The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine

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Overview

The computer, writes Peter Lunenfeld, is the twenty-first century's culture machine.

It is a dream device, serving as the mode of production, the means of distribution, and the site of reception. We haven't quite achieved the flying cars and robot butlers of futurist fantasies, but we do have a machine that can function as a typewriter and a printing press, a paintbrush and a gallery, a piano and a radio, the mail as well as the mail carier. But, warns Lunenfeld, we should temper our celebration with caution; we are engaged in a secret war between downloading and uploading—between passive consumption and active creation—and the outcome will shape our collective futures.In The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading, Lunenfeld makes his case for using digital technologies to shift us from a consumption to a production model. He describes television as the "the high fructose corn syrup of the imagination" and worries that it can cause "cultural diabetes"; prescribes mindful downloading, meaningful uploading, and"info-triage" as cures; and offers tips for crafting "bespoke futures" in what he terms the era of "Web n.0" (interconnectivity to the nth power). He also offers a stand-alone genealogy of digital visionaries, distilling a history of the culture machine that runs from the Patriarchs (Vannevar Bush's WWII generation) to the Hustlers (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) to the Searchers (Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google fame). After half a century of television-conditioned consumption/downloading, Lunenfeld tells us, we now find ourselves with a vast new infrastructure for uploading. We simply need to find the will to make the best of it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a relatively short, deftly written and attractively published book… Ihaven't come across a better book on this general topic, or a potentially more influential one" —William Kowinski, North CoastJournal

"Well known as one of the best analysts of digital culture, he opens here a certain number of historical, cultural, political, and ideological questions that make this book a real must-read for all those looking for new answers to the problems that modern technoculture has been facing..." — Jan Baetans, LeonardoOnline

"The Secret War Between Uploading and Downloading by Peter Lunenfeld is the most insightful work on web realpolitik I've read in a couple of years.His analysis/analogy of how ideas emerge to take hold of public discourse and then fade again, based on the Gestalt notion of"figure/ground" (you'll get it when you read it...) has altered the way I see the webworld, and will significantly change the way I talk to clients about what's going on out there."- TheStrategy Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262015479
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Lunenfeld is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA and the author of User: InfoTechnoDemo, Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures, andThe Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as CultureMachine, all published by the MIT Press.

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