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New Media We Recommend

February 10, 2012

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, by Douglas Rushkoff – Living in an increasingly digital world, despite all the claims of freedom and wonder, does come with consequences, political, social, cultural and personal. In his newest book, Douglas Rushkoff gives us another gem. The media & culture theorist presents ten ideas or guidelines about how we might navigate in the online world. Many of these notions are not likely to be new to people, but Rushkoff presents a fresh take on the implications of human interaction in the digital world. The author discusses the amount of time we spend online rather than in person, whether that is in person with others or just ourselves. Program or Be Programmed also takes on issues of online identity, scale, complexity and choice. In addition, the author challenges us with the notion that the less we know about programming in the digital world will likely result in our collectively being programmed. What the author means by that is that we will often begin within the framework of interaction and information that has been determined by someone else, not through our own initiative and creativity. An important book for those grappling with digital reality and its social implications.

Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and The Great Games, by Eric Walberg – The political term The Great Game first came into use in the 19th Century referring to the political conflict between Russia and Great Britain. Ironically, this conflict was best manifested in both countries desire to control and rule what is now modern day Afghanistan. The author uses The Great Game theme as he explores geopolitics, particularly in the Middle East. Walberg presents a very interesting thesis on the major applications of The Great Game theory over the past 100 years and identifies three “rules” for how it is applied, particularly by the US. The three “rule” are; 1) neoliberal trade policies supported by international finance; 2) imperial wars and occupation and; 3) Empire exceptionalism, which is really a reference to US global policy. The book is well sourced and covers a great deal of historical ground, although at times unnecessarily. However, Postmodern Imperialism is a value resource for anyone wanting to understand global geopolitics and contemporary US foreign policy.

Bad News: How America’s Business Press Missed the Story of the Century, edited by Anya Schiffrin – How is it that there was so little reporting on the impending financial crisis in 2008 by the mainstream news media? This is one of the main questions answered by numerous writers in this interesting collection of essays on the US news media’s role in the recent global financial meltdown. Some authors argue that the mainstream news media generally reports the official narrative on economic matters and rarely steps outside the accepted economic framework. Other contributors discuss the media through a class lens as large corporate entities who are financially tied to the world of Wall Street and therefore have no incentive to report on the policies and practices of the financial sector. There are also a few writers whose critique centers more on the decades long decline of journalism in the US their failure to hold both political and financial power accountable. A worthy collective of articles with analysis that would be helpful to anyone who wanted to better understand the 2008 economic crisis.

Plastic Planet (DVD) – A fascinating documentary that looks at the often hidden realities of plastic in the modern world. Directed by Werner Boote, investigates how plastic is produced, how it is used and more importantly the environmental and health consequences of a powerful global industry. The film uses archival footage from 1950s US Tupperware parties to industry promotional video that stands in sharp contrast to the devastating impact of the fossil fuel and chemical based product known as plastic. Plastics are so pervasive that they are now is all the major bodies of water, in the soil, in the bodies of fish, birds, other species and humans. The film has great production value and provides viewers with a wealth of information on one of the most pervasive and toxic substances current used by most of the world.

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