Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture

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MIT Press, 2003 - Computers - 382 pages
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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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Contents

Essay on Speculative Media Theory
23
Portrait of the Virtual Intellectual
31
Case Studies
42
The Digital CityMetaphor and Community
43
Nettime and the Boundaries of Mailing List Culture 2001
69
Crystals of Net Criticism
122
Language? No Problem 1996
123
A Push Media Critique 1998
131
Radical Media Pragmatism 1998
219
Network Fears and Desires 1998
227
An Early History of 1990s Cyberculture 1999
235
On Conferences and Temporary Media Labs 2000
241
An Insiders Guide to Tactical Media 2001
255
Reality Check
276
Adilkno Culture and the Independent Media 1995
277
Soros and the NGO Question or The Art of Being Independent 1997
297

A Proposal 1998
137
21stcentury Global Time Wars 1998
143
Fragments of Network Criticism 1999
161
Sweet Erosions of Email 2000
177
Travelogues
182
Culture after the Final Breakdown Tirana Albania May 1998 1998
183
Taiwan December 1999 1999
195
Delhi February 2001 2001
205
Dynamics of Net Culture
218
From Propaganda Critique to Culture Jamming 1998
307
War in the Age of Internet 1999
319
Towards a Political Economy
330
Cyberculture in the Dotcom Age 2000
331
The Rise and Fall of Dotcom Mania 2001
349
The Bandwidth Dilemma or Internet Stagnation after Dotcom Mania 2001
371
Bibliography
381
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About the author (2003)

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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