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[liberationtech] New book: Digital Disconnect

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Wed Mar 13 16:01:20 PDT 2013


“A major new work by one of the nation's leading analysts of media.… A hard to put down, meticulously researched must-read.”

—Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth
Purchase Digital Disconnect

“Over the past 20 years, the world has experienced a profound communications revolution delivered by the internet as well as an equally profound rise in economic inequality and instability delivered by neoliberal capitalism. Digital Disconnect explores the connections between these epoch-defining trends with clarity, depth, originality and verve."

—Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst

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I am writing you to tell you about my new book on the Internet that may interest you. It is titled Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Away from Democracy. The book is a political economic examination of the digital revolution based upon 15 years of research. The book provides considerable detail but also an overarching analysis and argument, so it is intended for anyone concerned with the Internet. It is the capstone of my career.

Michael Delli Carpini, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “Digital Disconnect makes a convincing case that one can only understand the Internet and related communication technologies through the lens of political economy, and that the capitalist political economy in which they are currently embedded in the United States is anathema to a truly democratic information environment.”

The book includes the following:

    * how the standard dichotomy of views on the Internet as “celebratory” or skeptical” have important and necessary insights, but they almost all fail to factor in or appreciate the importance of capitalism as the driving force, as well as the problems capitalism can create for democratic values and practices
    * a fresh look at  the noncommercial origins of the Internet, and the shadowy process whereby it was converted into an engine for commercialism
    * how the dinosaur industries of telecommunication and entertainment media have managed to survive and even prosper in the Internet era by their domination of the corrupt policymaking process
    * how the Internet, once seen as an engine of economic competition, has become arguably the greatest generator of economic monopoly in history, with troubling implications for both the economy and political democracy; the dominant Internet firms now comprise nearly one-half of the 30 largest publicly traded corporations  in the United States, based on market value
    * how advertising has been radically transformed online such that traditional notions of privacy have been eliminated, and the traditional support for media content advertising once provided is disappearing
    * how the national security state has surveillance powers over private citizens that were unimaginable a generation ago and are inimical to the foundations of a free society
    * how the Internet has assisted in destroying journalism as it has been practiced for the past century, and offers no hope on its own of rejuvenating journalism as a credible broad-based democratic institution; this chapter updates the research I did with John Nichols in 2010’s multiple-award-winning Death and Life of American Journalism (Nation Books)
    * how a series of crucial policy debates in the next decade will go a long way toward determining the course of the Internet and the course of society.

This book is written with the aim of helping scholars and citizens be informed participants, and to see that the revolutionary democratic potential of the digital revolution be realized.

After reading the book, Eric Alterman of The Nation and Brooklyn College wrote: “Once again, McChesney stands at the crossroads of media dysfunction and the denial of democracy, illuminating the complex issues involved and identifying a path forward to try to repair the damage. Here's hoping the rest of us have the good sense to listen this time.”

Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, wrote: “With a panoramic sweep and profound insights, McChesney rings the alarm bells, showing clearly how capitalism is swallowing up the promise of the Internet. No one knows this field better than McChesney, and with this book, he has reached the pinnacle.”

Thank you for your consideration,

Bob McChesney


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