A student is reading a book. A message beeps from an iPhone. Eyes flick to the screen in curiosity. During the glance from paper to screen, an iPod continues to shuffle a soundtrack.

From screen to sound, from paper to pixels, digital cultures accompany, replace and cannibalise earlier platforms and meaning systems. In Digital Cultures, Milad Doueihi probes these accelerated movements, migrations and manifestations. First published in French in 2008 as La Grand Conversion Numérique, the book’s English-language version has not been updated. As a result, social networking is underplayed.

But while it may seem unwise to leave the text unchanged considering the rapidity of software and hardware transformation, Doueihi’s argument remains revelatory and important. He presents the diversity of digital practices and the importance of digital literacy in an increasingly complex textual environment. Moving beyond basic functional literacy, Doueihi asks how digitisation configures a meta-literacy, “of what it means to be literate”.

The book’s four sections – “Digital divides and the emerging digital literacy”, “Blogging the city”, “Software tolerance in the land of dissidence” and “Archiving the future” – align to investigate new relationships between the production and communication of knowledge and the transformations of past modes of reading and thinking.

The innovative concept created and developed throughout the book is “anthology”. Doueihi defines this as “constituted by assembling various pieces of material under a unifying cover, and for the use of an individual or a group brought together by a common interest”. Such a mode of reading is comparative, collaborative and decontextualised. A wiki-enabled form of bricolage, the “new sociability” through social networks gathers references into an innovative anthology.

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