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Living on Cybermind: Categories, Communication, and Control (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies)

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0820495132
ISBN-10: 0820495131
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Author: Jonathan Paul Marshall has an M.A. (Hons) and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Sydney. He has been an Australian Research Council Research Fellow at the Transforming Cultures Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, working on a project on online gender. Some publications include: «Cybermind: Paradoxes of Gender and Relationship in an Online Group», in Samantha Holland (ed.), Remote Relationships in a Small World (Peter Lang, forthcoming); «Categories, Gender and Online Community» in E-Learning, 3(2); «Negri, Hardt, Distributed Governance and Open Source Software» in Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies 3(1); and «The Sexual Life of Cyber-Savants» in The Australian Journal of Anthropology 14(2). Marshall has also written on the historical relationship between the occult and science and technology. His next project involves the exploration of the relationship between modes of ordering and modes of disruption, focusing on the use of information technology.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies (Book 24)
  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. (August 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820495131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820495132
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,113,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Marshall on October 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
So the review is biased, but I've given it a 5 to counter the previous reviewer, who did say "it might deserve four stars for what it did do".

So that people know what the book is about, I will briefly describe it (a fuller description, including pointers to other reviews, and a list of my other writings, which might help you decide if you want to read it) can be found at uts.academia.edu/jonmarshall

The book is an anthropologically based, participant observation ethnography of an internet mailing list, based on 10+ years of encounter. It gives detailed accounts of various events on the List in order to interpret them theoretically. Hopefully the theories should have wider application than just for this group.

Some of the theories invoked investigate:

a) The effects of the structures of communication, and how different kinds of internet forum enable and restrict different kinds of activities and power.
b) The role of external offline categories in influencing the kinds of ways that people make sense of what other people are doing. Hence the idea of an internet free of offline ideas of gender, race, politics and nation cannot be sustained.
c) The existential problems arising from the vagueness of presence online. Online presence, especially in a list, is suspended between presence and absence, and your being is only confirmed by the response of others. This kind of oscillating presence I have called 'asence'. I try to use asence to explore ideas about the online body and netsex amongst other things.
d) The ways that people resolve communication and how this can lead to conflict. Communication is not an unalloyed good, and more of it will not necessarily lead to peace or understanding.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book in the library and thought it might be helpful for some research I'm conducting. The book wasn't what I hoped for. But, given that, it might deserve four stars for what it did do.

The author gives a painfully detailed description of Cybermind-an online community. The book details the political rants, sexist rants, and community building antics of Cybermind. The reader gets a behind the scenes examination into this online community and the resultant relationships that are established between the members. Excerpts of conversations (petty, boring, and sometimes interesting) are quoted.

This book's audience is a lay audience of people who are interested in online communities, friendships, communication, and the like. I didn't find any sections useful for my undergrads, but maybe a communications professor would?
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