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November 04, 2001

New Books

Gee, school gets started and the next time you turn around, it's already November. Pathetic.

I assigned three new books in my course New Media and a Democratic Society this fall:

  • Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. New York: Crown, 2001.
  • Gray, Chris Hables. Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age. London: Routledge, 2001.
  • Lessig, Lawrence. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

We finished reading Gray about three weeks ago. Gray is definitely a postmodern writer and scholar, but what makes this book especially good for grad students in mass communication is this: Gray does not indulge in complex or obscure wordplay, and the structure of his book is pretty coherent. That is, his book *IS* structured, not just a rant or a cut-and-paste exercise. (This is a problem with many of the cyborg society books I have looked at, and that will just put off my students; mass comm. students are not the same as English majors.)

Probably the most useful thing in the book is Gray's Cyborg Bill of Rights, which creates a good opening for discussing human rights and how conceptions of rights might change as technology changes.

Gray manages to bring out most (or maybe all) of the issues and major points associated with our path to becoming posthuman. He's not a dilletante; he has read his stuff. The book can be criticized as overly general, but that suited my purposes well in this course.

Biggest disappointments for me: Not enough depth on the issues closest to citizenship and democracy. Not enough explication of the role of prostheses in postmodernity. Since Gray's "epistemology of cyborgs" is "Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, prosthesis, and again," it would have been good to explore the idea of extensions of the mind and body, a la Hayles and McLuhan.

Posted by macloo at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)