Information Please

Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines

Information Please

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 22 illustrations Published: August 2006

Author: Mark Poster

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Digital Media, Sociology > Social Theory

Information Please advances the ongoing critical project of the media scholar Mark Poster: theorizing the social and cultural effects of electronically mediated information. In this book Poster conceptualizes a new relation of humans to information machines, a relation that avoids privileging either the human or the machine but instead focuses on the structures of their interactions. Synthesizing a broad range of critical theory, he explores how texts, images, and sounds are made different when they are mediated by information machines, how this difference affects individuals as well as social and political formations, and how it creates opportunities for progressive change.

Poster’s critique develops through a series of lively studies. Analyzing the appearance of Sesame Street’s Bert next to Osama Bin Laden in a New York Times news photo, he examines the political repercussions of this Internet “hoax” as well as the unlimited opportunities that Internet technology presents for the appropriation and alteration of information. He considers the implications of open-source licensing agreements, online personas, the sudden rise of and interest in identity theft, peer-to-peer file sharing, and more. Focusing explicitly on theory, he reflects on the limitations of critical concepts developed before the emergence of new media, particularly globally networked digital communications, and he argues that, contrary to the assertions of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, new media do not necessarily reproduce neoimperialisms. Urging a rethinking of assumptions ingrained during the dominance of broadcast media, Poster charts new directions for work on politics and digital culture.


Information Please offers a fascinating look at the socio-cultural impact of technology, valuably focused on the materiality of that technology and its concomitant shifts, rather than falling into the proselytising abstractness that characterises so much work on the ‘virtual’.” — Kelly McWilliam, M/C Reviews

“[A]n ambitious merging of cultural theory and new media implications. . . . The questions raised . . . are critical to our understanding of media and the future of our democracy.” — Cindy Royal, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator

“This book is a welcome publication. It proposes new directions for studying the information transference mediated by digital media, and can inspire the reader to look beyond the confinement of current theories, and explore new challenges and significance in the age of digital machines.” — Chong Han, Discourse & Society

“A suitable read for anyone interested in new media, cultural studies, or their interactions, Poster’s Information Please provides a fresh and germane study of the digitalization of humans and their various cultures by new media and technology. . . . [T]hose who have appreciated Poster’s three previous books will find ‘version 4.0’ a worthy and insightful update to the collection.” — Joe Erickson, Technology and Culture

“Against the many pessimistic left intellectuals, Poster’s work is a call for social theorists to focus more on the transforming possibilities and realities of digital media. As such, Poster’s series of essays that make up his latest book offers yet another of his provocative and important interventions in critical theory, one that is bound to advance not only the field of ‘new media’ studies in particular but social theory in general.” — Lincoln Dahlberg, Thesis Eleven

“Poster possesses the rare gift of translating esoteric theoretical debates into lucid, engaging and enjoyable prose. Complex controversies about new media are dissected and clarified with refreshing wit and verve.” — Critical Sociology

“Poster’s discussion is provocative and intellectually stimulating. The study’s findings have important implications for those who teach and conduct research at the juncture of politics and the modern media. Poster’s book should prove particularly useful to graduate students who seek to broaden their understanding of the digital media and its impact on society.” — A.E. Wohlers, Perspectives on Political Science

“Poster’s fascinating book . . . opens up stimulating perspectives for the study of digital culture, with its materiality, its politics and its ‘global but local’ situatedness.” — Federica Frabetti, Culture Machine

“The book is intriguing in the breadth of theories and media it takes on. It is also an important work for the same reason. . . . Information Please should be on the reading list of media studies scholars and pundits, as well as inquisitive interlopers.” — Jonathan Lillie, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

“The real joy in reading Poster is the examples from popular media in order develop, and blend various social theories. scholars do this, but Poster’s particular skill forms, of identities, and of discourses. . . . The strength of this mode of writing is its approachability. . . . Whether or not you agree with Poster’s arguments, he clearly states the need for social theory to engage with media and with networked technologies. And that in itself is a great contribution.” — Matt Ratto, Information Society

”There is no doubt Mark Poster is one of the most important American theorists of the digital information age.” — Diana Bossio, Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies

“Engaging, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable, Information Please is a tour de force in its clear articulation of a coherent approach to the spectrum of issues arising from the penetration of information technology into every aspect of human life, from questions of global politics to the construction and protection of identities and selves in the context of digital media.” — Tim Lenoir, Kimberly J. Jenkins Professor of New Technologies and Society, Duke University

“Mark Poster has been one of the foremost scholars of global digital culture over the past decades. Information Please, probably his best and most advanced book to date, continues his project of using contemporary theory to interrogate new media and new media to illustrate and critique certain forms of theory.” — Douglas Kellner, coauthor of The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mark Poster is Professor of History and of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. His many books include What’s the Matter with the Internet?; Cultural History and Postmodernity; The Second Media Age; and The Mode of Information.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

I. Global Politics and New Media

1. Perfect Transmissions: Evil Bert laden 9

2. Postcolonial Theory and Global Media 26

3. The Information Empire 46

4. Citizens, Digital Media, and Globalization 67

II. The Culture of the Digital Self

5. Identity Theft and Media 87

6. The Aesthetics of Distracting Media 116

7. The Good, the Bad, and the Virtual 139

8. Psychoanalysis, the Body, and Information Machines 161

III. Digital Commodities in Everyday Life

9. Who Controls Digital Culture? 185

10. Everyday (Virtual) Life 211

11. Consumers, Users and Digital Commodities 231

12. Future Advertising: Dick’s Ubik and the Digital Ad

Conclusion 267

Notes 269

References 281

Index 299
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3839-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3801-7
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