The Digital Environment: How We Live, Learn, Work, and Play Now
Understanding digital technology in daily life: why we should think holistically in terms of a digital environment instead of discrete devices and apps.
Increasingly we live through our personal screens; we work, play, socialize, and learn digitally. The shift to remote everything during the pandemic was another step in a decades-long march toward the digitization of everyday life made possible by innovations in media, information, and communication technology. In The Digital Environment, Pablo Boczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein offer a new way to understand the role of the digital in our daily lives, calling on us to turn our attention from our discrete devices and apps to the array of artifacts and practices that make up the digital environment that envelops every aspect of our social experience.
Boczkowski and Mitchelstein explore a series of issues raised by the digital takeover of everyday life, drawing on interviews with a variety of experts. They show how existing inequities of gender, race, ethnicity, education, and class are baked into the design and deployment of technology, and describe emancipatory practices that counter this—including the use of Twitter as a platform for activism through such hashtags as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. They discuss the digitization of parenting, schooling, and dating—noting, among other things, that today we can both begin and end relationships online. They describe how digital media shape our consumption of sports, entertainment, and news, and consider the dynamics of political campaigns, disinformation, and social activism. Finally, they report on developments in three areas that will be key to our digital future: data science, virtual reality, and space exploration.
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