[BOOK REVIEW] This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (re online trolling)

30596_This-is-Why-We-Cant-Have-Nice-Things-Mapping-the-Relationship-Between-Online-Trolling-and-Mainstream-Culture-by-Whitney-PhillipsThis looks really interesting:

Why do trolls exist? How can such hostile online behaviour be understood intellectually, culturally and socially? Put another way: is the notorious Pedobear character “lulz” (hilarious) or an ambivalent tour guide through child pornography?

For her recent doctorate, communications scholar Whitney Phillips conducted an ethnography of these groups by entering the trolling subculture. Drawing on that research, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things considers whether trolling is a deviant subculture or a more universalised online practice. As is common in digital media studies, while Phillips argues for the generalisability of trolling attitudes and practices, her dataset is restricted to the US.

Her book, which will be useful for theorists of digital ethnography, considers the subcultural origins of trolling (2003-07), its golden years (2008-11) as well as a transitional period (2012-15). Phillips is concerned with “the self-identifying, subcultural troll”, drawing a distinction between these practices and simple online cyberbullying. Her challenge was to study this community but not to “replicate trolls’ racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist output”, which prompts a wider intellectual question about how to create a space for researching social patterns that cause harm to others

Read full review, and see piece I wrote on social media trolling last year.

[REVIEW] Bible Intro by @ChrisJuby

bibleintro_cover_120Pleased to have endorsed Chris Juby’s book: a “user-friendly Bible overview, written as an introduction for those new to Scripture and as a useful reference for experienced readers.”

“You’ve never been able to get a solid overview of the Bible so quickly. Juby clearly draws on a deep and passionate knowledge of the material, and clearly hopes to encourage us both back to the original text, and to transformational living.”

Dr Bex Lewis, Director of The BIGBible Project and author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’

Watch Chris introduce the book here:

Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains, by Susan Greenfield

23568_book-review-mind-change-by-susan-greenfieldA review by Tara Brabazon:

Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist with a high media profile, and this, her latest book, is aimed at the “general” (Daily Mail) reader. The accompanying publicity material refers to Greenfield as a “professional neuroscientist”. This adjective must be reassuring. An “amateur neuroscientist” would be a problem. Greenfield built her academic career on the study of dementia rather than digitisation, but this latter focus has now become a “professional” fixation.

The book is organised into 20 short chapters. Social networking, gaming, mobile phones and Google make up the laundry list of threats to society. The problem that undermines Mind Change is a lack of disciplinary expertise in digital cultures.

Read full review.

'The App Generation' – Review by @tarabrabazon

9780300196214The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

Any book featuring the phrase “today’s youth” in the subtitle immediately has me on edge. It conjures up a generation gap, “tune in, turn on, drop out” and brown acid. Updating this story, we enter a world of Miley Cyrus’ piercings, twerking and tongue aerobics.

The embrace between “youth” and “technology” is as unstable as a soap opera romance. Understanding the sociology of digitisation – who uses particular software and hardware and why – requires much more research than simply assuming that “the young people” have Bluetooth connectivity between their mobile phone and their mastoid.

Howard Gardner (professor of cognition and education at Harvard University) and Katie Davis (assistant professor in the University of Washington’s Information School) have been seduced by the digital dance between youth and technology. This co-authored book sees them entering the Clay Shirky zone of easy answers to difficult questions.

Read full review… especially worth the last comment comparing the book to ‘digital tweaking’.

BOOK REVIEW: Ambient Commons

9780262018807This, from the reviewer in Times Higher Education made me laugh:

I have a confession. You know those people on footpaths who randomly slow down, stop, veer from side to side and shout into their hand for no particular reason? No, not the Friday-night revellers who have ingested three litres of Grey Goose vodka and lose their motor skills. I refer to the people who read and compose text messages while walking. I do not titter or sigh as I pass them. Instead, I slow down and mimic their John Cleese-inspired silly walk. In reaction, most swing around and shriek “wotthehellyudoin?” I merely reply, “Following your lead. I thought you were starting a trend. No one would look that silly unless it was fashionable.”

Then refers to the book:

The proliferation of platforms, formats and screens means that we now manage an array of augmentations in our lives. McCullough develops a concept to explore these alignments between technology and context, concentration and distraction, information and overload, absence and abundance. He calls it “ambient commons”, a way to align “the quickly rising flood of data” and “attention to surroundings”.

Read full book.

BOOK REVIEW: @SheridanVoysey “Resurrection Year”

Sheridan Voysey - Resurrection Year

Today, this book, from someone I have been incredibly privileged to come to know over the past couple of years, is available for sale:

Having received this book, I settled down to read a chapter before bedtime. A couple of hours later I turned the final page of this beautifully written story that had truly drawn me in with it’s honest insight into a agonizingly difficult journey. The depth of emotion is deeply felt – we share times of both joy and bleakness, with particular authenticity given through original diary extracts which have that unfinished rawness my favourite blogs do. Several sections of the book are eminently tweetable, but this is not a story of simple soundbites: choices are stark and unpleasant, the doubts are heavy, and the questions about suffering and why prayers had gone unanswered are deeply painful.

Read full review on The BIGBible Project.