Some insight on The Digital Turn

Below are some questions I answered for my publisher in a kind of interview about my book. This should give you some background on The Digital Turn, what readers can expect and why it’s important for every 21st-century citizen:

1. How did you come to write this book? What was your motivation?

I decided to write this book to counter the confusion that goes with the ever-growing parade of new digital media.

We easily go astray in the patchwork-like, highly fragmented domain of media, which is continually changing by new services and devices. It is difficult to establish a coherent idea about the impact and role of these new virtual spaces, and what the significance or position of a particular medium would be.

  • Main focus on operational skills involving media, e.g. pressing the right buttons, but not being aware of the changing landscapes
  • Today’s breath taking era of emerging digital media and the changes these bring about
  • My professional engagement in blogs, columns and presentations about (digital) media
  • The tendency of people to adopt a naive instrumental view about new inventions, like digital media, which means that new media are viewed as neutral instruments that just facilitate our lives (e.g. make things easier, faster, cheaper). However, history shows that media aren’t just useful tools, but have a substantive impact on the ways we arrange our lives.

2. Who does the book appeal to and why?

The book addresses anyone who frequents the Internet, or uses a smartphone, computer or tablet. So this is really a wide audience, basically everyone who uses modern media: who doesn’t? The book will be particularly relevant for teachers, media designers and other people professionally engaged in media, including journalists, web moderators, game designers, advertising agents, educational technologists, film makers and TV makers.

The premise of this book is that we should understand the basic determinants and mechanisms of media, meaning and cognition rather than focus merely on particular aspects or devices that happen to be in vogue. This book describes the underlying machinery of mediated communication and the ways we derive meaning from it. It provides a transcending media perspective that connects various media types and anticipates future developments in the field. Practically, the book is an indispensable aid for every 21st century citizen.

3. What one thing do you want readers to learn/take away from this work?

Readers should become aware of both the great opportunities of new, networked media and the possible drawbacks. The purpose of the book is to enable them to become digital media literate, to understand the processes and mechanisms (not technically) that underlie these media. They should become critical information gatherers, which enables them to make sense of the unstructured, fragmented flow of messages and to help them to establish and contribute to the self-correcting nature of online communities. Readers should become aware of distortions, manipulations and deceptions of mediated representations, and they should be motivated to keep their media literacy and self-directedness up to date.

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