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Robert W. Gehl

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Reverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism (Temple University Press, 2014) by Robert Gehl (University of Utah, Department of Communication) explores the architecture and political economy of social media. Gehl analyzes the ideas of social media and software engineers, using these ideas to find contradictions and fissures beneath the surfaces of glossy sites such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The book draws upon software studies, science and technology studies, and political economy to contextualize the institutionalization of user labor in our growing social media landscape. Looking backward at divisions of labor and the process of user labor, he provides case studies that illustrate how binary "Like" consumer choices hide surveillance systems that rely on users to build content for site owners who make money selling user data, and that promote a culture of anxiety and immediacy over depth. Gehl also goes beyond a critique of these inherently undemocratic systems to outline proposals that can shape our collective online future for the better. An idealized social data system, he argues, should be “decentralized, transparent, encrypted, antiarchival, stored on free hardware, and geared toward collective politics over atomization and depth over immediacy and surfaces.”

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Daniel FeiersteinGenocide as Social Practice: Reorganizing Society under the Nazis and Argentina’s Military Juntas

April 10, 2015

So I should start out with a confession. I don't know much about the  history of Argentina (I said something similar about Guatemala a year or so ago on the program).  And I don't think it would have occurred to me to do a comparative study Argentina and Nazi Germany.  Fortunately, Daniel Feierstein was more […]

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Caroline Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward Walker, eds.Democratizing Inequalities: Dilemma of the New Public Participation

April 6, 2015

Caroline Lee, Michael McQuarrie, and Edward Walker are the editors of Democratizing Inequalities: Dilemma of the New Public Participation (NYU Press 2015). Lee is associate professor of sociology at Lafayette College, McQuarrie is associate professor of sociology at London School of Economics and Political Science, and Walker is associate professor of sociology at the University […]

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Abdelwahab El-AffendiGenocidal Nightmares: Narratives of Insecurity and the Logic of Mass Atrocities

March 25, 2015

Genocide studies is one of the few academic fields with which I'm acquainted which is truly interdisciplinary in approach and composition.  Today's guest Abdelwahab El-Affendi, and the book he has edited, Genocidal Nightmares: Narratives of Insecurity and the Logic of Mass Atrocities (Bloomsbury Academic 2014), is an excellent example of how this works out in […]

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Robert PutnamOur Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

March 23, 2015

Robert Putnam is the author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon and Schuster, 2015). Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. He has written fourteen books including the best-seller, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Few political scientists command attention like Robert […]

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James A. Holstein, Richard S. Jones, and George Koonce, Jr.Is There Life After Football?: Surviving the NFL

March 17, 2015

The health of former NFL players has received plenty of attention in recent years. The suicides of Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, along with stories of retired players in only their 40s and 50s affected by dementia and ALS, have revealed the toll that a professional football career can take on a man’s body and […]

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Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America

March 15, 2015

Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos are the authors of Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America (Oxford University Press, 2014). McAdam is The Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University and the former Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Kloos is a scholar of political […]

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Donna J. DruckerThe Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

March 10, 2015

Donna J. Drucker is a guest professor at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. Her book The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge (University of Pittsburg Press, 2014) is an in-depth and detailed study of Kinsey’s scientific approach. The book examines his career and method of gathering vast amounts of data, identifying […]

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Edward Telles and PERLAPigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race and Color in Latin America

March 9, 2015

How do race, ethnicity and appearance work on Latin America? Edward Telles' and the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America's (PERLA) new book Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race and Color in Latin America (UNC Press, 2014) shatters the idea that there is a single answer to that question, and proceeds instead with probing studies of four […]

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Victoria HesfordFeeling Women’s Liberation

March 6, 2015

Victoria Hesford is an associated professor of Women and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University in New York. Her book Feeling Women’s Liberation (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the pivotal year of 1970 as defining the meaning of “women’s liberation.” Applying a theory of emotions to the rhetoric of mass media and the response of movement […]

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