Elizabeth Losh – Virtualpolitik


The MIT Press, ISBN 978-0262123044, USA, 2009, English
In middle nineties EFF founder John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” formalizing the new autonomy from the real world bureaucracy and its walls as felt then by the Internet elite. Among the different statements it still can be read as a mounting impatience with digitally illiterate bureaucrats and their failing rhetoric, generated by a growing fear of an open and connected digital society. Unfortunately, after more than a decade governmental and institutional ideological use of digital media hasn’t dramatically evolved. That’s the field attentively researched by Elizabeth Losh in this book. Institutional branding, public diplomacy, social marketing and risk communication are among the public activities that institutions are embarking on, coordinated with major advertisement agencies and targeting the web as the new frontier of attention. In ten chapters with ten respective examples analyzed, the author explores the rhetoric and some of the consequent accidents that institutions have faced. Old rules and antiquated behaviours totally misunderstand and misinterpret Internet culture, often with hilarious consequences. One of the major faults has been ignoring the fact that digital information is not cast in stone, and is prone to be sampled, de-contextualized, manipulated and remixed at will for any purpose by any citizen (or group of them). For many, the Internet has become the first (or most reliable) source of information, and this analysis of institutional communication (from interfaces to interpretations, from accidents to satire) is a major study in the field.