12 August 2014

The Internet of Words

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In his review of the recent books by Alice E. Marwick and danah boyd, Ted Striphas focuses on how they guide us in understanding how the internet is affecting our language as it expresses our social experience.

“There has been a lot of speculation about social media and what it does to us individually and collectively. But now we’re beginning to see a new generation of writers who are conducting extensive ethnographic research about how people use these and other digital tools. Alice E. Marwick, author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, (Yale University Press, 2013) and danah boyd, author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Yale, 2014) are among the finest interpreters of the technological changes we have been experiencing. They point to the first decade of the 21st century as the time when, in the wake of the dot-com bust, the tech industry rebooted around social media. And they chronicle how people are coming to navigate a world dizzy with opportunities for self-presentation and interaction online. Along the way, they manage to defuse some of the panic surrounding recent changes, taking aim at concerned parents, plucky teens, hurried journalists, aspiring celebrities, hopeful entrepreneurs, and others who simply assume social media is either a ticket to the big time or an express elevator to hell.”

Ted Striphas is an associate professor of communication and culture at Indiana University at Bloomington. He is the author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture From Consumerism to Control (Columbia University Press, 2009).

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