Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer reading

This summer's hardly been lazy, to be sure. That said, the break from teaching has given me some time to catch up on my reading. And in that spirit, I thought I'd say a few words about my summer reading list. I'm quite excited about it. They're all academic books, so for those of you anticipating literary recommendations, you'll have to look elsewhere (although recently I enjoyed Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, which just became an Oprah's Book Club selection).

I loved McKenzie Wark's A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard U.P., 2004), and so I was thrilled to pick up Gamer Theory (Harvard U.P., 2007) at the Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa this past April. I wasn't disappointed. Though perhaps a tad uneven compared to Hacker, Gamer Theory is definitely worth reading if you're interested in everyday life, digital (and non-digital) gaming, and what it may be like to live in what Gilles Deleuze has called "a society of control." (This is a theme I develop in my forthcoming book, by the way.)

I met Alex Galloway, author of Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization (MIT Press, 2004), when we were graduate students (he at Duke, me at nearby UNC-Chapel Hill). At the time I didn't really know what he was working on, so I became intrigued when I ran across Protocol about a year or two ago. I knew I'd like it, but I just never had the time to read it--until now. It's a gem. Not only is it an insightful elaboration of how control works in contemporary networked societies, but it's smart about the technical aspects of computer programming and networking. I'd describe it as a "must read" for those interested in new/technology studies.

Friedrich A. Kittler's Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 (Stanford U.P., 1990) is a book that's been in my library for some years now. I've only just begun reading it, so I don't have a whole lot to say at the moment--except that I should have read Discourse Networks ages ago. The foreword provides a wonderful contextualization of Kittler's work, and I'm especially enjoying the "1900" part of the book.

There are two more books that I've been sent recently, both of which I'm hoping to get to before summer's end. Last year on D&R I reviewed Daniel Heller-Roazen's amazing book, Echolalias (Zone Books, 2005). By the good graces of the folks at Zone, Heller-Roazen's latest tome, The Inner Touch: Archaeology of a Sensation, arrived on my doorstep. I can't wait to read it. It's about the perception of perception--a heady topic that couldn't be in more capable hands.

Last but not least on my list is Tarleton Gillespie's Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2007). I had the good fortune of meeting Tarleton at an intellectual property symposium in Iowa in 2005, and we've corresponded off and on since then. As with several of the books on my summer reading list, I suspect it's going to have a lot to say about control. And did I mention I just love the title?

Okay--that's it for now. Of course, I'd welcome any suggestions for further reading.

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