Nicole StarosielskiThe Undersea Network

Duke University Press, 2015

by Carla Nappi on August 25, 2015

Nicole Starosielski

View on Amazon

Nicole Starosielski's new book brings an environmental and ecological consciousness to the study of digital media and digital systems, and it is a must-read. The Undersea Network (Duke University Press, 2015) looks carefully and imaginatively at the geography of undersea cable networks, paying special attention to the materiality of network infrastructure and its relationships with the histories of the Pacific. The book revises what we think we know about the infrastructure of global networks: they are not "wireless," but wired; not rhizomatic and distributed, but semicentralized; not deterritorialized, but "territorially entrenched"; not resilient, but precarious and vulnerable; and not urban, but rural and aquatic. After providing a broad overview of three major eras of cable development – the copper cables of the 1850s-1950s, the coaxial cables of the 1950s-1980s, and the fiber-optic cables of the 1990s on, in each case focusing on the importance of security, insulation, and interconnection – Starosielski analyzes how cables have become embedded into existing natural and cultural environments in a number of specific sites in Hawai'i, California, New Zealand, British Columbia, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji, Yap, and beyond. Countering the rhetorical pull of terms like "flow" that tend to provoke an approach to media that is deterritorializing and dematerializing, Starosielski instead turns readers' attention to the ecological dimension of media and the fixed, material investments grounding today's communication networks. It is a brilliant book that deserves a wide readership.

Don't miss the website that is woven together with the book:

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Randy NicholsThe Video Game Business

August 16, 2015

Video games have become an important cultural and economic force in our media environment. In his new book, The Video Game Business (British Film Institute, 2014), scholar Randy Nichols provides an overview of the increasingly diverse global market for video games. Nichols locates the origins of the video game industry back to the dawn of […]

Read the full article →

Christopher VitaleNetworkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age

August 12, 2015

Networks seem to be the dominant metaphor for contemporary society. In Networkologies: A Philosophy of Networks for a Hyperconnected Age (Zero Books, 2014), Christopher Vitale sets out a manifesto for understanding and using networks as the basis of a new philosophy. The book draws on continental philosophy, complex systems theory and a range of other elements […]

Read the full article →

MK Czerwiec, Ian Williams, Susan Merrill Squier, Michael J. Green, Kimberly R. Myers, and Scott T. SmithGraphic Medicine Manifesto

July 24, 2015

Physician/author Ian Williams coined the term "graphic medicine" to "denote the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare." The robust emerging graphic medicine community can be witnessed in its website and annual conference, as well as in the profusion of fascinating graphic medicine texts created from a range of perspectives, […]

Read the full article →

Michael Ray FitzGeraldNative Americans on Network TV: Stereotypes, Myths, and the ‘Good Indian’

July 24, 2015

In his new book Native Americans on Network TV: Stereotypes, Myths, and the 'Good Indian' (Rowman and Littlefield, 2013), Michael Ray FitzGerald reviews how television represented Native Americans, including in both positive and negative stereotypes. He talks about these portrayals from early television shows to more recent characterizations.  

Read the full article →

Jonathan CoopersmithFaxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine

July 17, 2015

Jonathan Coopersmith's new book takes readers through the century-and-a-half-long history of the fax machine and the technologies that shaped and were shaped by it, from Alexander Bain's 1843 patent to the computer-based faxing of the end of the 20th century. Faxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) chronicles the […]

Read the full article →

James A. SecordVisions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age

July 3, 2015

James A. Secord's new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Emerging from the 2013 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a fascinating exploration of books and their readers during […]

Read the full article →

Christian FuchsCulture and Economy in the Age of Social Media

June 28, 2015

Social media is now a pervasive element of many people's lives. in order to best understand this phenomenon we need a comprehensive theory of the political economy of social media. In Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media (Routledge, 2015), Christian Fuchs, a professor of social media at the University of Westminster, brings together a […]

Read the full article →

Greg SiegelForensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity

May 26, 2015

Greg Siegel's new book is a wonderfully engaging and meticulously researched account of a dual tendency in modern technological life: treating forensic knowledge of accident causation as a key to solving the accident, and treating this knowledge as the source for the future improvement of both technology and civilization. Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity […]

Read the full article →

Jon L. MillsPrivacy in the New Media Age

May 25, 2015

That privacy in the digital age is an important concept to be discussed is axiomatic. Cameras in mobile phones make it easy to record events and post them on the web. Consumers post an enormous amount of information on social media sites. And much of this information is made publicly available. A common question, then, […]

Read the full article →