How to get a grip on cyborgs

Reading Digital Culture. First Edition
June 1, 2001

Our engagement with digital communication technologies is one of the most stunning and fast-growing movements of the 20th century. This collection of some 35 essays and excerpts, edited by David Trend, comprises significant writings on digital culture. It does not attempt to resolve the tensions and debates but assembles influential arguments that have informed the debate surrounding virtual reality, cyberspace and the internet.

Reading Digital Culture is grouped into six sections covering the history and philosophy of digital technology, metaphors and practice of digital communication, political power structures surrounding digital culture, identity in cyberspace, online community and social interaction and discourse on the emergence of digital culture. In what is an ill-defined field there are writings ranging from Vannevar Bush's 1945 proposal for a machine to store, organise and link items of information to Donna Haraway's Manifesto for Cyborgs and William Gibson's Johnny Mnemonic .

The book will appeal to those with an interest in virtual reality, or cyberspace, and its interplay with culture and society. The material is an important resource for cultural studies, sociology and information science. Those involved more directly with digital technologies will also benefit from critiques and explorations of digital and virtual media. This is also an invaluable collection for those wishing to explore digital communication technologies in the context of social and political power structures.

The range of styles, content and approaches means that some readers will be selective. Many of the ideas are subtle and complex. They may appear bewildering to those new to the area. However, the diversity of the anthology and the readable commentary by Trend makes this a suitable introduction as well as a useful compendium. An inevitable consequence of the importance of many of the essays in this collection is that some have been anthologised elsewhere. However, Trend's selection and structuring along with his introductory notes for each section make this a valuable and unique assemblage.

Jo Wood is senior lecturer in geographic information, City University.

Reading Digital Culture. First Edition

Editor - David Trend
ISBN - 0 631 22301 0 and 22302 9
Publisher - Blackwell
Price - £55.00 and £15.99
Pages - 374

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