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Evolution for the Digital Natives...
on 2 March 2011
Having been little more than a handbook for budding marketeers interested in the methods for exploiting online communities relating to Big Commerce for most of its length, this book transforms into an intelligent analysis of the more silly claims made about the role of the internet in culture and politics once it reaches Chapter 6 (Photoshop for Democracy). It is here that Jenkins' real targets are seen: those overplaying the hand that says the Internet represents grassroots opinion forming, and lays bare how this opportunity to ignore those without political power or financial muscle is patronised and elided by a fear that the mob may have something uncomfortable to say. It is a jumbled thesis to be sure: does the guy saying 'F*ck you, CNN' represent the success or failure of YouTube in empowering ordinary people to take direct part in democracy? Is the Internet just another corporate medium that chucks people out of proprietary cyberspace apps, or linked to the uncontrollable possibility that a savvy public might use its freeedom to hack an application, making it usable for their needs rather than engineers' conceptions of them?
This is not to say this is anything but an informative book, best read by your web connection to check out the examples Jenkins gives(these are much better than in most books of this ilk). Those with an interest in tying in web behaviour to cultural production will find it indispensible. In the end, it is like the Internet itself, in that it is not possible to characterise the behaviours and manifestations in any way that could give us a consistent view of the value of a still evolving technology framework.