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
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