Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture

  • 6h 17m
  • Benjamin Peters
  • Princeton University Press
  • 2016

In the age of search, keywords increasingly organize research, teaching, and even thought itself. Inspired by Raymond Williams's 1976 classic Keywords, the timely collection Digital Keywords gathers pointed, provocative short essays on more than two dozen keywords by leading and rising digital media scholars from the areas of anthropology, digital humanities, history, political science, philosophy, religious studies, rhetoric, science and technology studies, and sociology. Digital Keywords examines and critiques the rich lexicon animating the emerging field of digital studies.

This collection broadens our understanding of how we talk about the modern world, particularly of the vocabulary at work in information technologies. Contributors scrutinize each keyword independently: for example, the recent pairing of digital and analog is separated, while classic terms such as community, culture, event, memory, and democracy are treated in light of their historical and intellectual importance. Metaphors of the cloud in cloud computing and the mirror in data mirroring combine with recent and radical uses of terms such as information, sharing, gaming, algorithm, and internet to reveal previously hidden insights into contemporary life. Bookended by a critical introduction and a list of over two hundred other digital keywords, these essays provide concise, compelling arguments about our current mediated condition.

Digital Keywords delves into what language does in today's information revolution and why it matters.

About the Author

Benjamin Peters (b. 1980) is an author raised near the cornfields of Iowa and educated on both coasts (earning his masters at Stanford and doctorate at Columbia). He now teaches at the University of Tulsa (in Oklahoma) and serves as an affiliated faculty at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (in Connecticut). When he is not traveling, writing or speaking publicly, or otherwise geeking out, he can be found happily at home (wherever that is) with his spouse and four children.

His research examines the long evolution of media and technology from the big bang to big data. His work is organized around three basic coordinates of space (comparing media systems), time (new media history), and power (technology criticism). For example, his first book, How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (MIT Press, 2016), gets at how computer networks took shape in the cold war technology race; his second solo-authored book, which is in the works, takes up time by offering a critical history of new media since 1890, not 1990; and his third book, an edited volume in the spirit of Raymond Williams, Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture (Princeton University Press, 2016), examines the relationship of power and language in the age of search.

In this Book

  • Introduction
  • Activism
  • Algorithm
  • Analog
  • Archive
  • Cloud
  • Community
  • Culture
  • Democracy
  • Digital
  • Event
  • Flow
  • Forum
  • Gaming
  • Geek
  • Hacker
  • Information
  • Internet
  • Meme
  • Memory
  • Mirror
  • Participation
  • Personalization
  • Prototype
  • Sharing
  • Surrogate