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Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4968-9
220 pages
March 2012, Polity
Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media (0745649688) cover image
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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Acknowledgements
Introduction: Capturing Web 2.0 Before its
Disappearance
Psychopathology of Information Overload
Facebook, Anonymity and the Crisis of the Multiple Self
Treatise on Comment Culture
Disquisition on Internet Criticism
Media Studies - Diagnostics of a Failed Merger
Society of the Query: The Googlization of our Lives
Online Video Aesthetics or the Art of Watching
Databases
Blog Theory after the Hype
Three Blogospheres: Germany, France, Iraq
Radio after Radio: From Pirate to Internet Experiments
Techno-Politics at Wikileaks
Organizing Networks in Culture and Politics
Bibliography
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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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  • 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.
  • The book includes case studies of search engines, online video, blogging, digital radio, media activism and the Wikileaks saga.
  • The author is widely regarded as one of the leading theorists of new media and the internet.
  • This book will appeal to all students of new media and the internet, media theory and media studies.
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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

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