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Media Virus! Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture Paperback – February 6, 1996
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Have you ever noticed that the word "media" refers both to the tool for disseminating information in human societies as well as the substrate upon which geneticists grow bacteria and viruses? Rushkoff has written one of the more provocative and insightful analyses of the paths of conceptual infection in human media, and about the techniques and goals of those who spread media viruses. This fun, hip, yet insightful book is well worth buying.
The brilliant heir to McLuhan . . . Rushkoff is the first media theorist to emerge from the primordial soup of the datasphere instead of the hallowed stacks of the university library. -- New Perspectives Quarterly
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I am amazed at how the author ties the subjects of viral marketing, systems thinking, and chaos theory together in a seamless manner to thoroughly explain workings of the media and how it has evolved since inception. What is even more amazing is that this book is easy to understand, is entertaining to read and was written about 15 years ago. The author was well ahead of his time. Although this book is long at over 300 pages - it does take some level of commitment, but well worth the time and effort. This is the first book I have read by this author but look forward to reading others!
Rushkoff skillfully dissects such 'memes' as the O.J. Simpson trial, the Rodney King beating tape, and the pervasive influence of MTV editing. He finds Queer sexuality in 'Ren & Stimpy', social agendas with John Morgenthaler's 'Smart Drugs' campaign, and closes the book with an insightful and rare interview with the influential musician, raver, and performance artist Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Pigface, Thee Majesty).
Much of what Rushkoff has written has become de facto teaching within university media courses, and Rushkoff's insights have been clarified and commented upon by many other social theorists and cyberpunks. This is a valuable book because its accessible easy to read style makes it a good introduction to a field that many find foreboding, difficult or complex. Rushkoff is careful to include case-studies and examples such as detailed semiotic analysis of 'The Simpsons', and to provide the relevant historical and industry contexts. The book's influence can be seen by the prevalence of Madison Avenue techniques subsequent to the book's publication, and the popularity of mutant media.
Well worth checking out!
The book is said to have been "revised and updated" from a two-year's span by 1996 - even seems quite un-innovative even from that time, and most of the authors' analysis are nothing new. Rushkoff, although being quite informative nevertheless from time to time with the book only seem to mainly dwell on a surface level, when what we need is to see more of the primal motivating factors behind the dissemination of counter-culture trends and ideas which Rushkoff attempted to disseminate within the length of his work.
In a witty style, Rushkoff praises the MTV generation for their ability to do - and understand - more than one thing at a time. Written in 1994, the book's seems a bit dated in its predictions... and more than slightly optimistic in speculating about the liberating aspects of new media to resurrect the political passions of Americans. Media Virus remains an excellent overview of the tensions and possibilities that television presents for political activists.