Not Just Fancy Television
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Book: 64 Things You Need to Know for Then: How to Face the Digital Future Without Fear
Author: Ben Hammersley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Price: Rs 595
Let us begin by acknowledging that when the world was learning how to drive on the information highway, Ben Hammersley was out there, instructing us how to do it best. So it doesn't surprise that 64 Things You Need to Know for Then: How to Face the Digital Future Without Fear, despite its untweetable title, is quite spot-on when it comes to describing our digital pasts, demystifying our interweb presents and preparing us for technosocial futures. Well-written, interspersed with illustrative anecdotes, reflective experiences and speculative ideas, the book looks at the good, the bad and the downright bizarre that the digital turn has introduced in our lives. Working through moments of nostalgia for things that have already become obsolete, and through experiences that morph even before we can comprehend them, Hammersley writes (or, as he suggests in his introduction — co-writes with hundreds of anonymous contributors) a book that is readable, for those seeking to understand how the digital world moves and those who want to remember their own role in shaping forgotten trends.
The book also attempts to answer some of the troublesome tensions in our understanding of our contemporary digital lives. Hammersley's basic intention in writing the book is to show how technological shifts are not merely about changing usage patterns. It radically (and often dramatically) restructures our domains of life, language and labour. Older structures have become redundant and the new ones have not yet found their feet. There are many who attempt to think of the internet as a mere extension of older media practices. But as he says, "The internet is absolutely not just fancy television." It is a technology that is reshaping everything we had understood about who we are and how we relate to the world around us.