Synopses & Reviews
The internet is often seen as either a great emancipator, spreading knowledge and encouraging free discourse, or a repressive machine fueled by capitalism and surveillance.
In The Digital Frontier, Sangeet Kumar interrogates the World Wide Web in the age of globalization. Particularly, he considers the question of internet governance and the impact of Google, Facebook, and Twitter on a global scale. In doing so, he identifies four theories that bring to light the problems of a culturally and politically democratic global digital network. He analyzes how a global common good is used as a ruse by private corporations, how seemingly collaborative spaces are actually exclusionary due to strict policing of what is considered to be legitimate knowledge, how selfhood is being redefined online by Eurocentric ideals, and how the web has challenged nation states that try to limit access to certain information, like Wikileaks and Google Earth.
The Digital Frontier suggests innovative and nuanced ways of understanding the internet as a powerful tool that is quickly shaping what it means to be global.
Human Rights in the Age of Platforms, Jorgensen (MIT Press, 2019), 9780262039055
The global web and its digital ecosystem can be seen as tools of emancipation, communication and spreading knowledge or as means of repression, fueled by capitalism, surveillance, and control.
The Digital Frontier, attempts an ambitious interrogation of how the most global technology in human history simultaneously heralds a novel form of power whose nature users can perceive but not fully name. The book's analysis reveals that power to operate through the conventions, protocols, standards, and algorithmic regulations that form the web's soft infrastructures. It shows this through analyzing four different sites where the universalizing imperatives of the web run up against local values, norms, and cultures. Kumar's critical analysis of these sites focuses respectively on how the idea of the "global common good" is used as a ruse by private corporations to expand their market-share, how seemingly collaborative spaces can simultaneously be exclusionary as they regulate what counts as legitimate knowledge, how selfhood is being redefined online along Eurocentric ideals, and how the web's challenge is felt differentially by nation states.
In analyzing the nature of power and control on the web, The Digital Frontier is a great read for readers, scholars, activists and students inspired by the utopian dream of a truly representative global digital network that its founders imagined the web to be.