUT)
**The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business.  Eric Schmidt (executive chairman, Google; former Google CEO) and Jared Cohen (director of Google Ideas; adjunct senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations).  NY: Alfred A. Knopf, April 2013, 315p, $26.95.  The Internet continues to mutate, growing larger and more complex; it has “transformed into an omnipresent and endlessly multifaceted outlet for human energy and expression…a source for tremendous good and potentially dreadful evil.” (p.3)  By 2025, the majority of the world’s population will have access to all of the world’s information through a device that fits in the palm of the hand.  At every level of society, connectivity will continue to be more affordable.  “We’ll be more efficient, more productive, and more creative.” (p.4)

 

*Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. Robert W. McChesney (Prof of Communication, U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). NY: The New Press, 2013, 299p, $27.95. The Internet is the culmination of nearly two centuries of electronic developments in communication. It has already had a huge impact on humankind and continues to do so. An initial chapter surveys the “Celebrants” who view the Internet positively (Clay Shirky, Yochai Benkler, Cass Sunstein, Peter H. Diamandis, James Curran, etc.) and the “Skeptics” who counter what the celebrants say (Evgeny Morosov, Jaron Lanier, Eli Pariser, Sherry Turkle, Nicholas Carr, Clifford Stoll, Rebecca MacKinnon, Virginia Eubanks, Larry Rosen), noting that the two sides are talking past each other. “Both camps, with a few exceptions, have a single, deep, and often fatal flaw…ignorance about really existing capitalism and an underappreciation of how capitalism dominates social life.” (p.13) A political economy context is needed to make sense of the Internet. The profit motive, commercialism, public relations, and marketing are defining feature of contemporary capitalism and basic to any assessment of how the Internet is likely to development. Chapters discuss the US as a weak democracy when seen in the light of capitalism, the political economy of communication, the Internet as a “capitalist hot spot,” the rise of a handful of gigantic firms to dominate the Internet alongside the telecom giants, how advertising has flooded the Internet, the sorry state of journalism in the digital age, and whether the Internet can be a democratic force. “The crisis of our times is that capitalism undermines democracy… (and) the Internet is in the very middle of this critical juncture.” (p.231) Digital technologies make the new economy and self-management of decentralized units far more realistic. The Internet can provide the greatest journalism and public sphere every imagined, and it plays a huge role in allowing people to self-organize. But “left on their current course and driven by the needs of capital, digital technologies can be deployed in ways that are extraordinarily inimical to freedom, democracy, and anything remotely connected to the good life.” (p.232) [NOTE: Concludes with 52 pages of notes providing an extensive bibliography on the digital revolution pro and con.] (COMMUNICATION * DEMOCRACY * INTERNET AND CAPITALISM)


*Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Anthony M. Townsend (Institute for the Future, Palo Alto CA; Center for Transportation, NYU). NY: W.W. Norton, Oct 2013, 384p, $28.95. “The old city of concrete, glass, and steel now conceals a vast underworld of computers and software. Linked up via the Internet, these devices a re being stitched together into a nervous system that supports the daily lives of billions in a world of huge and growing cities.” (p.xii) This is a historic shift in how we build and manage cities. Smart cities can adapt on the fly, by pulling readings from vast arrays of sensors; they optimize heating and cooling in buildings, balance the flow of electricity through the power grid, and keep transportation networks moving. They “use technology to do more with less, and to tame and green the chaos of booming cities.” (p.xiii) Yet every city contains the DNA of its own destruction. “The smart city may come crashing down under its own weight because it is already buggy, brittle, and bugged, and will only become more so.” Normal accidents will be inevitable, and the only questions will be when smart cities fail and how much damage results. Smart cities may also worsen the gaps between rich and poor, and/or become the ultimate setup for surveillance—the digital analogue of Jeremy Bentham’s 1791 Panopticon prison design. Chapters discuss overhauling the power grid, the role of Cisco Systems (which seeks to become “the new plumber of smart cities” and “to control the nervous system of the entire urban world”), the role of IBM in systems modeling for cities, the early 20C visions of Patrick Geddes and the Garden City movement, the open-source metropolis, citizen microcontrol, sociability as the smart city’s Killer App, reinventing City Hall, applications in developing countries, a planet of civic laboratories (driven by a new crop of NGOs working to cross-fertilize innovations, e.g. Code for America and CityMart), a new civics for a smart century. [NOTE: A fascinating read, also serving as a bridge between Big Data (above) and Digital Disconnect (below).] (SMART CITIES * BIG DATA * COMMUNICATION)

* Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger (Prof of Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford U Internet Institute) and Kenneth Cukier (Data Editor, The Economist). Boston & NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 242p, $27. The world is awash with more information than ever before, and that information is growing faster. “Big data” is the ability of society to harness information in novel ways to produce useful insights or goods and services of significant value. “The era of big data challenges the way we live and interact with the world. Most strikingly, society will need to shed some of its obsession for causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing why but only what.” (p.7) Big data’s ascendancy represent three shifts in the way we analyze information that transforms how we understand and organize society: 1) in this new world, we can analyze far more data, and in some cases we can process all of it relating to a particular phenomenon (since the19C society depended on samples when faced with large numbers—an artifact of a period of information scarcity; using all the data lets us see details we never could); 2) looking at vastly more data permits us to loosen our desire for exactitude: with big data, we’ll often be satisfied with a sense of general direction; 3) this leads to a move away from the age-old search for causality. Big data changes the nature of business, markets, and society. With sensors placed all over the world, it will become integral to understanding pollution data and climate change. It will improve and lower the cost of healthcare. “There is a treasure hunt under way, driven by the insights to be extracted from data and the dormant value that can be unleashed.” (p15) But there are also risks: threats to privacy, penalties based on propensities (punishing people before they have acted, i.e. “predictive policing”), and falling victim to a “dictatorship of data.” Handled responsibly, big data is a useful tool of rational decision-making and helps us to do things better and to do new things; wielded unwisely, it may be a source of repression. “As big data becomes commonplace, it may well affect how we think about the future… Knowing how actions will play out in the future will allow us to take remedial steps to prevent problems or improve outcomes.” [NOTE: Rather glib and repetitious, but worth considering, even if the techno-swagger “revolution” is not as clear or imminent as suggested in the book title.] (BIG DATA “REVOLUTION” * COMMUNICATION * SOCIETY * METHODS)


* Present Shock: When Everything Happens NowDouglas Rushkoff (NYU and The New School). NY: Current (Penguin Group), 2013, 296p, $26.95. Media theorist and author of 12 books states that, in the 1990s, we were all futurists, energized by new technologies, new theories, new business models, and new approaches that promised something different. And then we got there. We arrived in the future. “That’s when the story really fell apart, and we began experiencing our first true symptoms of present shock.” (p.15) Chapters describe “now-ist pop culture,” TV viewers moving from show to show to capture important moments on the fly, the CNN effect of real-time feed, Occupy Wall Street as the first post-narrative political movement with lack of a specific goal, computer games as pop culture’s answer to the collapse of narrative, change as “a steady state of existence,” our “chronobiological crisis of depression, suicides, cancers, poor productivity, and social malaise” caused by digiphrenia and filter failure, overwinding (in the short forever, when everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes, the entirety of culture becomes a single layer deep), the hyperconnected fractal reality, and zombies as the perfect horror creations for a media-saturated age in which we are overloaded. Present shock provides the perfect cultural and emotional pretexts for apocalyptic thinking. “The hardest part of living in present shock is that there’s no end and, for that matter, no beginning. It’s a chronic plateau of interminable stresses that seem to have always been there. This is why the return to simplicity offered by the most extreme scenarios is proving to be so alluring to so many of us.” (p.247) [NOTE: A similar message to that of Hartmut Rosa (above), but in an entirely different style of writing.] (SOCIETY * COMMUNICATION * “PRESENT SHOCK”)


* Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know  (www.routledge.com/9780415659086). Mark Andrejevic (U of Queensland, Australia). NY: Routledge, May 2013, 240p, $37.95pb (also as e-book). The era of ‘big data’—characterized by information overload and data glut—influences the way we think about and use information. Andrejevic traces connections between the different strategies various groups are using to navigate a mediated information landscape that has transformed quite rapidly from one characterized by perceived scarcity (and barriers to access) to one of data glut. Strategies like neuromarketing, data mining, and sentiment analysis illuminate the social, political, and economic roles of information which challenges the empowering promise of the digital information revolution. (COMMUNICATION * INFOGLUT)


**The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business.  Eric Schmidt (executive chairman, Google; former Google CEO) and Jared Cohen (director of Google Ideas; adjunct senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations).  NY: Alfred A. Knopf, April 2013, 315p, $26.95.  The Internet continues to mutate, growing larger and more complex; it has “transformed into an omnipresent and endlessly multifaceted outlet for human energy and expression…a source for tremendous good and potentially dreadful evil.” (p.3)  By 2025, the majority of the world’s population will have access to all of the world’s information through a device that fits in the palm of the hand.  At every level of society, connectivity will continue to be more affordable.  “We’ll be more efficient, more productive, and more creative.” (p.4)

The vast majority, digitally empowered, will increasingly find themselves living, working, and being governed in two worlds, virtual and physical.  “On the world stage, the most significant impact of the spread of communication technologies will be the way they help reallocate the concentration of power away from states and institutions and transfer it to individuals.” (p.6)  Authoritarian governments will find newly connected populations more difficult to control, while democratic states will be forced to include many more voices.

The seven chapters are all future-oriented.  1) Our Future Selves.  “Soon everyone on Earth will be connected” (p.13), and everyone will benefit, but not equally.  Instant language translation, virtual-reality interactions, and real-time collective editing will reshape how firms and organizations interact.  Mobile phones will offer safe and inexpensive options for educating children, and IT will assist advances in health and medicine in many ways.  “Connectivity benefits everyone.  Those who have none will have some, and those who have a lot will have even more.” (p.28)  2) The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting. “In the next decade, the world’s virtual population will outnumber the population of the earth,” (p.32) as nearly everyone is represented in multiple ways online.  “Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens in the future, and it will exist primary online.”  (p.36)  Businesses will proliferate that cater to privacy and reputation concerns, and a new realm of insurance will protect online identity against theft and hacking, fraudulent accusations, or misuse.  “Where we get our information and what sources we trust will have a profound impact on our future identities.” (p.47)  New coping strategies will be needed for corporations, the law, civil society organizations, and peer-to-peer communications, especially as states collect more biometric information through voice-recognition and facial-recognition software.  3) The Future of States.  On the balkanization of the Internet, state censorship or “filtering,” issues of defending freedom of information and expression, concerns about intellectual property (especially as concerns China), the decreasing importance of size (technology empowers all parties, and allows smaller actors to have outsized impacts), groups lacking formal statehood that may establish virtual sovereignty (e.g., the Kurds), cyber-attacks and cyber war (in the future, dozens of states will have the capacity to launch large-scale cyber-attacks), the new multi-polar Code War (where ideological fault lines will emerge around free expression and open data); “states will have to contend with the fact that governing at home and influencing abroad is far more difficult now” (p.120).  4) The Future of Revolution.  “The noisy nature of the virtual world will impede the ability of state security to keep up with and crush revolutionary activity, enabling a revolution to start… as connectivity spreads and new portions of the world are welcomed into the online fold, revolutions will continually sprout up, more casually and more often…groups all around the world will seize their moment, addressing long-held grievances or new concerns…democratic societies will see more protests related to perceived social injustice and economic inequality, while people in repressive countries will demonstrate against issues like fraudulent elections, corruption, and police brutality…there will be few truly new causes, merely better forms of mobilization and many more participants.”  (p.122)  Future revolutions may change regimes, “but they will not necessarily produce democratic outcomes.” (p.148)  5) The Future of Terrorism.  Technology is an equal-opportunity enabler, and “the unavoidable truth is that connectivity benefits terrorists and violent extremists too; as it spreads, so will the risks.” (p.150) There are clear advantages to cyber attacks for extremist groups: little or no risk of personal bodily harm, minimal resource commitment, and opportunities to inflict a massive amount of damage.  The technical skills of violent extremists will grow as they develop strategies for recruitment, training, and execution in the virtual world.  But despite these gains, IT in the digital age also makes terrorists far more vulnerable, and cyber terrorists will have less room for error (only one mistake or weak link can compromise an entire network).  6) The Future of Conflict, Combat and Intervention.  “In the future, massacres on a genocidal scale will be harder to conduct, but discrimination will likely worsen and become more personal.” (p.184)  Increased connectivity will provide practitioners of discrimination with new ways to marginalize minorities and other disliked communities (e.g., the Chinese government may target the troublesome Uighur minority in western China by eliminating all Uigher content online, or by curtailing Internet access).  The landscape of future war will be nothing like it has been in the past, due to automation of warfare, unmanned systems for combat, virtualized conflict, and the need to maintain cybersecurity of equipment and systems.  Ultimately, technology will complicate conflict.  Aggressors will take more actions in the less risky virtual front, with hard-to-attribute cyber first-strike invasions.  7) The Future of Reconstruction.  New technology can turn societies upside-down and even tear them apart, but it can also help to put them back together.  “Reconstruction efforts will become more innovative, more inclusive and more efficient over time, as old models and methods are either updated or discarded…Just as future conflicts will see the addition of a virtual front, so too will reconstruction efforts.” (p.217)  In the emerging reconstruction prototype, virtual institutions will exist in parallel with their physical counterparts and serve as a backup in times of need, with many government functions conducted on online platforms.

Conclusions: 1) “the vast majority of the world will be net beneficiaries of connectivity, experiencing greater efficiency and opportunities, and an improved quality of life; but despite these almost universal benefits, the connected experience will not be uniform—a digital caste system will endure well into the future” (p.254); 2) technology alone is no panacea for the world’s ills, yet smart uses of technology can make a world of difference; 3) “the virtual world will not overtake or overhaul the existing world order, but it will complicate almost every behavior” (p.255); 4) states will have to practice two foreign policies and two domestic policies—one for the virtual world and one for the physical world; 5) citizens will have more power than ever before, “but it will come with costs, particularly to both privacy and security.”

 [COMMENT: The future world according to two leading Googlers may be hyped to some degree and slanted to more net gain than loss (could self-interested Google claim otherwise?), but the myriad forecasts herein deserve close attention.  Many fresh and important ideas are provided on security (revolution, terrorism, conflict, reconstruction), but nothing whatsoever on sustainability (climate change, energy, ecosystems, population, etc.) or the downside of  information hyper-abundance: chaotic infoglut.  On the other hand, those thinking about sustainability almost universally ignore the disruptive threats and opportunities of the new digital age.]

 (COMMUNICATION * SECURITY * DIGITAL AGE)

 

** OECD Internet Economy Outlook 2012.  OECD.  Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Oct 2012, 296p, $88 (e-book). The Internet is a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right, but it is also “a vital infrastructure for much of the world’s economy” and is firmly in its 2nd stage of development, having evolved from a data network connecting PCs with wires to a much broader network of new portable devices, from mobile phones to tablet computers. The Internet is also on the cusp of a much larger expansion to objects that typically did not have communications capabilities: the "Internet of things" is projected to have more connections than the people using them. This raises many important socio-economic and political issues for stakeholders to consider, as economies and societies become increasingly inter-meshed. The report covers overarching trends (growth of broadband, importance of mobility, shift to cloud computing), how the Internet sector has proven to be resilient during the recent economic crisis, various drivers and impacts of Internet use and deployment, the top 250 ICT firms by country and sector (2000 and 2011), emerging technologies, e-health, digital content, security and privacy, investment in R&D, and a methodology for measuring the Internet economy. Other topics include Internet trends and development, Internet adoption and use by households and business, developments in digital content, ICTs for health and ageing (telehealth, electronic health records, empowering patients, addressing needs of the elderly), digital divides in key segments of the population, phases of e-business development, enhancing e-government, and government priorities and policy developments.  [Note: This edition is the first in a series, replacing and building on the long-running OECD Information Technology Outlook.] (COMMUNICATION * “INTERNET OF THINGS” * INTERNET ECONOMY OUTLOOK)

 

* Connected Minds: Technology and Today's Learners.  OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation.  Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, July 2012, 172p, $23 (e-book). In all OECD countries, digital media and connectedness are integral to the lives of today’s learners. Young people’s attachment to digital media and connectivity will shortly reach a level of almost universal saturation in OECD countries. In the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Austria, more than 95% of 15-year-olds use a computer connected to the Internet daily while at home. On average, two hours per day are devoted to a number of ICT activities, mostly related to social interactions and the consumption of digital content, sometimes in connection with school-related tasks. The book presents answers to three questions: 1) Can the claim that today’s students are "new millennium learners" or "digital natives” be sustained empirically? 2) Is there consistent research evidence demonstrating the effects of technology on cognitive development, social values, and learning expectations? 3) What are the implications for educational policy and practice? As for the effects of digital technologies and connectivity on cognitive skills development and social values and lifestyles, the available yet scarce research evidence does not always present a coherent picture, with results from some studies disagreeing with those of others. Digital technologies are too recent, and their effects on learners too multi-faceted and interrelated – and hence difficult to untangle – to allow the research community to provide a coherent knowledge base to the stakeholders concerned. Contrary to what many voices have suggested, students cannot be said to have dramatically changed their expectations about teaching, learning and technology: although they value the convenience and the benefits that they get with technology, their preferences are still for traditional face-to-face teaching where technology improves current practices and results in higher engagement, a more efficient resolution of learning tasks and increased outcomes. If those gains do not become apparent to students, then reluctance emerges. The idea that students would be the strongest supporters of radical transformations in education, as attractive as it may seem, is not yet supported by research evidence. Teachers will have to lead the way.            (EDUCATION * COMMUNICATION * LEARNING AND NEW ICT)

 

* Transnational Culture in the Internet Age.  Edited by Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub (both Michigan State U). Northampton MA: Edward Elgar, June 2012, 224p, $99.95. Digital technology has transformed global culture, connecting and empowering users on a hitherto unknown scale. Existing paradigms from intellectual property rights to cultural diversity and telecommunications regulation seem increasingly obsolete, confounding policymakers and provoking wide-ranging debate.  The authors examine new approaches to regulating communications and cultural production and explain emerging challenges such as regulating in the face of the Internet’s overwhelming scale, establishing jurisdictional clarity, and responding to global communication’s power to dissolve and recreate identities.  (COMMUNICATION * GLOBAL CULTURE * CULTURE AND THE INTERNET)

 

* What Is Happening to News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis in Journalism.  Jack Fuller (former  editor and publisher, Chicago Tribune; and president, Tribune Publishing Company).  Chicago IL: U of Chicago Press, Dec 2012, 224p, $15pb (also as e-book).  A Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist argues that, across America, newspapers that have defined their cities for over a century are rapidly failing, their circulations plummeting even as opinion-soaked Web outlets thrive. Meanwhile, nightly news programs shock viewers with stories of horrific crime and celebrity scandal, while the smug sarcasm of shouting pundits dominates cable television.  Fuller explores how journalism lost its way—and who is responsible for the ragged retreat from its great traditions.  The collision between a revolutionary new information age and a human brain that is still wired for the threats faced by our prehistoric ancestors caused the current crisis of journalism. The information overload of contemporary life makes us dramatically more receptive to sensational news, while rendering the staid, objective voice of standard journalism ineffective.  Fuller offers guidance rooted in the precepts of ethical journalism. (COMMUNICATION * JOURNALISM IN CRISIS * INFOGLUT * NEWS)
 
* Attacks on the Press in 2011: A Worldwide Survey. Committee to Protect Journalists.  Preface by Sandra Mims Rowe (chairwoman, CPJ; former editor, The Oregonian, Portland); Introduction by Joel Simon (executive director, CPJ). United Book Press / Committee to Protect Journalists (dist by Brookings), 2012, 350p, $30pb. Trade and the Internet are turning us into global citizens, but the news we need to ensure accountability is often stopped at national borders. CPR’s report analyzes press conditions and documents new dangers in more than 100 countries worldwide. China is ramping up censorship, Iran is jailing dozens of journalists, and Turkey is using nationalist laws to stifle critical reporting. In Mexico criminals are dictating the news, while in Pakistan shadowy agents are attacking investigative reporters. In the Americas, national leaders are building elaborate state media operations to dominate the news and amplify their personal agendas. In European and African nations, authorities are invoking national security laws and deploying intelligence services to intimidate the press. (COMMUNICATION * PRESS FREEDOM * JOURNALISTS ATTACKED WORLDWIDE)


* Tales from Facebook. Daniel Miller (Prof of Anthropology, University College London).  Cambridge UK & Malden MA: Polity Press, 2011, 218p.  Facebook, now in its sixth year of existence, has overtaken Google to become the most visited site on the Internet.  According to the company, as of July 2010 there were >500 million active users, of whom half log on during any given day.  “Every month sees 3 billion photos posted, and every day sees 60 million status updates.  The average user has 130 friends and spends just under an hour a day on the site.”  Most of this anthropological inquiry is devoted to 12 case studies of Facebook use.  A concluding chapter describes 1) how Facebook helps to make relationships; 2) Facebook as a meta-friend (a place where we can talk as much as we like, with or without responses from others; a site that genuinely addresses the problem of boredom, especially for teenagers); 3) the possibility that Facebook may become a fetish; 4) Facebook transforming the private to the public; 5) Facebook as the transformation of self and self-consciousness; 6) Facebook reversing two centuries of flight from community (“the best-documented and most significant impact that Facebook can be seen to have had in the world”); 7) Facebook showing the downside of community; 8) Facebook and politics (Facebook has been important for galvanizing response, but “we should be cautious about the idea that we have finally reached some brave new public sphere”) 9) Facebook as a “time suck” (in that people spend remarkable amounts of their lives on Facebook); 10) Facebook enabling the death of distance as well as the death of time; 11) Facebook changing the relationship between work and leisure; 12) Facebook perhaps altering the balance between visual and verbal in personal communication.  Concludes that “evidence in this book suggests that the main impact of Facebook is on aspects of those relationships such as dating, feelings of isolation and boredom, gossip, maintaining long-distance relationships, sharing of news, and other rather similar unremarkable activities.”  For most people, it is their immediate family and closest social relationships that dominate their lives.  [NOTE: Properly cautious about what Facebook is becoming, with many of the case studies from the island of Trinidad.   Especially see Chapter 7 on the three forms of “Time Suck” for teenagers: communication, online gaming, and cultivating one’s profile.  This may seem “mind-numbingly tedious,” but it is a way to cultivate key social skills.]  (COMMUNICATION * FACEBOOK IMPACTS)


* Ubiquitous Photography. Martin Hand (Assoc Prof of Sociology, Queens U, Canada).  Digital Media and Society Series.  Cambridge UK & Malden MA: Polity Press, 2012, 220p.  “We are witnessing the death of fil but the proliferation of photographies.”  The weaving of photographies—as images and ideas, as devices and techniques, and as practices—into every corner of contemporary society and culture produces quite a different scenario from that envisaged in the late 20C.  “Where many once imagined a future of digital simulation and virtual reality, we now arguably have the opposite: the visual publicization of ordinary life in a ubiquitous photoscape.”  The term “ubiquitous” refers not simply to images, but to the discourses, technologies, and practices of photography that have become radically pervasive across all domains of society.  Photography has not simply spread exponentially, but some of the components of photography have morphed and become woven into the fabric of information technologies and economic, social, political, and cultural forms.  This had led to a tremendous diversity in the ways in which images are produced, consumed, distributed, and interpreted.  The future of digital photography has many possible trajectories, as standardization of digital imaging continues across devices, systems, and forms of ordinary practice.  “It seems highly unlikely that we will see a decrease in the significance of visual mediation in the near future.”       (COMMUNICATION * PHOTOGRAPHY NOW UBIQUITOUS * DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY * VISUAL MEDIATION)


* The World of Cybercrime: Issues, Cases, and Responses (5 Volumes). Samuel C. McQuade III (Graduate Program Coordinator, Rochester Institute of Technology; Founder, Cyber Safety and Ethics Initiative; former US Dept of Justice and Committee on Law and Justice, National Research Council).  Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Dec 2012, 1,650p, $499.95 (also as e-book). Covers all major areas in the world of cybercrime with up-to-the minute detail on the extent and variety of current problems. Explores and differentiates major types of online activity involving IT-enabled abuse, threats, and cybercrimes. Topics include hacking, cracking, and malware Smacking; social computing and online sex; online gaming and Internet addiction; cyber bullying and online stalking; identity theft, phishing, and online fraud; and pirating, corporate espionage, and intellectual property theft. (COMMUNICATION  * CRIME/JUSTICE * CYBERCRIME)

*Cyber Defense: Countering Targeted Attacks.  Richard Stiennon.  Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield: Dec 2012, 192p, $39.95.  Widespread random attacks from viruses, worms, and bots were used to engage in cyber crime and disruptive behavior. As these threats mature, they turn into targeted attacks against banks, large data processors, and governments. Today, such targeted attacks have become the greatest threat facing every organization. Overviews the technology, methodology, and tools needed to defend digital assets from targeted attacks. Addresses security practitioners, IT managers of corporate and government sites, and government agency officials determining cyber policies.  Explains why countering targeted attacks requires new investment in technology, as well as changes to security operations and organizations.  Addresses new services and products that have arisen to assist in the task of discovering and blocking targeted attacks, and how deploying these technologies properly is a critical defense against targeted attacks.  Each chapter introduces a technology, the types of attacks it defends against, and the products and services available that are suited to the task.   (CYBER DEFENSE * SECURITY * CRIME * INFOTECH: ATTACKS)

 

* Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of the Media.  Edited by Pelle Snickars (Head of Research, National Library of Sweden) and Patrick Vonderau (Assoc Prof of Cinema Studies, Stockholm U).  NY: Columbia U Press, July 2012, 352p, $29.5pb (also as e-book).  Many  millions of consumers now love and live by their iPhones.  Combining traditional and social media with mobile connectivity, the iPhone and other smartphones have redefined as well as expanded the dimensions of everyday life, allowing individuals to personalize media as they move and process constant flows of data.  Looks at the implications of this technology on society, media, and culture by exploring the iPhone as a technological prototype and lifestyle gadget, patterns of consumption, the fate of solitude against smartphone ubiquity, the economy of the App Store, and the distance between the accessibility of digital information and the protocols governing its use.   (COMMUNICATION * iPHONES * SMARTPHONES)

 

* Networks without a Cause: A Critique of Social MediaGeert Lovink (U of Amsterdam).  Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, Jan 2012, 240p, $22.5pb.  What compels us to engage so diligently with social network systems? The vast majority of Facebook users are caught in a frenzy of ‘friending’, ‘liking’, and ‘commenting’.  Examines our collective obsession with identity and self-management, coupled with fragmentation and information overload endemic to our contemporary online culture.  Analyzes the over-hyped, networked world with case studies on search engines, online video, blogging, digital radio, media activism and the WikiLeaks saga.  Critiques the political structures and conceptual powers embedded in the technologies that shape our lives.  (COMMUNICATION * SOCIAL MEDIA CRITICIZED * FACEBOOK)

 

* Tales from Face-bookDaniel Miller (University College, London).  Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 2011, 240p, $19.95pb.  Facebook is now used by nearly 500 million people throughout the world, many of whom spend several hours a day on the site.  Once the preserve of youth, the largest increase in usage today is among older sections of the population.  Facebook had suddenly and hugely expanded our social relationships. Examines how Facebook transforms the lives of particular individuals, but also presents a general theory of Facebook as a culture, and considers the likely consequences of social networking in the future.                  (COMMUNICATION * SOCIAL MEDIA * FACEBOOK * SOCIETY)

 

* Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter AgeDhiraj Murthy (Bowdoin College).  Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, Oct 2012, 220p, $22.95pb.  Discusses Twitter’s role in our political, economic, and social lives, and draws a historical line between the telegraph and Twitter to reflect on changes in social communication over time.  Also dwells on the impact of Twitter on the contemporary media environment. (COMMUNICATION * SOCIAL MEDIA * TWITTER)

 

* YouTube (Second Edition).  Jean Burgess and Joshua Green (Queensland U).  Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, May 2012, $19.95pb.  YouTube is now firmly established as the dominant platform for online video.  First published in 2009, this was the first book to take YouTube seriously as a media and cultural phenomenon.  The new edition explains how the platform is changing, why it matters, and how it is used by the media industries, by audiences and amateur producers and by particular communities of interest--and the ways in which these uses challenge existing ideas about cultural ‘production’ and ‘consumption’.            (COMMUNICATION * YOUTUBE * SOCIETY)

 

* Ubiquitous Photography.  Martin Hand (Queens U, Ontario).  Cambridge UK: Polity Press, Aug 2012, 200p, $22.95pb. A critical examination of the technologies, practices, and cultural significance of digital photography, in historical, social, and political-economic context.  Shifts in image-making, storage, commodification, and interpretation are highly significant processes in an image-rich culture.  Covers the history and politics of image making and manipulation, the current explosion in amateur photography, tagging and sharing via social networking, memory and mobility, immediacy and preservation, and citizen-journalism.   (COMMUNICATION * PHOTOGRAPHY * DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY)

 

*Changing Our Textual Minds: Towards a Digital Order of Knowledge. Adriaan van der Weel (Prof of Modern Dutch Book History, Dept of Book and Digital Media Studies, Leiden U).  NY & UK: Palgrave Macmillan, March 2012, 240p, $75.  Text has always been the chief vehicle for the inscription and dissemination of knowledge and culture. As more and more of our textual communication moves into the digital realm we have reached a crucial moment in the history of textual transmission. In many respects digital text looks deceptively like print. But beneath the surface of the screen, digital textuality obeys very different rules than printed text.  This new universe offers a wealth of new and exciting possibilities, but also sets new rules for writers and readers engaging with text.  Continuities and discontinuities in  textual transmission are analyzed, concluding that “the need to come to grip with the shift to digital textuality in the early 21C will literally change our minds.”   (COMMUNICATION * KNOWLEDGE IN DIGITAL ERA * DIGITAL TEXTUALITY: NEW RULES)
 
*Attacks on the Press in 2011: A Worldwide Survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists.  Preface by Sandra Mims Rowe (chairwoman, Committee to Protect Journalists).  Introduction by Joel Simon (executive director, CPJ; www.cjj.org).  Washington: Committee to Protect Journalists (dist by Brookings Institution Press), Feb 2012, 350p, $30pb.  Trade and the Internet are turning us into global citizens, but the news we need to ensure accountability is often stopped at the borders.  In the Americas, national leaders are building elaborate state media operations to dominate the news and amplify their personal agendas.  In European and African nations, authorities are invoking national security laws and deploying intelligence services to intimidate the press.  China is ramping up censorship, Iran is jailing dozens of journalists, Turkey is using nationalist laws to stifle critical reporting, criminals are dictating the news in Mexico, and shadowy agents are attacking investigative reporters in Pakistan.  Analyzes press conditions and documents new dangers in more than 100 countries worldwide.  (COMMUNICATION * PRESS: ATTACKS WORLDWIDE * COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS * JOURNALISTS ATTACKED)
 
 
* The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood.  James Gleick (www.around.com).  NY: Pantheon Books, 2011, 526p/$29.95.  A writer on science/technology issues and author of Chaos: The Making of a New Science (on chaos theory) describes the development of our modern understanding of information, the invention of information theory and the computer, and where we are heading.  “As the role of information grows beyond anyone’s reckoning, it grows to be too much… We have information fatigue, anxiety, and glut.  We have met the Devil of Information Overload.” (p.11)  Deluge as become a common metaphor, and there is a sensation of drowning—information as a rising, churning flood.  Yet a barrage of data often fails to tell us what we need to know, and knowledge does not guarantee enlightenment or wisdom.  Much information is lost, and an unindexed Internet site is in the same limbo as a mis-shelved library book, which is why the most successful businesses of the information economy are built on filtering and searching.  “The old ways of organizing knowledge no longer work.”                                                                                       (INFOGLUT * COMMUNICATION)
 
* The Age of Distraction: Reading, Writing, and Politics in a High-Speed Networked EconomyRobert Hassan (Senior Research Fellow, Culture and Communication Dept, U of Melbourne).  Piscataway NJ: Transaction Publishers, Oct 2011, 219p, $34.95.  Reading and writing have functioned to build the world we have known for 3,000 years.  “These interacting processes have now been transformed at their core and are building a different world, where certainties of the previous eras are being displaced by a chronic and pervasive mode of cognitive distraction.”  The arc of progress has transformed: new modes of time, technology, and reading and writing are creating a faster world where we know less about more – and forget what we know ever more quickly.  (COMMUNICATION * THE AGE OF DISTRACTION) 
 
** Is The Internet Changing the Way You Think?  The Net’s Impact on Our Minds and Future.  Edited by John Brockman (NYC; www.edge.org).  NY: Harper Perennial, Jan 2011, 408p, $14.99pb.  A widely-known literary agent, editor, and creator of the Reality Club in 1981 (rebranded in 1997 as Edge), seeks to engage “the most complex and sophisticated minds” by posing an annual question.  The 2010 question on Internet impact resulted in 150 responses, largely 1-3 pages in length.  Thirty of these responses are briefly described in GFB (see Book of the Month, March 2011), including replies by Nicholar Carr, Clay Shirky, Richard Dawkins, Kevin Kelly, Martin Rees, William Calvin, Nassim Taleb, Helen Fisher, Couglas Rushkoff, Evgeny Morosov, Peter Schwartz, Howard Gardner, and Jaron Lanier.                                                                                        (COMMUNICATION * INTERNET)
 
* Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet.  William H. Davidow.  Harrison NY: Delphinium Books, Jan 2011, 240p, $27.95.  Co-author of The Virtual Corporation and former Silicon Valley executive (Intel, Hewlett-Packard, GE) warns that success of the Internet has also created a unique set of hazards, in effect overconnecting us.  Being overconnected tends to create systems that spin out of control and positive feedback that has largely negative consequences, e.g.: the connected age is seen as the ultimate root cause of the recent financial meltdown.  Thought contagions act to accelerate the downfall and make us permanently vulnerable to catastrophe.  Dangers can be reduced by proper regulation.                                                                     (COMMUNICATION * INTERNET)
 
* The Atlas of New LibrarianshipR. David Lankes (Assoc Prof of Information Studies, Director of the Library and Information Science Program, Syracuse U).  Cambridge: MIT Press (co-published with the Association of College and Research Libraries), April 2011, 243p, $55.  The library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. New librarianship will not be based on books and artifacts, but on knowledge and learning; its new mission will be to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.  As knowledge is created through conversation, new librarianship should approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they should seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.  To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map--a visual representation of the field with >140 Agreements and statements about librarianship--as a platform for networking and call to action.                                                           (COMMUNICATION * LIBRARIANSHIP RECONCEIVED)
 
* The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)Siva Vaidhyanathan (Prof of Media Studies and Law, U of Virginia).  Berkeley CA: U of California Press, March 2011, 265p, $26.95.  The mission of Google is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible”.  Vaidhyanathan exposes the dark side of our Google fantasies, the effect of Googlization on how we think, Google’s impact in China and increasing impact globally, growing resistance to Google expansion, why Google Book Search does not meet our needs, and questions about Google’s approach to intellectual property.   Topics include how Google came to rule the Web, universal surveillance and infrastructure imperialism, Googlization of knowledge and books, Googlization of higher education and students, information overload and the fracturing of knowledge, and the need for a healthy global public culture.  Concludes that we trust Google too much; rather, a truly universal and accessible Human Knowledge Project is proposed.  “We must demand more… (and) build systems that can serve us better.”  We can’t hope that some big, rich company will do it for us.
(COMMUNICATION * GOOGLE QUESTIONED)
 
* Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.  Devra Davis (Washington DC; Visiting Prof, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NYC; www.devradavis.com ).  NY: Dutton, Sept 2010/304p/$26.95.  Founding director of the toxicology and environmental studies board at the US National Academy of Sciences views cell phone radiation as “a national emergency.”  Cell phone usage has been shown to damage DNA, break down the brain’s defense, reduce sperm count, and increase memory loss, the risk of Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.  The growing brains of children make them especially vulnerable—and half of the world’s four billion cell phone users are under 20.  Shows how federal regulatory standards are set by the trillion-dollar cell phone industry, and how we can make safer cell phones. 
(HEALTH * CELL PHONE RADIATION * COMMUNICATIONS * CHILDREN)
 
*OECD Information Technology Outlook 2010Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Paris: OECD (dist by Brookings Institution Press), Nov 2010/325p/$137pb.  IT and the Internet are major drivers of research, innovation, growth, and social change.  The outlook for IT goods and service industries is good, despite the economic crisis. Analyzes trends in OECD country information and communication technology policies (ICTs).  Policy priorities focus on skills and employment, broadband diffusion, R&D, and venture finance. Also focuses on a major new emphasis on using ICTs to tackle environmental problems and climate change. 
(COMMUNICATION * INFOTECH: OECD OUTLOOK * OECD OUTLOOKS: INFOTECH)
 
* Virtually You: The Internet and the Fracturing of the Self.  Elias Aboujaoude, MD (psychiatrist, Stanford U; www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compulsive-acts).   NY: W. W. Norton, Feb 2011/352p/$26.95.  The Internet can enhance well-being, but many of us spend too much time online and are profoundly disturbed by doing so.  The Internet allows us to act with exaggerated confidence, sexiness, and charisma; this new self, our “e-personality,” manifests itself in every curt email we send, Facebook “friend” we make, and “buy now” button we click. Our e-personality traits seep offline, making us impatient, unfocused, and urge-driven even after we log off. [Also see The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (Norton, June 2010; GFB Book of the Month, July 2010).] 
(COMMUNICATION * SOCIETY AND INTERNET * INTERNET AND PERSONALITY * “e-PERSONALITY)
 
* What Is Happening To News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis of JournalismJack Fuller (Pulitzer-winning journalist; former editor and publisher, Chicago Tribune).  Chicago IL: U of Chicago Press: May 2010, 224p, $25.  Journalism has departed from its great tradition, due to mismatch between the new information age and the human brain wired for threats faced by our ancestors.  Draws on neuroscience to explain how information overload makes us more receptive to sensational news, which in turn rends ineffective professional journalism and reliance on expertise and authority.
(COMMUNICATION * JOURNALISM IN CRISIS * INFOGLUT AND JOURNALISM)
 
* You Are Not a Gadget: A ManifestoJaron Lanier (Berkeley CA; www.jaronlanier.com).  NY: Knopf, Jan 2010/224p/$25.  An inventor of virtual reality cautions that “Something started to go wrong with the digital revolution around the turn of the 21C,” when the web was flooded with “a torrent of petty designs called web 2.0,” ideally promoting radical freedom, but a freedom more for machines than people.  The “widespread practice of fragmenting, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction,” and the web has turned into an oppressive and conformist “hive mind.”  The great ecumenical promise of the early web has been superseded by a different faith known in its most florid form as the Singularity—a cult of self-abdication, embraced by those who aspire to inconsequentiality.  Some chapter topics: what is a person, an apocalypse of self-abdication, the noosphere, what money will be, possibilities for humanistic cloud economics, retropolis, and three possible future directions.  [Newsweek calls Lanier “the first great apostate of the Internet era” (18 Jan 2010,p63).] 
(COMMUNICATION * INTERNET QUESTIONED)
 
* Pitch Perfect: Communicating with Traditional and Social Media for Scholars, Researchers, and Academic Leaders. William Tyson (Morrison & Tyson Communications). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, May 2010, 176p, $19.95pb. A practical guide for scholars keen to communicate their knowledge and research to a wider public. On using traditional and digital media, and engaging with social media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, and wikis. Tyson has advised scholars and academic leaders on media relations for >30 years. An appendix lists key media in North America, Australia, and the UK.                         (COMMUNICATIONS * EDUCATION * METHODS)
 
** Communication Power.  Manuel Castells (Prof of Communication, USC; Distinguished Visiting Prof, MIT & Oxford U). NY: Oxford UP, Sept 2009/608p/$34.95. A leading communication theorist and author of The Information Age trilogy argues that power now lies in the hands of those who understand or control communication; also discusses the new network society of instant messaging, global media deregulation, the role of the Internet in the Obama campaign for president, media control in China and Russia, and the worldwide crisis of political legitimacy.       (COMMUNICATION * WORLD POLITICS)
 
* The Future of the Internet—and How To Stop It. Jonathan Zittrain (Prof of Law, Harvard U; co-director, Center for Internet & Society). Yale U Press, Feb 2009/352p/$17pb (hc, Sept 2008/$30). Explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity, revealing that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, it is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation and facilitating new kinds of control. This edition has a new Preface by the author and a new Foreword by Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School.
 (COMMUNICATION * INTERNET TROUBLE AHEAD)
 
** The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Nicholas Carr (Colorado). NY: W. W. Norton, June 2010/256p/$26.95. Author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World (Norton, Jan 2008), on impacts of the Internet revolution, explains the cultural consequences:  how the Net is rerouting our neural pathways, replacing the subtle mind of the book reader with the distracted mind of the screen watcher. See longer review as GFB Book of the Month, July 2010. (COMMUNICATION * INTERNET)
 
* Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Maggie Jackson (senior fellow, Center for Work-Life Policy, NYC). Amherst NY: Prometheus Books, Sept 2009/327p/$18pb (hardcover, 2008). Award-winning journalist laments that we have oceans of info at our disposal, yet we increasingly seek headlines on the run in our culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. In this hyper-mobile, cyber-centric, attention-deficit life, we are eroding our capacity for deep attention. In response, we need to shape skills of focus, awareness, and judgment.           (COMMUNICATION * INFOGLUT)
 
** Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace. Edited by Ronald Deibert (Director, Citizen Lab, U of Toronto), John Palfrey (Prof of Law, Harvard U), Rafel Rohozinski (SecDev Group), and Jonathan Zittrain (Prof of Law, Harvard U). Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, April 2010/656p/$25pb. A project from the Open Net Initiative, offering six substantial chapters on Internet control in Western and Eastern Europe, and shorter regional reports and country profiles. Finds that Internet filtering, censorship of Web content, and online surveillance are increasing in scale, scope, and sophistication in democratic and authoritarian countries. New techniques include targeted viruses, denial-of-service attacks, surveillance, take-down notices, stringent terms of usage policies, and national information strategies. Also see Access Controlled: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering (MIT, 2008).                                (COMMUNICATION * INTERNET FILTERING * OPEN NET INITIATIVE)
 
* World Wide Research: Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities. Edited by William H. Dutton (Director, Oxford Internet Institute) and Paul W. Jeffries (Director of IT, U of Oxford). Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, July 2010/424p/$33pb. Use of increasingly powerful and versatile computer-based and networked systems promises to change research activity as profoundly as the mobile phone, the Internet, and e-mail have changed everyday life.  Offers an overview of these new “e-Research” approaches, their ethical/legal/institutional implications, and how new networks of information and expertise can change what is observed. (SCIENCE * COMMUNICATION * RESEARCH AND INFOTECH)
 
* Cosmopolitan Communications: Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World. Pippa Norris (Lecturer in Comparative Politics, Harvard U) and Ronald Inglehart (U of Michigan; Director, World Values Survey). Cambridge U Press, Nov 2009/416p/$25.99. Will the growing flood of information from diverse channels generate cultural convergence around modern values? Is national diversity threatened? Using evidence from the World Values Survey of >90 societies, threats to cultural diversity are examined.
 (COMMUNICATIONS * CULTURAL DIVERSITY)
 
 
 
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