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Edited Clean Version

Technology and the Culture of Control

2009
Author:

Raiford Guins

Edited Clean Version

Where is censorship in the age of digital technology?

Not long ago it would have been an absurd idea to purchase a television, CD or MP3 or DVD player, computer software, or game console with the intention of limiting its capabilities. However, as Raiford Guins demonstrates in Edited Clean Version, today’s media technology is marketed and sold for what it does not contain and what it will not deliver.

Guins has produced a cutting-edge cultural study of the ways that censorship has evolved in the multimedia era.

Choice

Not long ago it would have been an absurd idea to purchase a television, CD or MP3 or DVD player, computer software, or game console with the intention of limiting its capabilities. However, as Raiford Guins demonstrates in Edited Clean Version, today’s media technology is marketed and sold for what it does not contain and what it will not deliver.

TVs equipped with V-chips, Internet filters, editing DVD players, clean-version CDs and MP3s, and game consoles with parental control features can block out, monitor, disable, and filter information. As Guins argues in this provocative book, consumers now find themselves in new relationships with their everyday media in which they inscribe their viewing, listening, and playing experiences with self-prescribed and technologically enabled values and morals. Censorial practices are not so much enacted on media by regulatory bodies today as they are in our media technology.

According to Guins, these new “control technologies” are designed to embody an ethos of neoliberal governance—through the very media that have been previously presumed to warrant management, legislation, and policing. Repositioned within a discourse of empowerment, security, and choice, the action of regulation, he reveals, has been relocated into the hands of users.

Edited Clean Version

Raiford Guins is assistant professor of digital cultural studies in the Department of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies and Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture, and Technology (cDACT) at SUNY Stony Brook. He is a founding principal editor for the Journal of Visual Culture.

Edited Clean Version

Guins has produced a cutting-edge cultural study of the ways that censorship has evolved in the multimedia era.

Choice

The meaning of ‘no’—apparently unknown tot some toddlers in grocery carts at your supermarket—is a word that Raiford Guins argues has become ingrained in our 21st century media consumer culture. Parenting has not gotten any easier over time. But as Guins says with both a groan and a sneer in Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control, there are more tools to help with it.

Journal of Mass Media Ethics

This insightful exercise in censorial studies examines the elision between the watched and the watchers, the censors and the censored. Guins concludes that the cleaning and sanitizing process is quite ambiguous, controlling behavior as much as content, and much less straightforward than a simple rating or a default setting implies.

Technology and Culture

Overall, Edited Clean Version is provocative, timely and well-written. Furthermore, the argument of Edited Clean Version is compelling enough to suggest that the shift in censorial practices Guins theorises will continue to hold if not intensify in coming years, regardless of the longevity of the V-ship or of any of the specific technologies he addresses.

Journal of Popular Music

Guins provides a compelling look at the evolving institution of censorship. It is a wonderfully engaging, highly readable, and theoretically rich study that is both rigorously argued and accessible.

Science, Technology & Human Values

Edited Clean Version presents a compelling argument about the spread of control technologies into our homes and suggests the importance of this issue to everyone, not just the people who turn on their V-Chips.

H-Net Reviews

Overt censorship involves a battle for freedom of speech that most people think has been won. Subtle censorship may be more sinister. If Guins is correct, devices that we permit in our own homes may have a greater effect on ourselves and our neighbours, precisely because they involve technology that we falsely believe to be under our control.

The Innovation Journal

The bulk of Guin’s book is devoted to practices inside the home, and that’s where digital media changes the game, so to speak. His approach allows for an in-depth focus on a particular form of technology, and Guin’s examples are well thought-out and developed.

Rhizomes

Guins makes several important points and draws excellent theoretical connections.

Surveillance and Society

Edited Clean Version provides a highly readable and practical demonstration of the potential Gilles Deleuze’s short writings on the culture of control have for analysing and engaging with contemporary media technologies.

Media International Australia

The basic argument in Raiford Guins’ Edited Clean Version is so striking in its simplicity but aptness that my copy of the book is now filled with exclamation marks and other scribblings in the margins that shout how I loved it. At times dense but elegantly written, I am so tempted to say that this is the direction where media studies should be going if it did not sound a bit too grand (suitable for a blurb at the back cover perhaps!).

jussiparikka.net