The Digital Nexus
Identity, Agency, and Political Engagement
Over half a century ago, in The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), Marshall McLuhan noted that the overlap of traditional print and new electronic media like radio and television produced widespread upheaval in personal and public life:
“Even without collision, such co-existence of technologies and awareness brings trauma and tension to every living person. Our most ordinary and conventional attitudes seem suddenly twisted into gargoyles and grotesques. Familiar institutions and associations seem at times menacing and malignant. These multiple transformations, which are the normal consequence of introducing new media into any society whatever, need special study.”
The trauma and tension in the daily lives of citizens as described here by McLuhan was only intensified by the arrival of digital media and the Web in the following decades. The rapidly evolving digital realm held a powerful promise for creative and constructive good – a promise so alluring that much of the inquiry into this new environment focused on its potential rather than its profound impact on every sphere of civic, commercial, and private life. The totalizing scope of the combined effects of computerization and the worldwide network are the subject of the essays in The Digital Nexus, a volume that responds to McLuhan’s request for a “special study” of the tsunami-like transformation of the communication landscape.
These critical excursions provide analysis of and insight into the way new media technologies change the workings of social engagement for personal expression, social interaction, and political engagement. The contributors investigate the terms and conditions under which our digital society is unfolding and provide compelling arguments for the need to develop an accurate grasp of the architecture of the Web and the challenges that ubiquitous connectivity undoubtedly delivers to both public and private life.
Raphael Foshay has been teaching in Athabasca University’s MA Program in Integrated Studies since 2008. His interests lie principally in literary, cultural, and interdisciplinary theory. He has written on Derrida, Hegel, Heidegger, and Levinas, as well as such literary figures as Joyce, Yeats, Kafka, and Wyndham Lewis and is the editor of Valences of Interdisciplinarity: Theory, Practice, Pedagogy.
Contributors: Ian Angus, Maria Bakardjieva, Daryl Campbell, Sharone Daniel, Andrew Feenberg, Raphael Foshay, Carolyn Guertin, David J. Gunkel, Bob Hanke, Leslie Lindballe, Mark McCutcheon, Roman Onufrijchuk, Josipa G. Petrunic, Peter J. Smith, Lorna Stefanick, and Karen Wall
Introduction: The Computational Turn and the Digital Network - Raphael Foshay
Part I: Digital Theory
1 The Internet in Question / Andrew Feenberg
2 Emergent Meaning in the Information Age / Ian Angus
3 Responsible Machines: The Opportunities and Challenges of Artificial Autonomous Agents / David J. Gunkel
4 Open Source Transparency: The Making of an Altered Identity / Daryl Campbell
Part II: Digital Culture
5 Hacktivist (Pre)Occupations: Self-Surveillance, Participation and Public Space / Carolyn Guertin
6 Theoretical and Institutional Contexts of the Dubject, the Doubled and Spaced Self / Mark A. McCutcheon
7 The Network University in Transition / Bob Hanke
8 Spinning the Web: Critical Discourse Analysis and its Online Space / Leslie Lindballe
9 Paramortals, or Dancing with the Interactive Digital Dead / Roman Onufrijchuk
Part III: Digital Politics
10 The Rise of the National Surveillance State in Comparative Perspective / Peter J. Smith
11 Democracy and Identity in the Digital Age / Lorna Stefanick and Karen Wall
12 The Digital Democratic Deficit: Analysis of Digital Voting in a Canadian Party Leadership Race / Josipa G. Petrunic
13 Navigating the Mediapolis: Digital Media and Emerging Practices of Democratic Participation / Maria Bakardjieva
14 The Construction of Collective Action Frames in Facebook Groups / Sharone Daniel
Afterword / Raphael Foshay
Appendix: Do Machines Have Rights? Ethics in the Age of Artificial Intelligence / David Gunkel, Interviewed by Paul Kellogg
List of Contributors
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