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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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I used to think that writing a book was an absurd idea. Why would one spend so much time, researching, reading, and synthesizing information for an imagined audience—one who may not really care about the premise of the book anyway? Then I began teaching. As a professor, I prided myself on having read many books. I assigned books that I enjoyed to my students and passed on the knowledge of my favorite authors and scholars through their pages. Writing books in general wasn’t such an absurdity, I reasoned. It would just be absurd for me to write one.

One day after teaching a Dark Side of Media and Technology class, the class from which this book draws its inspiration, a group of students working on their final project asked if there was a Dark Side textbook that they could use as a reference. I mentioned that there were a number of relevant journal articles and book chapters that would be sufficient for their needs, but, unfortunately, no dedicated Dark Side book, per se. Uninterested in my response, and still wishing that there were one, comprehensive resource for this topic, they suggested that I should write one.

I quickly dismissed the idea. I brought it up again later to an academic friend for a laugh. “Why don’t you?” he asked. It was the first time I had really actually considered it. Sure, there were parts of other books and published manuscripts that...

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