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[liberationtech] New Book: Critical Theory and the Digital

Reed Black reed at
Tue Feb 25 07:25:53 PST 2014

word salad and the digital

On Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 4:05 AM, David Berry <dmberry at> wrote:

> Hi
> I hope you don't mind my announcing my new book *Critical Theory and the
> Digital* which explores the contemporary landscape related to
> computational technology and argues for an approach that revitalises
> critical theory in light of current questions over cryptography, critical
> technical practice and related notions of critical digital humanities and
> code work. I think that some of the subscribers to this list might find the
> arguments articulated in the book of some interest.
> This Critical Theory and Contemporary Society volume offers an original
> analysis of the role of the digital in today's society. It rearticulates
> critical theory by engaging it with the challenges of the digital
> revolution to show how the digital is changing the ways in which we lead
> our politics, societies, economies, media, and even private lives. In
> particular, the work examines how the enlightenment values embedded within
> the culture and materiality of digital technology can be used to explain
> the changes that are occurring across society.
> Critical Theory and the Digital draws from the critical concepts developed
> by critical theorists to demonstrate how the digital needs to be understood
> within a dialectic of potentially democratizing and totalizing technical
> power. By relating critical theory to aspects of a code-based digital world
> and the political economy that it leads to, the book introduces the
> importance of the digital code in the contemporary world to researchers in
> the field of politics, sociology, globalization and media studies.
> Some blurb:
> "'Adorno will not be your Facebook friend.' Instead of lamenting the
> cultural elitism of the Frankfurt School, David Berry reopens critical
> theory's conceptual toolbox with a renewed curiosity. These days the
> theorist is no longer a prophet who ponders the world divorced from the
> materiality of communication. It is not enough to merely explore the
> technosphere, there is an urgency to radically question digital
> technologies. In this age of conflict, the neoliberal consensus culture is
> taken to task by critical theory David-Berry-style. In line with the
> info-activism of Wikileaks and Snowden, Berry instructs us how to read the
> black box that dominates our everyday lives and helps us to develop a new
> vocabulary amidst all the crazes, from speculative realism to digital
> humanities." -  Geert Lovink, Media Theorist, Amsterdam
> "Berry's timely book engages with a broad range of topics that define our
> digital culture. It guides us to the political materiality of software
> culture with excellent insights. Importantly, this book updates critical
> theory for the digital age." -  Dr Jussi Parikka, Winchester School of Art,
> author of What is Media Archaeology? (2012)
> "In this lucid, learned and highly original book Berry confronts the
> nature of digital knowledge in society through the re-invigorated lens of
> Critical Theory asking how we can regain control of the knowledge
> structures embedded in the digital technologies that we increasingly rely
> upon in daily life." -  Michael Bull, author of Sound Moves: iPod Culture
> and Urban Experience
> "Critical Theory and the Digital offers an important new addition to
> critical theory that explores questions raised by the digital in light of
> the work of the Frankfurt school. Providing an accessible and critical
> appraisal of the digital world we live in today, the book argues that
> critical praxis must today be rethought in light of digital technologies
> and the affordances that are made available to state, corporate and civil
> society actors. The book offers both a theoretical and a political
> contribution: the former through its exploration of how the digital can be
> read, written, and hacked critically; the latter through its discussion of
> how the digital can be transformed by political action and the organisation
> of digital resistance." -  Christian De Cock, University of Essex, UK
> "Unlike many media studies scholars who refer to the Frankfurt School's
> critique of the cultural industries only to show its inapplicability to the
> open source world of the digital age, David Berry accomplishes the
> remarkable feat of re-instating that critique for the new brave world that
> is afforded by digital technology. Easily moving between Heidegger, Adorno
> and Stiegler, Berry mobilizes a formidable array of theoretical resources
> in aid of what he calls 'iteracy', an emerging competence in tracking the
> contexts in which 'being digital' is continually formed and re-formed. The
> result is a milestone in both critical theory and the digital humanities."
> -  Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, Department of
> Sociology, University of Warwick, UK
> "Bringing dialectical critique to digital culture, David Berry replenishes
> the legacy of the Frankfurt School in order to devise strategies to live
> within and against the real-time streams of computational capitalism.
> Fusing critical theory with the political economy of social media (think
> Facebook and Twitter), the surveillance paranoia of NSA, the wild party of
> Hacklabs, the secret autonomy of cryptography, and the accelerated economy
> of algorithmic trading, Berry registers the contours of the black box that
> defines digital labour and life." -  Ned Rossiter, Institute for Culture
> and Society, University of Western Sydney, Australia
> Best
> David
> ---
> Dr. David M. Berry
> Reader
> Silverstone 316
> School of Media, Film and Music
> University of Sussex,
> Falmer,
> East Sussex. BN1 8PP
> --
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