Exploitation, Alienation, and Liberation

Interpreting the Political Economy of Digital Writing

Authored by: Kylie Jarrett

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138671362
eBook ISBN: 9781315518497
Adobe ISBN:


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The diffusion of the capacity to write and distribute creative content that followed the emergence of digital technologies has often been described as liberatory. Interactive, networked technologies promised to return cultural production to the “authentic” state before massification and domination by commercial imperatives, allowing a richer, more dynamic cultural fabric to be woven. Early Internet theorists, such as Howard Rheingold, Sherry Turkle, and George Landow, noted the potential for the renewal of the public sphere, for self-making, and for challenging orthodoxies of textual expression that lay in citizens, individuals, and groups accessing new tools for public creative expression. These possibilities were not only an outcome of interactive media providing spaces for the expression of alternative views, but were also an effect of the technical affordances of digitized, hyperlinked, and networked media that created new forms of textuality and meaning-making. Emerging from the deep shadow cast by commercial media behemoths and tight state regulation throughout the twentieth century, the libertarian hacker spaces of the early Internet had the potential to overturn decades of alienation from the ability to author our own cultural landscape and, by doing so, allow us to achieve full human flourishing.

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