- Series: Culturetexts
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 15, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312172370
- ISBN-13: 978-0312172374
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,105,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Digital Delirium (Culturetexts)
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Digital Delirium is written like a jazz album, with freeform narrative drifting around solid ideological structures the way that jazz improvisations run figures around fundamental themes. St. Martin's Press describes the book as "a manifesto against the right-wing politics of cyberlibertarianism." That's certainly a big part of this book. The contributors devote much of their efforts to examining the social and ethical structures of a wired world. But more than that, Digital Delirium revels in taking readers to places where they can view the whole world of cyberspace from new perspectives.
Science fiction writer Bruce Sterling looks into the myth of the Cyberpunk Hacker Hero and proves that it's about as substantial as Spider-Man. Paul Virilio observes how cyberspace splits an individual into a physical being and a ghostly other being that can be dramatically involved with others at a distance. There's a mocking quality to the whole book that practically defies readers to take themselves or the grand pronouncements about cyberutopian thinking too seriously.
While some contributors, such as Sterling, make their points through witty rants, others express themselves through poetry, literary prose, or even screenplays. This is a through-the-looking-glass examination of how technology affects society. Each article in the collection is food for hours of late-night conversation.
From the Back Cover
30 Cyber-Days in San Francisco
Digital Delirium writes the streets of San Francisco as a way of talking about the ambiguous legacy of wired culture.
Digital Delirium interviews R.U. Sirius, Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrillard, and Slavoj Zizek, and includes a state of the digital union address by Bruce Sterling.
The 90s began with a blast of techno-utopianism, but it will end with slow suicide in the surplus streets. Net Politics is the story of the 90s as a radically split reality: surplus class and virtual class, surplus flesh and virtual flesh, separate and digitally unequal.
The Global Algorithm
What is gained and what is lost by being digital? What do we see when we look in the digital mirror: Future-Fallout or Net-Utopia? Digital ears and diamond eyes or real blood and guts?
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While it was not hard to derive some practical knowledge and advice from the book's material, a few select authors nevertheless ventured into a realm of dialogue that seemed designed more for bewilderment and confusion than clarity and understanding. In reading some of the blueprints for futuristic societies as described by Marcos Novak, Paolo Atzori, and a host of others, I found it difficult to figure if they were being literal, speaking metaphorically, or just pulling my chain. In spite of this problem, there were three consistencies that I deciphered as fundamental beliefs that editors Arthur and Marilouise Kroker hoped to convey by virtue of the articles published in their book. First is the danger or right-wing politics and government regulation of the Internet and global communication. Second is the contradictory and thereby self-defeating intellectual arguments taken by those who fear or oppose cybertechnology. Finally, there is the sense that the new Information Age has been overrated in terms of its impact and importance, and that the authors are merely practicing cynicism as they patronizingly amuse and augment the curiosity of their brainwashed readers with the book's technoscopic subject matter.
The published writings can be taken collectively as a "manifesto in contention against right-wing politics and cyberlibertarianism" that threaten the functioning use of the Internet as a democratic tool for all individuals. Humanists like Slavoj Zizek and Robert Adrian, in conjunction with patronizing skeptics such as R.U. Sirius and Jean Baudrillard proclaim the imminent dangers to our basic freedoms if global communication is used by a group of elitists to manipulate minds and disperse propaganda to credulous and unsuspecting victims. I whole-heartedly agree on this standpoint. However, I was disheartened at the general consensus among the writers that religions, in particular Fundamental Christianity and Catholicism, are examples of these deceiving congregations that serve only to indoctrinate their followers into a state of mind incapable of independent thought. There is wonder and excitement to be had with the possibilities presented by technological breakthroughs, but there is also great sadness where secular principles such as materiality and profitability proceed to make one a godless creature; indeed, one can be too intellectual for his own good.
In presenting written arguments against the implementation of worldwide networks and open systems, Kroker cleverly reveals a contradiction that makes the dissenters' case less credible. For example, Berhnard Serexhe states in no uncertain terms that interactive communications will function as a powerful economic / marketing tool that will attempt to homogenize consumers, erase multiculturalism, and spell the end of European cultural identity. Geert Lovink and Slavoj Zizek counter this fear with the contradicting apprehension felt by right-wing nationalists who prefer homogeneity (as long as it is with their belief system) versus diversity but consider the Internet as a method of introducing foreign influences into their temporal mainstream. Which is it? Will we be subject to pan-capitalism and global marketing aspiring to create an online society with unvarying tastes and cultural preferences? Or will an autonomous Internet open the gates to individualism and encourage worldwide diversity at the expense of segregated nationalistic esteem? Perhaps there is a point to the cynical undertone evident throughout "Digital Delirium." Not only are the pessimists getting worked up over nothing, but cybertech industry proponents themselves cannot distinguish science fiction from reality in their speculative prognostications of where technological advancements will take us as a community. As manifested by the Critical Art Ensemble, too many so-called information age innovations and products serve no practical purpose, are underutilized, or are presently unavailable to much of the world. This somewhat fits in with my own conjecture. The true dynamic puissance of global networking on both societal and business organizations cannot be unerringly measured or estimated until we experience real global accessibility. Worldwide interconnectivity in an absolute sense is has not yet been achieved; as such, depictions of futuristic societies, technological advancements, and networking potentials remain a subject of contemplation. It is in this ambience that the contents of "Digital Delirium" should be read and analyzed.