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Networks without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media Paperback – 21 Feb 2012
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This book is a cutting-edge critical analysis of our contemporary networked world. Why are so many people so obsessed with social network sites like Facebook? Lovink dissects our collective obsession with identity and self-management together with the fragmentation and information overload endemic to contemporary online culture.
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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.