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Networks without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media [Paperback]

Geert Lovink

Price: £16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Feb 2012
With the vast majority of Facebook users caught in a frenzy of ‘friending’, ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’, at what point do we pause to grasp the consequences of our info–saturated lives? What compels us to engage so diligently with social networking systems? Networks Without a Cause examines our collective obsession with identity and self–management coupled with the fragmentation and information overload endemic to contemporary online culture. With a dearth of theory on the social and cultural ramifications of hugely popular online services, Lovink provides a path–breaking critical analysis of our over–hyped, networked world with case studies on search engines, online video, blogging, digital radio, media activism and the Wikileaks saga. This book offers a powerful message to media practitioners and theorists: let us collectively unleash our critical capacities to influence technology design and workspaces, otherwise we will disappear into the cloud. Probing but never pessimistic, Lovink draws from his long history in media research to offer a critique of the political structures and conceptual powers embedded in the technologies that shape our daily lives.

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"Geert Lovink is one of the most brilliant and original theorists around today … This is a highly engaging book, packed thick with arguments … Every word Lovink writes elicits a response." The Huffington Post "This book offers a number of strong points which help to regain focus on establishing and nurturing much–needed alternative networks." Neural "Makes a unique contribution by effectively capturing the technological specificities of Web 2.0 amidst the larger issues of technocapitalism, while not erasing possibilities for organization and change." Mobile Media and Communication "Geert Lovink is our Tin Tin. Like that canny adventurer, he travels the world discovering new frontiers of both folly and invention. In place of Tin Tin′s trusty dog Snowy, he takes with him a quick wit and independent mind. He has a detective′s eye for the real story behind the bright assurances of twenty–first–century networked culture." McKenzie Wark, Professor of Culture and Media, The New School, and author of Gamer Theory "This book proposes a new kind of memory for the computer: counter–memory, revisiting recent pasts, deep presents and near–miss futures, always challenging us to ask of, and to invent, the nature of networks." Matthew Fuller, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

About the Author

Geert Lovink is director of the Institute of Network Cultures at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, teaches in the new media program at the University of Amsterdam and is media theory professor at the European Graduate School.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The information age 18 May 2012
By Damaskcat - Published on Amazon.com
What effect does all the information available on the internet have on us? How do we deal with information overload and why do we keep adding friends on Facebook? This book is a fascinating study of the information age and how much of ourselves we give away in our online presence without even thinking about it. It looks at the anonymity of the web and the way people can develop multiple online personas as well as discussing the meaning and effect of online comments on articles such as news stories.

The book is aimed more at the media student than at the general reader but anyone who wants to start thinking critically about what they do online will find the book of relevance to them and their lives. I was fascinated by the insight it gave me into the way different countries use blogs. Germany, for example, hasn't taken to blogging but Iraq - think Salam Pax - has seen blogging as a way to get the voice of ordinary people in the country heard by the rest of the world.

The chapter on internet criticism will be of interest to anyone who reads or writes reviews and it makes valid points about the value of the generalist reviewer. It also suggests that perhaps we have lost sight of the good points of specialist reviewers. Virginia Woolf's 1939 comment about a reviewer being `a louse' should not be forgotten here.

The book concludes with an interesting chapter about Wikileaks and suggests that the important thing about it is that the principle is here to stay `until it either scuttles itself or is destroyed by opposing forces'. I found the book interesting and well written.

There are comprehensive notes on the text and a select bibliography though there is no index in the paperback edition which I have.
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