Dark Fiber

Dark Fiber

Tracking Critical Internet Culture

Geert Lovink

ISBN 9780262278584
394 pp.
September 2003

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Dark Fiber

Tracking Critical Internet Culture

According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.

In Dark Fiber, Lovink combines aesthetic and ethical concerns and issues of navigation and usability without ever losing sight of the cultural and economic agendas of those who control hardware, software, content, design, and delivery. He examines the unwarranted faith of the cyber-libertarians in the ability of market forces to create a decentralized, accessible communication system. He studies the inner dynamics of hackers’ groups, Internet activists, and artists, seeking to understand the social laws of online life. Finally, he calls for the injection of political and economic competence into the community of freedom-loving cyber-citizens, to wrest the Internet from corporate and state control. The topics include the erosion of email, bandwidth for all, the rise and fall of dot-com mania, techno-mysticism, sustainable social networks, the fight for a public Internet time standard, the strategies of Internet activists, mailing list culture, and collaborative text filtering. Stressing the importance of intercultural collaboration, Lovink includes reports from Albania, where NGOs and artists use new media to combat the country’s poverty and isolation; from Taiwan, where the September 1999 earthquake highlighted the cultural politics of the Internet; and from Delhi, where a new media center explores free software, public access, and Hindi interfaces.

Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Introduction: Twilight of the Digirati
  3. 1. Essay on Speculative Media Theory (1996)
  4. 2. Portrait of the Virtual Intellectual (1997)
  5. 3. The Digital City—Metaphor and Community (2001)
  6. 4. The Moderation Question: Nettime and the Boundaries of Mailing List Culture (2001)
  7. 5. Language? No Problem (1996)
  8. 6. A Push Media Critique (1997)
  9. 7. Mass Psychology of the Net: A Proposal (1998)
  10. 8. Net.Times, Not Swatch Time: 21st-Century Global Time Wars (1998)
  11. 9. Fragments of Network Criticism (1999)
  12. 10. Sweet Erosions of Email (2000)
  13. 11. Culture after the Final Breakdown: Tirana, Albania, May 1998 (1998)
  14. 12. The 9/21 Aftershocks: Taiwan, December 1999 (1999)
  15. 13. At the Opening of New Media Centre Sarai: Delhi, February 2001 (2001)
  16. 14. Radical Media Pragmatism (1998)
  17. 15. Network Fears and Desires (1998)
  18. 16. An Early History of 1990s Cyberculture (1999)
  19. 17. The Importance of Meetspace: On Conferences and Temporary Media Labs (2000)
  20. 18. An Insider’s Guide to Tactical Media (2001)
  21. 19. Organized Innocence and War in the New Europe: Adilkno, Culture, and the Independent Media (1995)
  22. 20. Soros and the NGO Question, or The Art of Being Independent (1997)
  23. 21. Information Warfare: From Propaganda Critique to Culture Jamming (1998)
  24. 22. Kosovo: War in the Age of Internet (1999)
  25. 23. Cyberculture in the Dotcom Age (2000)
  26. 24. The Rise and Fall of Dotcom Mania (2001)
  27. 25. Hi-Low: The Bandwidth Dilemma, or Internet Stagnation after Dotcom Mania (2001)
  28. Bibliography