war & peace
This guide brings together some of the writing about life
in 'wired' or 'information' societies - digital environments.
Since the late 1980s it has become accepted wisdom that
we are living in a 'digital environment', one that embodies
a 'law of code' (a law founded on US libertarian values
regarding free speech and private enterprise) that will
bring nations - and individuals - together in a global
market featuring ubiquitous access to information via
electronic media. That environment is supposedly both
unprecedented and inevitable, although delayed in parts
of the world such as Kazakhstan or Zimbabwe that have
not inhaled the zeitgeist.
This guide, and by extension the caslon.com.au site, question
some of the digital pieties.
The following pages suggest that it is more useful to
speak of a range of digital environments, in which culture
is often as important as the availability of infrastructure
or hegemonies regarding markets, the state, individual
autonomy and community.
Few of the digital environments are unprecedented: many
of the laments about digital woes (or merely the discontents
of modernity) look distinctly traditional and rhetoric
about the evils (or wonders) of the net could have come
from writing about television, the telegraph or the printing
press. Eschatological visions
of the Telecosm,
Noosphere or what Nicholas Negroponte acclaimed as
'Being Digital' (sort of 'cool' without taxes or inconveniences
such as governments and the distressingly un-hip lower
classes) are also misplaced.
Like any description of an environment it is necessarily
patchy. We have highlighted online and offline writing
about work, gender, the arts, morals, communities and
More detailed information on issues such as privacy, anonymity,
intellectual property and the 'new economy' is found in
other guides on this site.
in this guide
The following pages cover -
offers pointers to some basic texts about digital technology:
machines, software and networks
looks at some visions of the infotopia or etopia - Toffler,
Gilder, Negroponte, Dyson, McLuhan, Barlow - and critiques
of the 'Californian Ideology'
considers equally fashionable laments that digital technology
means the end of civilisation as we know it - no more
books, quality broadcasting, well-behaved children or
table napkins, depending on the guru of choice
considers geographies of information production, information
flows and consumption in the digital environment. There
is a supplementary note on the 'New International Information
Order', 'New World Information & Communication Order'
(NWICO) and World Summit on the Information Society
explores debate about digital rights, responsibilities
- considers the 'new laziness', 'information overload',
'internet time' and lifehacking
& traces looks at the notion of cyberspace: everywhere
and nowhere, out of control or business as usual? It
also offers an introduction to wired and wireless networks
looks at urbanism, location and architecture
points to some of the more interesting (and loopier)
writing about mind and body in the digital environment,
including cyborgs and the 'body as data'
electrosensitivity and e-waste
discusses writing about gender, intimacy and sexuality
in cyberspace, including adult content
& information offers two perspectives on cyberspace,
considering claims about artificial intelligence and
class and generations deals with how 'being digital'
affects nations and communities, including the digital
ghetto and the digital divide. It also examines notions
of the 'New Class' and 'generation i'
highlights information about culture online
considers the shape of education in the digital environment,
including debate about the 'enterprise university',
knowledge management and 'learning ware'
offers a snapshot of issues explored in a separate guide
on the Information Economy,
along with comments about cyber-busking
& play considers the nature of work, employment
and industrial relations
- recreation and entertainment in the 'internet economy'
considers characterisation of happiness and satisfaction
state is an introduction to some of the studies
of politics and governance explored in our guides
& peace considers the shape of conflict in the
offers a reality check, in considering predictions by
the gurus, through an examination of the crystal ball
points to writing about emerging technologies and their
implications, including truly pervasive computing and
artificial intelligence, and comments on technology
Most of the 700 plus pages on this site touch on what
it means to 'be digital'. Among those of particular relevance
are two background profiles:
explores the nature and impact of past communications
The profile on the net
looks at the evolution of the global information infrastructure
and considers writing about its developers
site provides detailed coverage of 'old media' in the
'age of the internet'.
An irreverent list of 200 books for making sense of the
net is here.
next page (technologies)