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Updating to Remain the Same


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Just when we thought there was nothing new to say about the internet, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun arrives with a fresh new take on the paradoxical twinnings that define network operations and cultures. In lively accessible prose, she deftly shows that the seeming antinomies, habit and crisis, in fact mutually define each other, merging to create 'update,' the event defining the present that is always already the historical future in network society. Highly recommended for anyone interested in contemporary media theory, network culture, and contemporary cultural theory. -- N. Katherine Hayles, James B. Duke Professor of Literature, Duke University There is something pervasive and destructive about the fantasy that we, one by one, are the absolute center of a new digital world, that this world is customized for us like a perfect coat, tying us into 'networks.' Wendy Chun's remarkable Updating to Remain the Same takes on this saccharine fake-personalized 'YOU' and the superficially linked networks. Instead, she digs deep into the meaning of our digital habits, showing how the productive, generative everydayness of the habitual gets corroded in so much of new media into a pervasive sense of addictive updating to cope with threats -- condensed in her formula habit + crisis = update. Critical of the slothful, casual way that friendship, networks, even the YOU-self functions, Chun pushes us to think about new ways of establishing online collectivities, novel forms of memory and archive, hoping we can learn new forms of inhabiting the new media: loitering in public, safely. This is a terrific book, sharply critical, cautiously hopeful. -- Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University In Updating to Remain the Same Wendy Chun offers a provocative analysis of how the internet, once praised as an anonymous, utopian space of the mind, has by the late 2010s become a space of total surveillance and privatized social media. The key to this transformation is that we have become both habituated to and inhabitants of new media. The update, Chun argues, is central to creating new habits of dependency at the heart of neoliberal capitalism. -- Tim Lenoir, Distinguished Professor of Science & Technology Studies, Cinema and Digital Media, University of California, Davis

About the Author

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, who has studied both systems design and English literature, is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She is the author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics and Programmed Visions: Software and Memory, both published by the MIT Press.

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