front cover of Was
Annales Nomadique: A Novel Of Internet
Michael Joyce
University of Alabama Press, 2007
A post-cyber “Pilgrim’s Progress.

Was is half-poem, half-narrative, a nomadic history whose main character is the fleetingness of information itself. The novel’s title figure, the word was, marks that instant of utterance outside the present; neither past nor future but rather the interstitial space of any telling. Like Ariel in flight, Was takes place before you can say ‘come’ and ‘go,'" slipping away before you can "breath twice and cry ‘so, so."

The nomadic lovers here, as any lovers, attempt to linger in the afterglow of what was, but it slips away like mist. Story begets story as if without author, events gathering into one another, as much memory as dream, their locales literally moving across the face of the globe. Continent to continent, from hemisphere to hemisphere, synaptic episodes strobe across the earth’s surface like thunderstorms seen from a satellite. Yet in these brief flashes a memorable and deeply moving procession of characters passes in vignette: lovers and children, parents and refugees, sailors, missionaries, clowns, mourners, forlorn warriors, sweet singers.

Was is a brilliant new work by the author of afternoon, a story which the New York Times calls "the granddaddy of hypertext fictions"and the Toronto Globe and Mail describes as being "to the hypertext interactive novel what the Gutenberg bible is to publishing."


front cover of Web as History
Web as History
Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present
Edited by Niels Brügger and Ralph Schroeder
University College London, 2017
The World Wide Web has now been in use for more than 20 years. From early browsers to today’s principal source of information, entertainment and much else, the Web is an integral part of our daily lives, to the extent that some people believe ‘if it’s not online, it doesn’t exist.’ While this statement is not entirely true, it is becoming increasingly accurate, and reflects the Web’s role as an indispensable treasure trove. It is curious, therefore, that historians and social scientists have thus far made little use of the Web to investigate historical patterns of culture and society, despite making good use of letters, novels, newspapers, radio and television programmes, and other pre-digital artefacts. This volume argues that now is the time to question what we have learnt from the Web so far. The 12 chapters explore this topic from a number of interdisciplinary angles – through histories of national web spaces and case studies of different government and media domains – as well as an introduction that provides an overview of this exciting new area of research.

front cover of What’s the Matter with the Internet?
What’s the Matter with the Internet?
Mark Poster
University of Minnesota Press, 2001
A provocative investigation into the social and cultural implications of the Internet by a leading cultural critic. As the Internet has become more and more a part of our daily lives, responses to its impact on culture and society have tended toward the extremes, hopeful or pessimistic. Fears that the Internet undermines community, inhibits social interaction, exacerbates economic and racial divisions, and facilitates greater state or corporate intrusion into our lives are balanced by excitement about the transformative qualities of the new medium and its potential to stimulate individual creativity, inspire new social forms, and further democratization. In What's the Matter with the Internet?, leading cultural theorist Mark Poster offers a sophisticated and astute assessment of the potential the new medium has to redefine culture and politics. Avoiding the mindless hype and meaningless jargon that has characterized much of the debate about the future of the Web, he details what truly distinguishes the Internet from other media and the implications these novel properties have for such vital issues as authorship, national identity and global citizenship, the fate of ethnicity and race, and democracy. Arguing that the Internet demands a social and cultural theory appropriate to the specific qualities of cyberspace, Poster reformulates the ideas of thinkers associated with our understanding of postmodern culture and the media (including Foucault, Deleuze, Heidegger, Baudrillard, and Derrida) to account for and illuminate the virtual world, paying particular attention to its political dimensions and the nature of identity. In this innovative analysis, Poster acknowledges that although the colonization of the Internet by corporations and governments does threaten to retard its capacity to bring about genuine change, the new medium is still capable of transforming both contemporary social practices and the way we see the world and ourselves. Mark Poster is professor of history and director of the film studies program at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Cultural History and Postmodernity (1997), The Second Media Age (1995), and The Mode of Information (1990).

front cover of Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness
Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness
Nathaniel Tkacz
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Few virtues are as celebrated in contemporary culture as openness. Rooted in software culture and carrying more than a whiff of Silicon Valley technical utopianism, openness—of decision-making, data, and organizational structure—is seen as the cure for many problems in politics and business.
But what does openness mean, and what would a political theory of openness look like? With Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, Nathaniel Tkacz uses Wikipedia, the most prominent product of open organization, to analyze the theory and politics of openness in practice—and to break its spell. Through discussions of edit wars, article deletion policies, user access levels, and more, Tkacz enables us to see how the key concepts of openness—including collaboration, ad-hocracy, and the splitting of contested projects through “forking”—play out in reality.
The resulting book is the richest critical analysis of openness to date, one that roots media theory in messy reality and thereby helps us move beyond the vaporware promises of digital utopians and take the first steps toward truly understanding what openness does, and does not, have to offer.

front cover of Writing on the Social Network
Writing on the Social Network
Digital Literacy Practices in Social Media's First Decade
Amber M. Buck
Utah State University Press, 2023
Writing on the Social Network builds upon traditions in longitudinal writing research to present a longer view of the impact of social media technologies on individuals’ literacy practices. Amber M. Buck considers user experiences and digital literacy practices that developed on these platforms in the first decade of social media and calls for a larger acknowledgment of social network sites as locations where individuals engage in sophisticated and literate activity.
Through qualitative case study research, Buck explores how literate activities on social network sites coalesced around three areas crucial for writing in digital environments: (1) a heightened awareness of audience and an ability to tailor messages to specific audiences; (2) an understanding of how personal data is collected and circulated in online spaces; and (3) a means through which to use the first two skills for self-promotion and self-presentation in both personal and professional settings. She identifies several distinct literacy practices and strategies used by participants to communicate effectively and addresses how these strategies can help writing researchers and internet scholars understand the impact of social media’s first decade and can inform the ways they will research and understand social media’s second decade.
Social media platforms represent important locations where the different influences on writing become visible. Writing on the Social Network is a close study of the rich literate practices individuals have engaged in on social network sites over the last ten years that allows for a better understanding of the role social media plays in shaping digital literacy.

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