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Culture and Technology

A Primer

Jennifer Daryl Slack and J. Macgregor Wise

From mobile phones to surveillance cameras, from fracking to genetically modified food, we live in an age of intense debate about technology’s place in our culture. Culture and Technology is an essential guide to that debate and its fascinating history. It is a primer for beginners and an invaluable resource for those deeply committed to understanding the new digital culture. The award-winning first edition (2005) has been comprehensively updated to incorporate new technologies and contemporary theories about them. Slack and Wise untangle and expose cultural assumptions that underlie our thinking about technology, stories so deeply held we often don’t recognize their influence. The book considers the perceived inevitability of technological progress, the role of control and convenience, and the very sense of what technology is. It considers resistance to dominant stories by Luddites, the Unabomber, and the alternative technology movement. Most important, it builds an alternative, cultural studies approach for engaging technological culture, one that considers politics, economics, space, time, identity, and change. After all, what we think and what we do make a difference.
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OUR DEBTS ARE MANY. Our families, first and foremost, deserve our sustained gratitude for, well, just about everything. Jennifer thanks Kenny Svenson, Pam Pels, Joe Pels, Linda Jantzen, Sue Slack, Laura Pagel, and a whole pack of dogs. Greg thanks Elise Wise, Catherine Wise, Brennen Wise; Donna and Tracy Wise; Sue and Carl Dimon; two dogs, and one cat.

The scholarly friends who have inspired and supported us constitute the most treasured part of the intellectual life. Thank you to Lawrence Grossberg, Stuart Hall, James Carey, Langdon Winner, Patty Sotirin, Kim Sawchuk, Sarah Sharma, Matt Soar, Jonathan Sterne, Anne Balsamo, Gil Rodman, Greg Seigworth, John Nguyet Erni, Mark Andrejevic, Steve Wiley, Ted Striphas, Charles Stivale, James Hay, Gordon Coonfield, Toby Miller, Andrew Herman, Ron Greene, Mehdi Semati, Meaghan Morris, Paul Bowman, Jody Berland, Jeremy Packer, Melissa Adams, Bryan Behrenhausen, Phaedra Pezzullo, Rob Poe, and Rob Spicer. Jennifer thanks the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University, especially her colleagues and graduate students in communication and cultural studies. Jennifer thanks Kette Thomas, Sue Collins, Stefka Hristova, Randy Harrison, Nate Carpenter, Mies Martin, Becky Soderna, and Wenjing Liu. She also thanks the Communication Department at North Carolina State University for support as a visiting professor. Greg thanks the faculty and staff of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, especially the folks in Communication Studies.

For enduring friendship outside the academy that brings balance and perspective to our lives, Jennifer thanks...

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