This book explores the weird and mean and in-between that characterize everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to deceptive identity play. Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner focus especially on the ambivalence of this expression: the fact that it is too unwieldy, too variable across cases, to be essentialized as old or new, vThis book explores the weird and mean and in-between that characterize everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to deceptive identity play. Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner focus especially on the ambivalence of this expression: the fact that it is too unwieldy, too variable across cases, to be essentialized as old or new, vernacular or institutional, generative or destructive. Online expression is, instead, all of the above. This ambivalence, the authors argue, hinges on available digital tools. That said, there is nothing unexpected or surprising about even the strangest online behavior. Ours is a brave new world, and there is nothing new under the sun - a point necessary to understanding not just that online spaces are rife with oddity, mischief, and antagonism, but why these behaviors matter.The Ambivalent Internet is essential reading for students and scholars of digital media and related fields across the humanities, as well as anyone interested in mediated culture and expression....
|Title||:||The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online|
|Number of Pages||:||240 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online Reviews
Phillips and Milner are quick to point out, in the introduction to their book, that they speak of the internet as 'ambivalent' in the etymologically correct sense of the word:The Latinate prefix of ambivalent (ambi-)... means "both, on both sides," implying tension, and often fraught tension, between opposites – despite the fact that, in everyday usage, the word ambivalent is often used as a stand-in for "I don't have an opinion either way"... It should be emphasized that our usage of the term reflects the "both, on both sides" use, not the blasé sense of indifference.Coming after a series of examples that spans satirical reviews on Amazon, the frequent hijacking of celebrities' and brands' Twitter hashtags, and online serial killer fandom, this approach sets the tone for the authors' approach to their subject. Their aim is to establish a framework nuanced enough to tackle the irreverence and sheer weirdness of such behaviour – and also, to some extent, to demystify it by identifying its pre-internet origins and wider context. There are chapters on folkloric expression, identity play, constitutive humour, collective storytelling and public debate. In each case a number of examples are presented and dissected. I especially loved the storytelling chapter, which draws a line from family injokes to urban legends through to creepypasta.The subject matter is naturally engaging and accessible, but The Ambivalent Internet is an academic text rather than a piece of popular non-fiction (as I originally assumed from the title and that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ cover). Everything is cited and a lot of points are repeated, which is helpful – it's one thing to just know how certain types of online communication work, and another to have this clearly laid out with examples and explanations – but can make it a bit exhausting if read in large chunks. Reading this quite soon after Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies also made it particularly jarring that Phillips and Milner say they consider the term 'alt-right' to be interchangeable with 'white nationalist'; surely this so-called 'movement' (and indeed its recognition as a movement) is one of the strongest and most prominent current examples of the of 'ambivalence' and 'identity play' the authors spend the entire book discussing. In general, the main flaw in this book as an academic text is its tendency to adhere to the norms of a particular strand of online (mainly Twitter) discourse, whereby certain opinions are treated as if they are sacred truths.The problem with ambivalence as a subject, futhermore, is that few solid conclusions can be drawn. This is typified by the conclusion to chapter 5, in which the authors begin: 'Our position is simple. We are staunch advocates of the democratic process and think that problematic speech should be countered through more speech. Except actually maybe not, because...' – and go on in this vein for several paragraphs until they end up with 'we are staunch advocates of the democratic process, as our voice trails off and we stare blankly into the distance'. It's a funny and self-aware way to wrap up discussion of a thorny topic (public debate in the internet age), but it does demonstrate how woolly and indecisive the ambivalent approach is liable to feel.As a study, a quantified and curated snapshot of the internet circa 2017, and a reference point, The Ambivalent Internet is much stronger than as a book read for pleasure or out of simple personal interest. I'd recommend it if you are studying or writing about online behaviour; maybe not so much otherwise. That being said, I'm still intrigued by the authors' other books, so there's a good chance I'll read more by one or both of them at some point.I received an advance review copy of The Ambivalent Internet from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
I'm ambivalent about this book (ha!). It's a great read, I do like the writing style which is much more personal than your standard academic fare. I feel like the authors struggled slightly with their approach & tone, I may be wrong. It's an academic book for sure, but with a popular twist. The book is most interesting exactly when the authors "step in" and intervene in the narrative.The examples are great and the argument is solid. The only reason why I remain ambivalent is because the authors are themselves, so, freaking, ambivalent... (almost to a fault). This book shows so well that complex issues have complex answers, which sometimes can be frustrating as hell.
Eh. It's competent without bringing much new to the table. The authors bounce around rather than do a deep dive in any one subject area while demonstrating that they know how to apply theory. One thing though, that I'm surprised an editor didn't catch, is that the authors repeatedly use "people of color" terminology in such a way that obfuscates antiblack racism. If we the readers are to understand the full racial implications of the Harambe memes directed at actress Leslie Jones, we must know that she is a black woman specifically, as opposed to, I don't know, Korean-American. Likewise, if we are to begin to understand why Antoine Dodson was immediately memefied, we need to look at the broader roles of black men and AAVE in the American entertainment industry.
In many ways, this book updates familiar ideas regarding public participation and the Internet that we've seen from writers like boyd and Jenkins for years. That said, it makes a somewhat novel argument regarding the dominant mode of action/interaction online (one that I'm not 100% in agreement with, but one that's worth contemplating and entertaining nonetheless). And, it's examples are up-to-date and extremely relevant to our current moment. Finally, it's fairly accessible and would probably work well in an undergraduate course.