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The Social Media Reader

Michael Mandiberg

Publication Year: 2012

With the rise of web 2.0 and social media platforms taking over vast tracts of territory on the internet, the media landscape has shifted drastically in the past 20 years, transforming previously stable relationships between media creators and consumers.  The Social Media Reader is the first collection to address the collective transformation with pieces on social media, peer production, copyright politics, and other aspects of contemporary internet culture from all the major thinkers in the field.

Culling a broad range and incorporating different styles of scholarship from foundational pieces and published articles to unpublished pieces, journalistic accounts, personal narratives from blogs, and whitepapers, The Social Media Reader promises to be an essential text, with contributions from Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Clay Shirky, Tim O'Reilly, Chris Anderson, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, and Fred von Loehmann, to name a few. It covers a wide-ranging topical terrain, much like the internet itself, with particular emphasis on collaboration and sharing, the politics of social media and social networking, Free Culture and copyright politics, and labor and ownership. Theorizing new models of collaboration, identity, commerce, copyright, ownership, and labor, these essays outline possibilities for cultural democracy that arise when the formerly passive audience becomes active cultural creators, while warning of the dystopian potential of new forms of surveillance and control. 

Published by: NYU Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-x

First and foremost, I thank the many authors who contributed to this volume. I thank both those who created new essays and those who gave their works a Creative Commons license that permitted me to use them here. If it were not for the freedom offered...

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pp. 1-10

Beginning with the printing press, technological innovations have enabled the dissemination of more and more media forms over broader and broader audiences. This mass media built and maintained a unidirectional relationship between...

Part I: Mechanisms

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pp. 11-67

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1. The People Formerly Known as the Audience

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pp. 13-16

The people formerly known as the audience wish to inform media people of our existence, and of a shift in power that goes with the platform shift you’ve all heard about. Think of passengers on your ship...

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2. Sharing Nicely: On Shareable Goods and the Emergence of Sharing as a Modality of Economic Production

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pp. 17-23

The world’s fastest supercomputer and the second-largest commuter transportation system in the United States function on a resource-management model that is not well specified in contemporary economics. Both SETI@home, a distributed computing...

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3. Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source

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pp. 24-31

The “open source” way of doing things is all the rage. Companies as powerful and established as IBM boast of using Linux operating systems in its servers. Publications as conservative as The Economist have pronounced open-source methods...

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4. What Is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software

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pp. 32-52

The bursting of the dot-com bubble in the fall of 2001 marked a turning point for the web. Many people concluded that the web was over-hyped, when in fact bubbles and consequent shakeouts appear to be a common feature of all technological...

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5. What Is Collaboration Anyway?

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pp. 53-67

Information technology informs and structures the language of networked collaboration. Terms like “sharing,” “openness,” “user-generated content,” and “participation” have become so ubiquitous that too often they tend to be conflated...

Part II: Sociality

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pp. 69-96

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6. Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle

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pp. 71-76

I love filling out surveys, but I’m always stumped when I’m asked how many hours per day I spend online. I mean, what counts as online? I try to answer this through subtraction. I start by subtracting the hours that I sleep (~7.5 if I’m lucky). But then...

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7. From Indymedia to Demand Media: Journalism’s Visions of Its Audience and the Horizons of Democracy

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pp. 77-96

This chapter focuses on journalism—a particular subcategory of media production where user-generated content has been adopted in significant but contested ways. Underlying the chapter is a more general claim that the tensions within...

Part III: Humor

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pp. 97-134

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8. Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls: The Politics of Transgression and Spectacle

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pp. 99-119

Among academics, journalists, and hackers, it is common to define hackers not only by their inquisitive demeanor, the extreme joy they garner from uninterrupted hacking sprints, and the technological artifacts they create but also by...

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9. The Language of Internet Memes

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pp. 120-134

In The Future of the Internet—and How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain describes the features of a generative network. A generative network encourages and enables creative production and, as a system, possesses leverage, adaptability, ease of mastery...

Part IV: Money

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pp. 135-151

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10. The Long Tail

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pp. 137-151

In 1988, a British mountain climber named Jo Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews, but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade...

Part V: Law

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pp. 153-199

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11. REMIX: How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law

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pp. 155-169

I’ve written five books. Four of these books are extraordinarily depressing. I like depressing, deep, dark stories about the inevitable destruction of great, fantastic ideas. After my first child was born, my thinking began to shift some...

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12. Your Intermediary Is Your Destiny

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pp. 170-177

Although digital technologies are famous for “disintermediating” creators and audiences, the vast majority of video creators still depend on intermediaries to reach their audiences. Whether creators are making a film for theatrical...

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13. On the Fungibility and Necessity of Cultural Freedom

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pp. 178-186

I’ve been involved in the copyright-reform and free-culture space for almost a decade. I’ve protested record companies, organized free-culture art shows, and released thousands of my own photos under various Creative Commons licenses...

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14. Giving Things Away Is Hard Work: Three Creative Commons Case Studies

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pp. 187-199

Open-source software and the free-culture movement have created vibrant and thriving sharing-based online communities. These communities and individuals have created an enormous quantity of open-source and free-culture projects...

Part VI: Labor

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15. Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry

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pp. 203-235

Shooting in garages and basement rec rooms, rendering F/X on home computers, and ripping music from CDs and MP3 files, fans have created new versions of the Star Wars (1977) mythology. In the words of Star Wars or Bust director...

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16. Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

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pp. 236-241

I was recently reminded of something I read in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian who argued that the critical technology for the early phase of the Industrial Revolution was gin. The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden...

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17. Between Democracy and Spectacle: The Front-End and Back-End of the Social Web

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pp. 242-256

As more of our data, and the programs to manipulate and communicate this data, move online, there is a growing tension between the dynamics on the front-end (where users interact) and on the back-end (to which the owners have...

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18. DIY Academy? Cognitive Capitalism, Humanist Scholarship, and the Digital Transformation

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pp. 257-274

The University of Michigan Press recently sent me (and other authors who have published with the press) an e-mail announcing the debut of a “transformative scholarly publishing model,” the product of a cooperative agreement...

About the Contributors

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pp. 275-278


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pp. 279-289

E-ISBN-13: 9780814763025
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814764053
Print-ISBN-10: 0814764053

Publication Year: 2012