Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The summer 2007 schedule for our "Reading Information Studies" book and beverages group is now in session. Tuition is free and the reading list is short: only three books. Homework includes reading the three books we've chosen, posting some ideas, questions, complaints, or musings to the web site here, and then attending a 3pm Friday discussion session on the Terrace. Any students, faculty, and staff broadly interested in "information studies" are invited to participate. Just send me a message if you'd like to be added as an "author" on the weblog.

The books this year were chosen with various purposes in mind. Several of us are interested in political-economic and cultural issues surrounding copyright, digital rights management, and new media. Tarleton Gillespie's new monograph Wired Shut has been garnering good buzz and as several of us know him (he's at Cornell in their STS department) we're eager to give his work a read. Some of us also know Fernando Elichirigoity, who just earned tenure down at the Univeristy of Illinois, and his work on the connections between information studies and global environmental crises provides a nice forum for us to discuss the sorts of issues that the UW SLIS Sustainability Working Group has recently organized to consider. (We're hoping that both Gillespie and Elichirigoity will contribute to our blog as we read their books.) Finally, diversity in media and technology studies is also a big issue around SLIS, especially with our successful recruiting of a couple of Spectrum scholars as new Ph.D. students arriving in Fall 2007. Thus we hope the volume edited by Nelson, Tu, and Hines on race and technology will be a thought-provoking reading.

Here's the full description of the three books, along with the discussion dates:

Friday June 22 3pm: Tarleton Gillespie, Wired Shut: Copyright and the shape of digital culture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007). [hardcover: $23]

While the public and the media have been distracted by the story of Napster, warnings about the evils of "piracy," and lawsuits by the recording and film industries, the enforcement of copyright law in the digital world has quietly shifted from regulating copying to regulating the design of technology. Lawmakers and commercial interests are pursuing what might be called a technical fix: instead of specifying what can and cannot be done legally with a copyrighted work, this new approach calls for the strategic use of encryption technologies to build standards of copyright directly into digital devices so that some uses are possible and others rendered impossible. In Wired Shut, Tarleton Gillespie examines this shift to “technical copy protection" and its profound political, economic, and cultural implications.

Friday July 20 3pm: Fernando Elichirigoity, Planet Management: Limits to Growth, Computer Simulation, and the Emergence of Global Spaces (Northwestern University Press, 1999). [paper: $28]

Planet Management is a study of, and contribution to, the history of "globality"--the emergence of a complex organization of politics, economics, and culture at a planetary rather than a national level. Drawing on historical archival research as well as recent theoretical work in science studies and critical theory, the book tell the story of the central role of technoscientific discourses and practices in the emergence of globality.

Friday Aug 17 3pm: Alondra Nelson, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, and Alicia Headlam Hines, eds., Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (New York: NYU Press, 2001). [paper; $21]

From Indian H-1B Workers and Detroit techno music to karaoke and the Chicano interneta, TechniColor's specific case studies document the ways in which people of color actually use technology. The results rupture such racial stereotypes as Asian whiz-kids and Black and Latino techno-phobes, while fundamentally challenging many widely-held theoretical and political assumptions.

All discussions will take place on the Memorial Union Terrace (or inside the Rathskellar if it's raining).

We do hope that, in addition your required reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this summer, you will join us as we read and discuss these three important books in the information studies field.

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