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What’s the Matter with the Internet?

2001
Author:

Mark Poster

What’s the Matter with the Internet?

A provocative investigation into the social and cultural implications of the Internet by a leading cultural critic.

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.

Poster’s analysis of this new invention is highly significant for anybody interested in the cultural, political, and even educational and informational impact of this medium. The nature of technology and its implications for an understanding of the Internet as a specific technical device and development amongst many others is explored in a very intelligent way.

Mousaion

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.


What’s the Matter with the Internet?

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).

What’s the Matter with the Internet?

Poster’s analysis of this new invention is highly significant for anybody interested in the cultural, political, and even educational and informational impact of this medium. The nature of technology and its implications for an understanding of the Internet as a specific technical device and development amongst many others is explored in a very intelligent way.

Mousaion

Enjoyable and challenging.

Afterimage

A thorough examination into the cultural challenge the Internet presents.

Rhetoric and Public Affairs

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.

tech directions

The author’s argument is driven by the conviction that the revolutionary potential of the new communication technologies (the Internet, in particular) has not yet received a proper recognition by both critical thinkers and cultural studies scholars. Poster argues that compared to the media ages of print and analogue electronic media, the Internet is radically underdetermined and that it underdetermines the stability of cultural objects and subjects. What’s the Matter with the Internet? does leave us with a clear theoretical grounding for new investigations, and a crucial understanding of the need to move away from instrumentalist understandings of new media and toward those approaches that combine a focus upon the specific materiality of new information technologies with an interest in the new cultures to which those technologies are giving birth.

Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies

What’s the Matter with the Internet?

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

ONE The Culture of Underdetermination
TWO The Bridge of Technologies
THREE Capitalism's Linguistic Turn
FOUR The Digital Subject and Cultural Theory
FIVE Authors Analogue and Digital
SIX Nations, Identities, and Global Technologies
SEVEN Theorizing the Virtual: Baudrillard and Derrida
EIGHT Virtual Ethnicity
NINE CyberDemocracy: Internet as a Public Sphere

Notes
References

Index