Book Talk | Hyperconnectivity and Its Discontents
Join the Institute for Public Knowledge for a book talk on Hyperconnectivity and Its Discontents, featuring the author Rogers Brubaker in conversation with Natasha Schüll and Angela Wu.
Digital hyperconnectivity – a condition, to exaggerate only slightly, in which everyone and everything is connected to everyone and everything else, everywhere and all the time – is a defining fact of our time. Hyperconnectivity has colonized the self, reorganizing our attention and reshaping our ways of thinking, seeing, and feeling. It has recast social interactions, stretching them over space and time, gamifying them, and channeling them into platform-friendly, surveillance-enhancing forms and formats. It has converted the whole of human culture into an unending stream of digital content, served to us by personalized algorithms. It has revolutionized economic life by enabling frictionless transactions and facilitating the extraction and analysis of data on an unprecedented scale. It has fragmented the public sphere, polarizing – and in some ways paralyzing – the citizenry, and strengthening populist challenges to mediating institutions.
Hyperconnectivity and Its Discontents develops an interpretive account of these pervasive and unsettling changes. The book casts a broad net, addressing transformations of selves, social interactions, culture, economics, and politics. Rather than seek to chronicle the latest developments – a futile endeavor in the face of ceaseless turbulence and change – the book seeks to illuminate the everyday experience of hyperconnectivity in each of these domains through the structural analysis of its underlying dynamics.
Rogers Brubaker is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he holds the UCLA Foundation Chair. He has written widely on social theory, immigration, citizenship, nationalism, ethnicity, religion, and populism. His recent books include Grounds for Difference (Harvard, 2015) and Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities (Princeton, 2016).
Natasha Schüll s a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her work explores the psychic life of technology with a focus on themes of addiction, anxiety, and affect modulation. Her 2012 book, ADDICTION BY DESIGN: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press 2012), parses the intimate relationship between the experience of gambling addiction and casino industry design tactics, showing how architectural, atmospheric, ergonomic, audiovisual, and algorithmic-computational techniques are marshaled to suspend — and monetize — gamblers’ attention. Her current book project, KEEPING TRACK (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, under contract), explores the rise of sensor-based, digital technologies of the self and the new modes of self-care and self-regulation they offer. Her documentary film, BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, has screened multiple times on PBS and appeared in numerous film festivals.
Angela Wu combines humanities and social science methods, from oral and archival histories to quantitative analyses of web traffic and social media traces, to work at the intersection of media and communication study and science and technology studies (STS), with a focus on the dynamic interactions of politics and infrastructures of knowledge production. Her research intervenes in fields such as critical data studies, platform studies, audience analysis, the political economy of media and media governance, and post/socialism studies. Wu holds a PhD in Media, Technology and Society from Northwestern University. She received her Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and her B.A. in Journalism and Communication with a Minor in Applied Computer Science from Tsinghua University.