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Alan Kirby


I've always been wary of anything to do with Postmodernism, but when I saw Alan Kirby's book Digimodernism: how new technologies dismantle the postmodern and reconfigure our culture I thought it might be worth reading.

The book starts with a look at other claims of the death of postmodernism, which it seems often come from small groups insisting that their idea is going to be the next big thing. Kirby's claim is not like this, the ubiquity of digital technology is fairly indisputable. He compares the user generated content of Web 2.0 with earlier ideas of the reader's role in accessing literary works, but is keen to point out that Web 2.0 is far from delivering the collaborative works which some might have hoped for. The book also looks at changes in popular entertainment, showing how children's films, for example, depend more and more on references to earlier works.

Kirby comes from a postmodernist background, so his style of writing might not suit all readers, but I felt that in predicting the end of postmodernism he distanced himself somewhat from its worst excesses. If you would like to see a different take on the digital revolution then you may well find it of interest.

Product Description

A bold new challenge to postmodern theory
The increasing irrelevance of postmodernism requires a new theory to underpin our current digital culture. Almost without anybody noticing, a new cultural paradigm has taken center stage, displacing an exhausted and increasingly marginalized postmodernism. Alan Kirby calls this cultural paradigm digimodernism, a name comprising both its central technical mode and the privileging of fingers and thumbs inherent in its use.

Beginning with the Internet (digimodernism's most important locus), then taking into account television, cinema, computer games, music, radio, etc., Kirby analyzes the emergence and implications of these diverse media, coloring our cultural landscape with new ideas on texts and how they work. This new kind of text produces distinctive forms of author and reader/viewer, which, in turn, lead to altered notions of authority, 'truth' and legitimization. With users intervening physically in the creation of texts, our electronically-dependent society is becoming more involved in the grand narrative.

To clarify these trends, Kirby compares them to the contrasting tendencies of the preceding postmodern era. In defining this new cultural age, the author avoids both facile euphoria and pessimistic fatalism, aiming instead to understand and thereby gain control of a cultural mode which seems, as though from nowhere, to have engulfed our society.

With new technologies unfolding almost daily, this work will help to categorize and explain our new digital world and our place in it, as well as equip us with a better understanding of the digital technologies that have a massive impact on our culture.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews