The New Media Invasion

Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake


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About the Book

From the 15th century until the mid–1990s, media based on the printed word—books, magazines, handbills, newspapers, and journals—dominated society. Today, an onslaught of digital media centered on the Internet is developing at a breathtaking pace, destabilizing the very idea of printed media and fundamentally reshaping our world in the process.
This study explores how Internet entities like Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google, and gadgets such as digital cameras, cell phones, video games, robots, drones, and all things MacIntosh have affected everything from the book industry and copyright law to how we conduct social relationships and consider knowledge. Including a chronology of significant events in the history of the digital explosion, this investigation of the often overlooked “shadow” side of new technology chronicles life during a radical societal shift and follows the process whereby one world disintegrates while another takes its place.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

John David Ebert is the author of four previous books and has published essays in such periodicals as the Antioch Review, Utne Reader, Parabola, and Whole Earth. He has also been a featured scholar on A&E’s Ancient Mysteries.

Bibliographic Details

John David Ebert
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6560-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8818-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Incipit      1

Incipit      1

Introduction to a Catastrophic Bifurcation      5

When Worlds Close Down

Extinction Event

The Internet vs. the Printing Press

The Internet and Radio


First, a Brief Note on the Self-Luminous Nature of the New Technologies      19


1., the Kindle and the Collapse of the Book Industry      29

Word vs. Byte

Not a Bookstore

A Transcendentalist Operation


Retrievals and Disappearances

2. YouTube and the Twilight of Copyright      40

Glass-Cased Installation

An Evanescent Horizon

Partial Objects

Electronic Decay Rate


Cultural Memory

Free Movies

The Gutenberg Episteme

Diasporic Public Spheres

The Hitler Parodies

3. On Facebook We’re All Being Flattened Together      53


The Mask Is Inimical to Facebook

You Have a

Friend Request

The Disappearance of Neighborhoods

The World Isn’t Flat, You Are

4. Wikipedia; or, The Catastrophe of Knowledge      61

Not an Encyclopedia

A Miniature History of the Book

Back to Wikipedia

Knowledge Crisis

Borges, Prophet of Wikipedia

Who Needs It?

5. WikiLeaks and the Death of Culture      78

Intelligible Sphere

Armor of Light

The Cultural Function of Secrets

Disrupting Culture

The Death of the Event

The Event That Never Happened

Information War

6. On the Metaphysics of Google Earth      93

Some Concluding Comments to Part I: A Miniature History of Capitalism (or, The Evolution of Aladdin’s Cave)      102


7. The Mythology and Metaphysics of the Macintosh      116

The Myth

The Commercial

The Subtle Body of the Text

Luminous Technology

The One Non-Negotiable Element of the Personal Computer

A Brief History of Invisible Worlds

Digital Hub

Subtle Matter in Cyberspace

8. Digital Photography and the End of the Visionary Image      126

The World’s First Photograph

Syncopated Images

A Confession

The Necessity of the Negative

Literal Images

Photographic Haiku

Edward Weston

Mapplethorpe’s Daydream

The Luminous Images of Edward Burtynsky

The Loss of Visionary Coherence

The Elimination of the Hand

Elegy for Analogue

9. How Cell Phones Disrupt the Flows      136



Human Prostheses of the Matrix

The Invasion

Disembodied Voices

10. The Killing Eye: Video Games, Surrogate Violence and the Dismantling of Social Machines      145

Prophet of the Labyrinth

Decoding the Flows

The Individual as Epic Hero

Grand Theft Auto and J.G. Ballard

World of Warcraft: Hell Is Other People

11. Robots, Drones and the Disappearance of the Human Being      156

How Drones Retrieve Aristotelian Physics

Video Game Training

The Eye of Horus

Heroic Age

The Two Revolutions Become One

The Equation

Facts and Figures

The Superfluous Human

The Hive Society

12. A Few Words on the Ovei Pod and the End of History      165

Electronic Isolation Tank

The Bygone Age of the Macrosphere

The Personal (and Very Private) Microsphere

Some Concluding Comments to Part II: A Miniature History of War and Technology (Since 1815)      172

Postscript on the Dialectic of Art and Technology      187

Appendix: Chronology of Key Events      195

Notes      201

Bibliography      207

Index      211