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Book Out: Digital Condition (Polity Press)

9 January, 2018 - 10:59

I'm very happy my new book (a translation of Kultur der Digitalität) will be published by Polity Press later this month.

In the book I argue that referentiality, communality, and algorithmicity have become the characteristic cultural forms of the digital condition because more and more people – in more and more segments of life and by means of increasingly complex technologies – are actively (voluntarily and/or compulsorily) participating in the negotiation of social meaning. They are thus reacting to the demands of a chaotic, overwhelming sphere of information and thereby contributing to its greater expansion. It is the ubiquity of these cultural forms that makes it possible to speak of the digital condition in the singular.

The goals pursued in these cultural forms, however, are as diverse, contradictory, and conflicted as society itself. It would therefore be equally false to assume uniformity or an absence of alternatives in the unfolding of social and political developments. On the contrary, the idea of a lack of alternatives is an ideological assertion that is itself part of a specific political agenda. Indeed, advanced democracies are faced with a profound choice, to continue their long slide towards post-democratic authoritarianism or reinvent democracy for the digital condition.

You can get it from the publisher (UK, US), from Amazon (UK, US), or you local bookseller (UK, US).

The great cover image is by the Dutch artist Bernaut Smilde, from the series Nimbus, Probe #6, 2010.

"absolutely insightful" a very positive review by Guido Koller for Collaborative Digital History

"This book combines the scale and depth of Manuel Castells's research, with that astonishingly revealing vision of a Zygmunt Bauman," writes Pau Todo in his review on Good Reads.

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We Are All Bruno! From Unease with Technology to Empathy with Nature

4 January, 2018 - 11:48

Guerilla Girls, 1989
Monkey Selfie, 2011

It’s no good. The horse has bolted. The tipping point has been reached. The digital condition now shapes our lives. In the early 1960s Marshall McLuhan noted the demise of the ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’, which is to say, that epoch of (Western) culture decisively shaped by the printed word; and there is no mistaking, now, what has taken its place: a new condition – i.e. ‘forms of experience, philosophical viewpoint, and expression’– defined by the ubiquitous presence and inherent potential of networked communications and control. It is thereby incidental whether, or how, one uses these technologies oneself, for they have become part and parcel of everyday infrastructure, in similarity to other networks, such as power and water supply, or transport systems. Were any one of these to suddenly break down, our lives would change in a flash – and not for the better.

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Wir alle sind Bruno! Vom Unbehagen mit der Technologie zur Empathie mit der Natur.

4 January, 2018 - 11:32

Es hilft nichts. Der Zug ist abgefahren, der Kipppunkt überschritten. Die Kultur der Digitalität ist die Form unseres Lebens. Nachdem Marshall McLuhan bereits Anfang der 1960er Jahre das Ende der ‹Gutenberg Galaxis› – also jener kulturellen Epoche (des Westens), die vom Buchdruck massgeblich mitgeprägt war – festgestellt hat, ist heute recht deutlich, was denn an ihre Stelle tritt. Eine Kultur, ‹Formen der Erfahrung, der geistigen Anschauungsweise und des Ausdrucks›, die geprägt ist von der Allgegenwart und den damit einhergehenden Möglichkeiten vernetzter Kommunikation und Steuerung. Dabei spielt es keine entscheidende Rolle ob, oder wie man selbst diese Technologien nützt. Sie sind zur Infrastruktur des täglichen Lebens geworden, ähnlich wie andere Netze: Strom, Wasser oder Strassen. Würde eines davon plötzlich ausfallen, unser Leben würde sich schlagartig verändern. Und nicht zum Guten.

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