My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This review originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of “Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication”.
The adage holds true: don’t judge a book by its cover, especially in the case of Digital Media & Society. While the book’s cover contains a whimsical photograph of a squirrel wielding a flamethrower, do not be fooled into thinking that the contents are equally whimsical. What lies within is a complex and detailed analysis of modern society and how digital information impacts it.
Lindgren presents an intense examination of society in the digital age. He breaks the book into four main sections: theories, topics, tools, and a conclusion. Each section is further divided into topics ranging from social media, to digital activism, to digital ethnography. Chapters begin with a callout highlighting key concepts and questions to be addressed by the chapter. For example, “How does the evolution of digital society relate to visual culture?” appears at the start of Chapter 6, Digital Visuality and Visibility (p. 109). Embedded within each chapter are exercises, such as, “Try to speculate about different things that might motivate people to take and share [selfies].…In a sociological sense: What does a selfie ‘say’?” (p. 114). Concluding each chapter are lists of suggested further reading materials. The chapter’s structure contains those elements but tied into a careful presentation and study of a given concept. Sources are cited, and examples given to provide context and to illustrate the concept Lindgren is examining. In this manner, he introduces you to a concept, provides the history of that concept, dissects it from a sociological viewpoint, while engaging you to think critically about the issue.
Overall, Digital Media & Society provides an insightful, in-depth investigation of modern society and how different forms of media affect it. Contemporary electronic media and their predecessors are well represented, ranging from an old school bulletin board system (BBS), to Snapchat, to Eric Snowden. If you are interested in learning about electronic media and why it affects your life and impacts the world today, then Digital Media & Society is a resource for you, even if you get it as a paperback and not digitally on your Kindle.