Media Life: Expanded Table of Contents

Next week Last month, at the annual International Communication Association conference (this year in Phoenix, Arizona), my publisher Polity Press will have had a preview print copy of Media Life available - we are currently putting the final touches on artwork scans.

As the book is officially scheduled to come out (and be available in your bookstore) in the UK and Europe on July 20th (less than a month later in the US and the rest of the world), let me share an expanded table of contents here - featuring chapter titles, taglines, and all subheadings (with links to relevant sources of inspiration).

Overview: In Media
  • where who you are is what media are
Chapter One: Media Life
  • where we go beyond human-machine differences and focus on living a good media life
Caught in the grip of the immediate - Life in the media city - The digital and the physical - Anthropotechnologies, humachines, inforgs and the posthuman - Prosthetic gods - Divine beings in a post-metaphysical world

Chapter Two: Media Today
  • where media organize all aspects of our everyday lives and disappear
A media archaeology of artifacts, activities and arrangements - Feeling deeply at breakneck speed - Charismatic technologies of love - The unseen disappearance of invisible media

Chapter Three: What Media Do
  • where media record and store everything and we lose ourselves in media
Welcome to the unforgettable - Mindless Martini media - Yes we can (record, store, access and redact life)! - The permanently impermanent archive

Chapter Four: No Life Outside Media
Discipline, control and suspicion - O Big Brother, wherefore art thou? - Panopticism revisited - Reverse engineering the panopticon - Beyond the panopticon

Chapter Five: Society in Media
  • where we live in media forever
We're all fucking zombies - Everything (and everyone) zombie - You are not special - Aliens in mediaspace - Digital masters and femmes digitales - Everyone knows you're (not) a dog - Survival in the metaverse

Chapter Six: Together Alone
  • where we are closely connected to endless versions of ourselves
Try to remain visible - Systemworlds, placeworlds, wikiworlds, mediaworlds - The mediated lifeworld - The world is a map in the palm of your hand - Who am I and who are you?

Chapter Seven: In Media We Fit
  • where living in media provides social and reproductive success
"I am the one, Orgasmatron" - "Take control. Get a divorce" - Darwin among the machines - Media life as survival strategy - Avatar activism - Grooming at a distance - Living in the global mediascape

Chapter Eight: Life in Media
  • where you can see yourself live, and delusion is the way to keep it real
To picture any image of yourself to yourself - It's all about me - Keeping it real - The Truman Show delusion - "The best of all possible worlds" - The art of media life


Media Life (2012): Preface

In 2012 my book Media Life came out. The excellent external reviews of the manuscript (courtesy of my publisher, Polity Press) all but asked to include a bit of a roadmap, as I have tended to let the argument emerge organically out of my writing (I sincerely had no idea where I was going with the narrative other than wanting to explore a life in, rather than with, media and information). Below the full preface (in its second draft) of the book, additionally functioning as the introduction to the courses I have developed around the media life project (variously titled as Living in the Information Age, Media Life, and Living Information) at the universities of Indiana, Helsinki, and Amsterdam.

Updated version dated June 13, 2016. 

Media Life - Preface: In Media
You live in media. Who you are, what you do, and what all of this means to you does not exist outside of media. Media are to us as water is to fish. This does not mean life is determined by media - it just suggests that whether we like it or not, every aspect of our lives takes place in media.

Part of this kind of life is coming to terms with a supersaturation of media messages and machines in households, workplaces, shopping malls, bars and restaurants, and all the other in-between spaces of today's world. Over the last few decades, the key categories of human aliveness and activity converged in a concurrent and continuous exposure to, use of, and immersion in media.

It must be clear, that media are not just types of technology and chunks of content occupying the world around us - a view that considers media as external agents affecting us in a myriad of ways. If anything, today the uses and appropriations of media can be seen as fused with everything people do, everywhere people are, everyone people aspire to be. There is no external to media life - whatever we perceive as escape hatch, passage out, or potential delete key is just an illusion. In fact, we can only imagine a life outside of media.
In terms of what media communicate it is tempting to point to governments, companies and corporations for pushing an unrelenting, ever-accelerating stream of content and experiences into our lives. However, most mediated communication comprises of work done by you and me: through our endless texts, chats, and e-mails, with our phone calls from anywhere at anytime, and through our online social networks that function as the living archives of social reality.

With the majority of the world population owning a mobile phone, telecommunication networks spanning almost every inch of the globe, sales figures of any and all media devices growing steadily worldwide, dead media technologies and practices regularly resurrected, any and all media by default integrated into an always-on real-time live mode of being, an almost complete mediatization of society (link to PDF) seems a somewhat self-evident observation.
A media life is much more than media hardware, software, and content - it is also everything we do with and in response to media: how we build and sustain relationships and family ties, how we derive cultural status and social currency from the kinds of media we use (the music we listen to, the shows we follow, the games we catch live), and the various ways we more or less deliberately manipulate time and space by checking our email on mobile devices, listen to audiobooks with noise-cancelling headphones, and record our private participation in public proceedings (weddings, concerts, the weekend soccer game) with networked devices that simultaneously immediatize and immortalize our lived experience as they mediatize it.

As we merge our perception of ourselves and others with what can be mediated about us, media competencies, literacies and fitness become paramount to the human condition. Media benchmark our experience of the world, and how we make sense of our role in it. A media life reflects how media are both a necessary and unavoidable part of our existence and survival.

It certainly seems there is more media in everyday life. Media are ubiquitous - they are everywhere - and pervasive - they cannot be switched off. Furthermore, our near-complete immersion in media constitutes the majority of time spent in waking life. Media consumption studies worldwide consistently show over the years how more of our time on any given day gets spent using media, and that being concurrently exposed to media has become a mundane mark of existence.

The media life perspective recognizes one further quality of media: that they, as much as the human brain (or the cosmos), are indeterminate. Media are not finished, nor static - but plastic, and malleable. Media evolve. As hardware and software, they act upon each other next to their interactions with us. We emotionally invest ourselves into media as much as our media become an affective part of us. As platforms for communication media constitute as well as reproduce the world we live in.
Throughout the Media Life book and the various courses I teach related to these themes, I use media interchangeably with information and communication technologies, and with machines more generally insofar relations with humanity and society are involved.

Media, thus broadly conceived, are any (symbolical or technological) systems that enable, structure or amplify communication between people.

Life, on the other hand, is not just about surviving - it is about living a live life, a life worth living, a form of liveness that goes beyond simply making it work from day to day.

At the heart of the media life project is the question what a good, passionate, beautiful, and socially responsible media life looks like.

A dichotomous reading of the mixing of media and life identifies and maps ways in which human beings and behaviors steer the development of media in an attempt to make sense of people's everyday life and what can be done about it. Such media-centrism and technological determinism often boils down to benevolent or malevolent mechanistic fascination with the machinery of media and the technique of technologies. It tends to obscure rather than unveil the interdependency of humanity and technology - as it keeps insisting on finding ways of making sense of the world outside of media, of attributing primacy of the social over the technological.

In essence, media-centrism (and its attendant arguments about the real or perceived influences of media on ways of being alive) is a product of a live lived in media: it is a delusion we maintain in order to convince ourselves and each other that we exist not just next to, but in an intrinsically more central and indeed privileged relationship to our media. Maintaining an outside to media makes us, as human beings, feel special.

As French philosopher Jean Baudrillard remarked in response to the way the Wachowski's used his work as inspiration for their The Matrix film franchise (in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, July 2004): "The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce." Correspondingly, media-centrism and technological determinism can be considered to be the kind of theoretical stopgaps a media life perspective would produce in order to mask itself. The illusion that we can comprehensively control our media (for example by pulling the plug, pressing the 'off' switch on a remote control, by becoming 'mediawise' or developing sophisticated media literacies) in fact preserves media as the primary definer of our reality. If we let go of this deception - this dualist fallacy of domination of man over machine (or vice versa) - it may be possible to come to terms with the world we are a part of in ways that are less about effects, things and what happens, more about process, practice, and what can be done.
The heart of the media life project is the question how we can understand ourselves and the world we live in if we accept, if only for a moment, that we do not live with, but in media.

Media and information, to most people, belong to the realm of the unreal, or less real. What if this exclusive orientation to the otherness of (reality in) media acts as a crutch rather than a tool for living our lives more ethically and aesthetically? Instead of fusing the horizons of media and life, it seems as if we invest all our time in keeping them separate. By way of first step and chapter in the book (and the coursework I have developed around it), I therefore unpack this history of man-machine separation, while at the same time highlighting how throughout this discussion media life was always already firmly established in our sense-making practices of the world and our role in it.
The second dilemma I faced, was how to bring media back into our awareness without simply stating that one needs to look more closely at media - which would maintain their alterity. By adopting an archaeological approach to media in conjunction with a social history of dominant media species - the television and the mobile phone - I suggest that the key to understanding media is not to emphasize their difference but their disappearance from our lives. This amounts to a paradox: the more media dematerialize, the more people seem to be talking about media and what they mean to us. From a media life point of view I engage this enigma by emphasizing how, through our apparent need for media in order to express anything meaningful about them, the intense discussions about the role of media in people's lives are symptomatic of the mediatization of both individuals and society.
As we lose ourselves to technology, what happens next? The conflation of technology with technique, and of media with being mediated tends to be viewed with apprehension. Surely, the cold machines of media are alien to all that we consider as life? If so, an existence engulfed in media means we are perpetually caught in what has been aqueously described as a communicational 'bubble' filled with the 'foam' of media.

"We swim in an ocean of media," a headline in The Christian Science Monitor (of 28 September 2005) reads in a report on people's media use. Splashing around in open water makes it hard to notice what is going on around you, on shore and elsewhere, let alone taking in the plights of other human beings. Such liquid lamentations pervade much of the otherwise prudent thinking on media and everyday life. I try to take up this challenge in chapter three by arguing that there is no necessary relationship between the technological and the social. The relations that do exist are clearly both structural - machines are always social as much as they are technical (paraphrasing Gilles Deleuze) - and highly dynamic - living in media is not the same for everyone.

Just like human beings, media have both traits and states. In the everyday negotiation and symbiosis between media and life, it becomes possible to uncover these qualities and explore them to a fuller extent. One of the key qualities of our media is their uncanny capacity for recording and storing everything we do with them. As social media strategist Renny Gleeson (of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Oregon) observes about the way people use mobile media in his TED talk of February 2009: "our reality right now is less interesting than the story we're going to tell about it later.
A media life can be seen as living in an ultimate archive, a public library of (almost) everything, a personalized experience of all the information of the universe. At the same time, in media life the archive is alive, in that it is subject to constant intervention by yourself and others, that it always remains incomplete as much as it is endlessly comprehensive. In the absence of all-seeing librarians and neatly categorized compendiums, the only way we can make sense of ourselves and each other in media is by carefully, and continuously, checking each other out. This is the theme of the fourth chapter, as the age-old premise of a Big Brother-like surveillance society comes full circle in a media world of mundanely massive mutual monitoring, where everyone is (or can be expected to be) watching everyone else.

If we live in media and information, we are in the process of co-creating a society particular to the media of our time that are always already remediations of earlier technologies and societies: never the same, always similar. In chapter five I address the constituent elements of a society in media by suggesting that it resembles a world after the zombie apocalypse. Like zombies, we lose our sense of ego and individuality as we are collectively lost in our technologies. Whether through watching the same or similar television shows regardless of where we are in the world, or simply by logging on to the global grid of the 'network of networks' that is internet, we are - again, much like zombies - irreducibly connected into a worldwide flow of data, information, techniques and technologies. Like zombies, we cannot seem to get enough of media - even though there does not seem to be a collective nor consensual agenda as to where we are going.

As Sonia Livingstone suggests (link to PDF) regarding the motivation of a society in media: "[f]irst, the media mediate, entering into and shaping the mundane but ubiquitous relations among individuals and between individuals and society; and second, as a result, the media mediate, for better or for worse, more than ever before."

Zombies are similarly driven - even the amputation of limbs does not tend to stop them - yet seemingly without creative impulse (other than feasting on our brains). Beyond the zombie metaphor, thinking about media zombies is instrumental to digging deeper, going beyond the surface of media and life: looking for ways in which we can theorize conjunctions of humanity and technology that highlight how a society in media is at once individual and interconnected as it is both embodied and virtual. This would hopefully open society up for the kind of plasticity and malleability of a world we are used to in media: whether by wielding a remote control or by re-arranging hardware, by clicking a mouse or by re-programming software, reality (in media) is open source.
If our sense of the real is experienced in media, how can we think of media as elements of our lives that can help us to get closer to reality than ever before? This dilemma is at the heart of the sixth chapter, where I question the kinds of connections we have with each other and ourselves in media, and try to move beyond either postmodern or existentialist frames for what is (or may be) real.

Our lifeworld - the world we experience most directly, instantly, and without reservation - is irreversibly mediated. It confronts us with endless versions of ourselves and everyone else. There certainly seems to be too much information available - to us as well as about us. Yet, as online social networks scholar danah boyd suggests, "in many situations, there is more to be gained by accepting the public default than by going out of one's way to keep things private. And here's where we see the shift. It used to take effort to be public. Today, it often takes effort to be private."
In media life it is pertinent to explore how one can derive value from mediated oversharing and overexposure. Such value may not only be symbolic. The seventh chapter explores evolutionary readings of media life, showing how contemporary discourse about the skills and competences one needs to navigate a mediated lifeworld signposts multiple media literacies as survival values. The solution is not, as has been suggested as far back as in the original responses to Charles Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species" (1859), to wage war on machines. It is by becoming media we enhance our fitness for survival.

In the eight and final chapter I tie all the elements of my exploration of life as lived in media together in the diagnosis of a 'Truman Show delusion' by American psychiatrists Joel and Ian Gold, who suggest that classical syndromes such as narcissism and paranoia in combination with pervasive information technologies in the context of a media culture where the boundaries between the physical and virtual world are blurring produce a new type of psychosis. What makes their analysis a fitting conclusion is the insight that this delusion, as diagnosed in patients and confirmed by colleagues elsewhere, can best be understood as an extreme rendering of what most people feel. In media life, the world can certainly sometimes seem like the television studio in the Truman Show movie (from 1998), with the significant difference that there is not exit.

The question is not how to avoid or destroy the media in our lives, but what Truman Burbank could do if he decided to stay inside of his fully mediated living arrangements. For one, he would be able to see himself live - and, if need be, adapt and evolve accordingly. This evolutionary process necessarily involves an awareness of how we are interconnected (in media), and therefore requires a sense of responsibility towards ourselves and each other that necessarily moves beyond the real or perceived manifestations of our divine machines.
Whether we like it or not, we are slowly but surely becoming information players and creators rather than simply those who are expected to work with the information that is given to us. We can indeed create art with life. In media, with information.


Managing Media Work Book Review (2)

Just came across a new review of my edited volume Managing Media Work in the quarterly journal Communication Research Trends, written by Paul Soukup.

The review provides a thorough overview of the book, and concludes:
"Managing Media Work fills an important gap in communication teaching because it calls attention to the world in which the graduates will function. The idea of management applies, Deuze and his contributors argue, to people and their day-to-day work, to their careers, to the various media content they produce, to the legal and regulatory environments, and to the economic health of the industries. The essays provide an eye-opening look at this somewhat hidden part of communication."

Managing Media Work Wins Award

Very pleased to report that my edited volume, "Managing Media Work" (published in 2010 by Sage), is the recipient of the 2011 Robert Picard Book Award of the Media Management and Economics Division of the Assocation for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

The award was presented at the 2011 AEJMC convention in St. Louis (USA), where contributing author Bozena Mierzejewska accepted the plaque in the name of all authors involved.

Obviously I'm thrilled and honored, and would like to thank the exceptional colleagues who contributed original work to the volume (listed in the order of appearance in the book):

Brian Steward, Bozena Mierzejewska, Chris Bilton, Lucy Küng, Terry Flew, Philip Napoli, Toby Miller, Jane Singer, Leopoldina Fortunati, Pablo J. Boczkowski, Tim Marjoribanks, Keith Randle, Alisa Perren, Charles Davis, Susan Christopherson, Liz McFall, Sean Nixon, Hackley Chris, Amy Rungpaka Tiwsakul, Marina Vujnovic, Dean Kruckeberg, Aphra Kerr, Eric Harvey, Rosalind Gill, Annet Aris, Geert Lovink, and Ned Rossiter.

Please note: an extensive review of the book (unrelated to the juried award) will appear in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Media Mangement.

Media Life: Done

Just want to share a brief moment of professional (and personal) joy: I just sent the first complete draft manuscript of Media Life to the publisher, Polity Press. Now it's waiting for the reviews... but I am really happy with how it turned out.

Here is, by way of a teaser, the final sentences of the book:
In his book "The Revolution Of Everyday Life" (1967), Belgian poet and philosopher Raoul Vaneigem writes:

"the search for new forms of communication, far from being the preserve of painters and poets, is now part of a collective effort. In this way the old specialization of art has finally come to an end. There are no more artists because everyone is an artist. The work of art of the future will be the construction of a passionate life."

In this book I insist to add media to such a life. The inevitable consequence of such a hopeful conclusion is that we have to come to terms with media like the people of Babel did with their all-encompassing Library, which is to say: we have to be able to let go of seeing media as influence machines, and start witnessing each other through them, in them.

When we, like Truman Burbank, navigate our ocean of media to what we think will be the door leading beyond the studio, we will see what Patrick Bateman - the serial killer in Brett Easton Ellis' novel "American Psycho" (1991) - saw on the door of a place anywhere in the world (as it dawns on the reader that they will never ever know whether any of the horrific murders in the book really took place): "a sign and on the sign [...] are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT" (399).

Media Life Book Notes

Mark Deuze - Media Life - book notes (Polity Press, 2011/2).

Some wonder how writing a book works. One thing I know, is that it works differently for each author. My process is evolving, but what has been working well in the course of writing Media Life is to base the project on book notes: a rough outline of what I would like to say in each chapter, serving as a reminder of where I am (and whether I've arrived at a certain argument or story before). Below are the notes I am working with at the moment. Chapters 6 and 8 still need to be written, I am currently rewriting chapter 5, and chapter 7 (an shortened version of which has been accepted for publication in the journal Cultural Science) needs some rigorous copy-editing.

Of course, I'm posting this to myself, really.

Annotated book notes; version date: March 5, 2011

• Chapter 1: Media Life - argue the ongoing concurrence of media and life; context: Hoffman's The Sandman and Poe's The Man That Was Used Up; debate on technology & society mutual influence, man-machine hybridization, cities as living machines, real time cities and urban informatics, cyborgs (Haraway, Lewis Mumford), the Singularity and Butler’s Darwin Among The Machines; versions of media + life frameworks for thinking, introduce the emphasis on ethics and aesthetics (a good & beautiful life) in this book.

Tagline: Where we try to live a good media life.

• Chapter 2: The Media Today - defining media as artefacts/activities/arrangements; social history & media archaeology; introduce concepts like mediamorphosis (Fidler); remediation (Bolter & Grusin); genealogy of media (Eco/Zielinski/Parikka); consider Buckminster Fuller's dymaxion principle; Arthur C. Clarke's "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; see also: Ned Kock on Darwinism and information technology; Brian Arthur on the nature of technology and the Zorg scene from 5th Element; Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; key for a media life today: the media disappear and become invisible (Gitelman's argument about authority and amnesia regarding media; the ideal of an invisible computer as formulated by Weiser) and therefore all-powerful (Žižek, on money, 2008: 35 makes the same argument); Kittler's appeal for an ontology of media.

Tagline: Where media organize all aspects of life and dissappear.

• Chapter 3: What Media Do - starting with examples: MyLifeBits, Memex, Knowledge Navigator, Microsoft Surface to illustrate and contextualize today's media's qualities of recording/ storing/ redacting everything; the end of forgetting and Mayer-Schönberger's value of forgetting; compare to Borges' The Aleph; Offray de la Mettrie's Man A Machine; using Stephen Colbert's "I am known therefore I am" opinion, discuss why we mediate our lives; key is: we have to work hard to keep media in mind, even though we are wired to respond to media mindlessly (consider Reeves & Nass' The Media Equation).

Tagline: Where media record and store everything and we lose ourselves in media.

• Chapter 4: No Life Outside Media - start with surveillance art (Jill Magid, Bag Lady 2.0) to discuss personal information economy and media as profiling machines (Elmer); link with dataveillance (Clark) & surveillance (Andrejevic, Lyon), Bentham's panopticon and reality TV, the history of discipline/ control/suspicion societies (Foucault, Deleuze, Mattelart); synopticism (Mathiesen); and today's omnopticism (Jensen) & sousveilance (Wellman): ultimate question: "who will babysit the babysitters" (Jello Biafra & Lard)?

Tagline: Where we become profiling machines.

• Chapter 5: Society In Media – recap everyone is watching everyone - we are all profiling machines; a key issue: how do we manage this and what is really going on? What do we do? first: can this be wonderful (Dewey), a source of ecstacy (Baudrillard); second: if so, we have to come to terms with media overload & infobesity (Stephenson's Babel/Infocalypse and Borges' Tower of Babel); three: introduce remix as coping strategy; remix culture (Lev Manovich); four: what about those who do not remix? (digital shadow, participation gap & digital divides; Andrew Feenberg, Jodi Dean).

Tagline: Where we live in media forever.

• Chapter 6: Together Alone - reflexive biographization (Veith) & biographical solutions to systemic contradictions (Beck); context: first we saw the systemworld colonize the lifeworld (Habermas), then lifeworld colonized the systemworld (Beck, Bauman), now, media colonize lifeworld (Goran Sonesson); metaphors for media life: Casares' The Invention Of Morel & the Star Trek Holodeck; media life and extreme isolation (Sloterdijk, the hikikomori phenomenon, De Zengotita's solipsism) or social cohesion (McLuhan, Wellman)? anchorage or rootlessness (Zizek)? together alone: Silent Disco as a metaphor for the experience of family life (see Žižek's notion of the big Other in the guise of cyberspace, Pierre Levy's notion of cyberspace & collective intelligence); compare to Leibniz’ monadology; friendships, love, sex and death in media: direct and indirect at the same time; living/dying privately in public (lifecasting & deathcasting); close plus at-a-distance equals instantaneous experience. collapsing identity categories: self and social, public and private, front stage and backstage (see Nancy Baym; Wittel's networked sociality, Zizi Papacharissi's networked self). conclude with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun's work on the experience of real and real-time; see Stanislav Lem's Solaris: in our exploration of the other in media we run the risk of only looking for mirrors.

Tagline: Where we are closely connected to endless versions of ourselves

• Chapter 7: In Media We Fit - what media do as social arrangements: orientation to media is a survival strategy (Luhmann; Hjarvard; Krotz; Schulz; Lundby); teledildonics, cybereroticism and ongoing body/machine interaction/integration (Kafka’s In The Penal Colony); evolutionary question: what adaptive advantage is gained with a media life? consider: social grooming, bonding, cooperation and sociality, thymotic self-assertion (Fukuyama), presentation of the self, natural and sexual selection.

Tagline: Where living in media provides social and reproductive success.

• Chapter 8: Life in Media - start with Borges Library of Babel (phantasmal living); in media life, the real/reality is malleable, under (co-) construction, permanently beta (De Mul) - in other words: a map; see Borges' On Exactitude In Science; memory as a map; claims about living in the map as the world using mobile/GPS/Google Latitude, Foursquare, Facebook Places), Steve Mann's mediated reality (CyborGLOGS), the unreality of our time (Lowen); creative engagements with reality: alternate reality games (Elan Lee, Christy Dena); argument: there are four realities at work simultaneously: The Matrix (esp. Baudrillard's take on it); The Panopticon (as well as its inverse and reverse, synopticon/omnopticon); Google/Wikiality (compare consensus with Luhmann's reality of the media; and the Truman Show Delusion (TSD); subtlemobs ("try to remain invisible"); in the end, the media put your life at a distance (Shaun Moores), and the opportunities for self-monitoring are endless (Sherry Turkle); see studies on social media use: people generally don't check others (Twitter; Pew 2010); consider Gadamer's "Who Am I And Who Are You?", Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Merleau-Ponty's ideas of living-at-a-distance and Luigi Pirandello's One, No One & One Hundred Thousand; speculative turn in philosophy and the return of the real; Jason Lanier on machines giving people more options to act morally, Van Ess' digital media ethics, and ultimately the unique quality of seeing yourself live in conjunction with a meaning of (media) life (Irving Singer, Rorty's social hope); conclude with life as art (Raoul Vaneigem, Bauman's Art Of Life).

Tagline: Where delusion is the way to keep it real, and you can see yourself live.

Writing Media Life: Day 31

This is more for me than for anyone else... writing is progressing slowly but surely. Find myself trying to manage about 30 open screens (I just love Google Books for finding those hard to locate phrases), multiple windows with text (largely to prevent writing something I've already written somewhere else), and piles and piles of open/closed books, scattered papers, and two cabinets of books staring at me disapprovingly for not having read them yet. But hey - I managed to put 4608 words down for the first chapter! Not necessarily in sequence, and definitely not polished in any way - I suck at polishing anything, really - but they're there. Let me share, for fun, the first draft of the opening paragraph of the book:
"You live in media. Who you are, what you do, and what this means to you does not exist outside of media. This does not mean life is determined by media; it just suggests that whether we like it or not, every aspect of our lives is mediated. This "mediation of everything" is but one aspect of media life.

Part of this kind of life is coming to terms with what has been dramatically described as the "supersaturation" of media images, songs and stories in households, workplaces, elevators, shopping malls, bars, airports, and all the other in-between spaces of today's world.

This overwhelming, empowering, mindless and thoughtful torrent gets fueled not just by attention-hungry global (and local) companies publishing an unrelenting and accelerating stream of media - today, most media content and experiences are produced by you and me: in our endless texts, chats, and e-mails, with our phone calls from anywhere at anytime, and through our online social networks.

With the majority of the world population owning a mobile phone, telecommunication networks spanning almost every inch of the globe, and the sales figures of any and all media devices growing steadily worldwide, an almost complete mediatization of society seems a rather obvious observation. Yet a media life is so much more than just hardware, software, and contents - it is also everything we do with and in response to media. Ultimately, a media life is about how media are both a necessary and unavoidable part of lived experience - from the way we fall in love to how we break up, from how we work and play to how we make sense of the world and our role in it."

PopUp: Second Printing & eBook


Great news today from my friend and co-author Henk Blanken: our recent book PopUp is currently considered for a second printing by our publisher Atlas, and this edition will be "new & improved"... Also, we heard that the book might be released later this year as an eBook - which would befit a "new Media"-based tome. This is really exciting - and largely due to Henk's awesome storytelling and editing skills. The book is in Dutch and deals with the cultural clash between old and new media. Way cool.

Beyond Journalism

UPDATE [November 2011]: After spending a couple of years first doing other things (most notably working on - and finishing - my book on Media Life, I am happy to report that this project is back on the agenda, starting in Spring/Summer 2012. I look forward to graduate student applications for this work, and welcome any and all ideas for collaboration.

Well, I'm really excited: just signed a contract for a new book, scheduled to come out in 2009 2015, with the working title "Beyond Journalism" (Polity Press). As usual, I'd appreciate any feedback and comments, and will post salient bits & pieces as I move along the creative process. For now, for your (and my) information, this is the rough outline of the writing project:

Beyond Journalism locates journalism in the context of digital culture, as this metaphor most adequately pinpoints contemporary concerns in the industry and academy about the changes and challenges facing the media. The book addresses these concerns in six key chapters:

Introduction: Journalism as Social Cement

I. Network Society, Network Journalism

• Key concept: Journalism as a networked practice of producing, editing, forwarding, sharing and debating public information

• Outline: Society today can best be understood in terms of what Manuel Castells calls a "networking logic", where forms of sociality are arranged and organized through connectivity and access to networks. Journalism in such a context therefore can be seen as a set of practices that provide access to networks both local and global - yet not necessarily national. This because, as I argue with Jurgen Habermas, in today's "post-national constellation" the national implies centralized control reinforced through the social systems of the market and politics communicating messages top-down using journalism as intermediary. A network journalism would be a journalism that defines connectivity and access as its primary goals of providing contemporary citizens with the means to self-govern.

II. Journalists, Citizens, Consumers

• Key concept: Journalism as a set of norms, values, and ideas practiced by professionals as well as amateurs

• Outline: Professional journalism has traditionally cast its publics more or less exclusively in terms of their role as audiences, which process tends to get validated through discourses of democratic empowerment (audiences as citizens) or market rhetoric (audiences as consumers). Contemporary publics are anything but citizens in the limited sense – that is, as voters or as candidates for public office – and in terms of their digital media rituals combine consumption with production. This trends gets amplified by the increasing use of users-as-producers by news organizations in an effort to co-opt the emergence of what Yochai Benkler (2006) calls "commons-based peer production" currently taking place online. A comprehensive articulation of journalists with citizens and consumers must therefore rethink the boundaries drawn between these roles.

III. The Local, the Global, and the Glocal

• Key concept: Journalism as an amplifier of globalization and hyperlocalism

• It is especially through media that for most people the world has become glocalized, as Roland Robertson (1995) would have it, where global products, peoples and ideas are re-appropriated locally and vice versa. In this context Barry Wellman signals a contemporary shift from group to glocalized relationships at work and in the community, defining this "glocalization" as a combination of intense local and extensive global interaction. Regarding the role of media in general and journalism in particular, it must be noted that the more communication happens in this networked electronic space, the more people assert their own culture and experience in their localities (as noted by Castells and others). Journalism can thus be seen both as an agent of local corrosion and global cohesion, and vice versa.

IV. Convergence Culture: Multimedia and Citizen Journalism

• Key concept: Journalism and convergence culture: between media, between users and producers

• Outline: Henry Jenkins (2006) typifies the emerging media ecology in terms of a convergence culture, defining the trend as: "[...] both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottomup consumer-driven process. Media companies are learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels to expand revenue opportunities, broaden markets and reinforce viewer commitments. Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users." Jenkins' approach aims to build a bridge between two different but equally important strands of thought regarding the way people respond and give meaning to the role ubiquitous and pervasive media play in their daily lives: participatory media production and individualized media consumption. This observation must be linked with an equally transformative process within media industries that convert their outputs into cross-media properties, stretching content across media as well as co-opting the creative acts of what Jay Rosen famously calls "The People Formerly Known As The Audience" (TPFKATA). Journalism thus becomes at once part of a disruptive top-down (multimedia newsrooms, repurposing content) and a bottom-up (participatory/open source/citizen journalism) process.

V. New Capitalism, Atypical Newswork, and Individual Creativities

• Key concept: Journalism as a Creative Industry

• Outline: Journalism has traditionally been considered as a cultural industry, as a profession primarily responsible for the industrial production and circulation of culture (Hesmondhalgh, 2002). In the ongoing academic debate on the definition of culture (or: cultural) industries media production tends to be emphasized as exclusive or particular to the field of action of the companies and corporations involved. In recent years policymakers, industry observers and scholars alike reconceptualized media work as taking place within a broad context of creative industries. John Hartley (2005) explicitly defines creative industries as an idea that: "seeks to describe the conceptual and practical convergence of the creative arts (individual talent) with cultural industries (mass scale), in the context of new media technologies (ICTs) within a new knowledge economy, for the use of newly interactive citizen-consumers." Journalism as a creative industry is an attempt to reconceptualize newswork in more complex terms that would acknowledge the interconnecting roles of commerce, content, connectivity and creativity in the journalistic process.

VI. What is Journalism?

• Key concepts: Ideology, Culture, Identity

• Outline: When discussing journalism, professional journalists tend to define themselves in ideological terms first - stressing their unique role in society as watchdogs, truth-seekers, and providing a public service. This value-system gets meaning through everyday practices and routines, which in turn impact upon the ways in which newsworkers experience or express their agency in making editorial decisions. This final chapter combines insights and primary data from surveys and interviews with journalists around the world in order to articulate the principal components of journalism's ideology, culture, and identity, and to discuss how the reconceptualizations of journalism as presented in the previous chapters may fit with these components. Ultimately this leads to a coherent and comprehensive definition of 'liquid journalism' – a journalism that truly works in the service of the network society, deeply respects the rights and privileges of each and every interactive citizen-consumer to be a maker and user of his or her own news, and embraces its role as - paraphrasing the late James Carey (1992) - amplifier of the multiple and concurrent conversations post-national society has with itself.

Conclusion: Liquid Journalism