While social networking sites were dismissed as a passing triviality for a long time, their importance can no longer be denied. The market leader Facebook is deeply embedded in social relations of all kinds – from neighborhood chats to business meetings and political campaigns. The consequences of this new kind of sociality are still unclear. What makes a billion people enrich their profiles with detailed private information? What kind of power does a company hold that can permanently lurk into the everyday lives of these people? Are we witnessing the emergence of a new medium that will deeply transform ways of communication, or is this a hype that will be gone in a couple of years?
In order to answer these questions, we have assembled a collection of texts with an especially strong commitment to methodological and theoretical innovation and rigor. The German paper version was published in October 2011. It sold over 1800 copies until now and received critical acclaim from leading newspapers. Its authors develop a critical and comprehensive perspective not by arguing from a distance, but by an engaged and involved close examination of technological, economic and social processes. The book has also sparked a lot of interest internationally – reason enough for us to start working on an English version.
Why we need your help
Facebook’s success poses a lot of controversial questions – economically, socially, politically – which are far from answered yet. This book provides insights into these questions at an as yet unprecedented level of theoretical depth. Which is why it deserves to become available to an international audience.
The book has also proven to be an invaluable resource for a critical theoretical grounding of discussions about Facebook. Given the enormous user base of Facebook, it is vital to spread this kind of knowledge as widely as possible. Putting the texts under an Open Access license and making them freely accessible for everyone is the best way to achieve this goal.
How you can support us
You can help us by donating any amount of money. Our first priority is to secure funding for an Open Access production. This means the production of a pdf for open access, which then will be used for printing, too. Our second priority is to secure funding for translating the contributions that were originally written in German. The more money we raise, the more translations can be financed. In the end you will have the choice to download the english version of the book for free or buy a printed copy.
Why this project should be funded by the crowd
We are very curious if and how crowdfunding works for critical research publications. Open access via crowdfunding might develop into an interesting alternative to the dominant commercial publishing system that guards access to knowledge via artificial scarcity and forces large parts of library budgets to be spent for very few commercial players.
What the book is about
Oliver Leistert and Theo Röhle provide an introductory note to the book and sum up some of the technical and social developments that accompanied the success of Facebook.
Mark Andrejevic explores the data-driven market logic that has given rise to Facebook’s rapidly growing value.
Mark Coté and Jennifer Pybus draw upon both Judith Butler and Michel Foucault to critically unpack Facebook’s role as a ‘digital archive of the self’ and to discuss the growing importance of communicative, affective and cognitive labour.
Frank is a software developer from Hamburg who provides a hands-on report on how ‘user content’ is turned into commodities.
Robert Bodle casts a political economy perspective on the regimes of sharing that result from Facebook’s strategic use of Open Application Programming Interfaces.
Carolin Gerlitz and Anne Helmond identify the ‘Like Economy’ as a new kind of exchange paradigm following in the wake of the hit and link economy.
Dirk Baecker argues that Facebook is sociology for everyone. In allowing us to trace the development of our social web, it shows that it is only our similarity that makes us different.
Ralf Adelmann explores the interconnections between media technology and notions of friendship, arguing that neither the mediated politics of social relations nor the alleged loss of ‘authentic’ friendships are new phenomena.
Gerald Raunig argues that Facebook feeds on a desire of self-fragmentation and traces this need from the Sermon of the Mount, via Nietzsche all the way to current post-privacy debates.
Carolin Wiedemann interprets Facebook as an assessment-center for the daily conduct of life, drawing on Foucault’s theory of governmentality.
Geert Lovink discusses the role of anonymity on Facebook, how it relates to earlier ideas of the web as a space of experimentation and if all this culminates into a crisis of the multiple self.
Susanne Lummerding explores how Facebook not only acts as a book keeper of our daily lives, but how we are increasingly booked (as in taken into custody) by a regime of formalization forcing us into categories of male or female, straight or queer, etc.
Anne Roth describes what it’s like when the surveillance apparatus of a state turns against you and exposing your intimate life to strangers is not a choice any more, but an order.
Marianne Pieper, Brigitta Kuster, and Vassilis Tsianos deliver the theoretical outlines of what a net(h)nografic analysis of border regimes could look like and provide an empirical example of how to map these kind of political processes that are usually hidden from view.
Saskia Sassen explores what she calls the ‘minimalist Facebook’: not the internal world of Facebook with its vast numbers of subscribers, but the larger ecology within which a Facebook action is situated.
Ganaele Langlois, Fenwick McKelvey, and Greg Elmer discuss how Facebook mediates political processes in different campaigns in Canada and the power it plays in a networked public.
Kate Coyer and Rian Wanstreet take a look at Facebook’s Terms of Services Politics and investigate the consequences of the often ignored and fast changing conditions of its use.
Korinna Patelis approaches Facebook as a cultural text, and situates her analysis within the wider political economy of the Internet. Facebook is understood as a script that casts individual users as heroes of an ever expanding seemingly collectively produced representation of everyday life.
Who we are
Oliver Leistert’s research focuses (both theoretically and empirically) on the use of mobile media in protests and social movements. At the same time he explicitly analyses surveillance that goes hand in hand with this practice. He is a Research Fellow at the Center for Media and Communication Studies at the Central European University in Budapest.
Theo Röhle is a post-doc at the Research Training Group ‘Automatisms’ at the University of Paderborn. Germany. His research focuses on digital knowledge and epistemology (search engines, Digital Humanities), new forms of surveillance, and concepts of power in media studies and science and technology studies. He received his PhD in media culture from the University of Hamburg in 2010, before that he studied History of Ideas, Cultural Studies and Media and Communication Studies at Stockholm University.