Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture

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According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.In Dark Fiber, Lovink combines aesthetic and ethical concerns and issues of navigation and usability without ever losing sight of the cultural and economic agendas of those who control hardware, software, content, design, and delivery. He examines the unwarranted faith of the cyber-libertarians in the ability of market forces to create a decentralized, accessible communication system. He studies the inner dynamics of hackers' groups, Internet activists, and artists, seeking to understand the social laws of online life. Finally, he calls for the injection of political and economic competence into the community of freedom-loving cyber-citizens, to wrest the Internet from corporate and state control.The topics include the erosion of email, bandwidth for all, the rise and fall of dot-com mania, techno-mysticism,sustainable social networks, the fight for a public Internet time standard, the strategies of Internet activists, mailing list culture, and collaborative text filtering. Stressing the importance of intercultural collaboration, Lovink includes reports from Albania, where NGOs and artists use new media to combat the country's poverty and isolation; from Taiwan, where the September 1999 earthquake highlighted the cultural politics of the Internet; and from Delhi, where a new media center explores free software, public access, and Hindi interfaces.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"... A unique contribution to the field...not to be missed." J.

Macgregor Wise Journal of Communication

"... Geert Lovink warns that government and corporations are shutting down the culture of dissent that is the Net's true value." Paul Boutin Wired

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Geert Lovink is an independent media theorist and net critic. He is the founder of nettime mailing lists, a member of Adilkno, and a cofounder of the online community server Digital City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Twilight of the Digirati 2
Essay on Speculative Media Theory (1996) 22
Portrait of the Virtual Intellectual (1997) 30
Case Studies
The Digital City - Metaphor and Community (2001) 42
The Moderation Question: Nettime and the Boundaries of Mailing List Culture (2001) 68
Crystals of Net Criticism
Language? No Problem (1996) 122
A Push Media Critique (1997) 130
Mass Psychology of the Net: A Proposal (1998) 136
Net.Times, Not Swatch Time: 21st-Century Global Time Wars (1998) 142
Fragments of Network Criticism (1999) 160
Sweet Erosions of Email (2000) 176
Culture after the Final Breakdown: Tirana, Albania, May 1998 (1998) 182
The 9/21 Aftershocks: Taiwan, December 1999 (1999) 194
At the Opening of New Media Centre Sarai: Delhi, February 2001 (2001) 204
Dynamics of Net Culture
Radical Media Pragmatism (1998) 218
Network Fears and Desires (1998) 226
An Early History of 1990s Cyberculture (1999) 234
The Importance of Meetspace: On Conferences and Temporary Media Labs (2000) 240
An Insider's Guide to Tactical Media (2001) 254
Reality Check
Organized Innocence and War in the New Europe: Adilkno, Culture, and the Independent Media (1995) 276
Soros and the NGO Question, or The Art of Being Independent (1997) 296
Information Warfare: From Propaganda Critique to Culture Jamming (1998) 306
Kosovo: War in the Age of Internet (1999) 318
Towards a Political Economy
Cyberculture in the Dotcom Age (2000) 330
The Rise and Fall of Dotcom Mania (2001) 348
Hi-Low: The Bandwidth Dilemma, or Internet Stagnation after Dotcom Mania (2001) 370
Bibliography 380
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