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Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology, and the Experience of Social Space

Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology, and the Experience of Social Space

by Chris Berry, Soyoung Kim, and Lynn Spigel, Editors
University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, 2010
312 pp., illus. 22 b/w. Trade: $75; paper, $25
ISBN: 978-0-8166-4736-1; ISBN: 978-0-8166-4737-8.

Reviewed by Martha Patricia Nino
Miami, Florida, United States


The main chapters are the Reconfigured Home, Electronic Publics, The Voice of Jacob: Radio's Role in Reviving a Nation and the Mediated City. The book is a collection of essays that explains a myriad of topics in regards to the problems of spaces conjured up and experienced through media.  The text also explains how this process both constructs and transforms what we understand by home, community, work, nation, and citizenship. It comments on the work of authors such as Beatriz Colomina, who traces the influence of military technologies on visionary architects. It also analyzes the work of a wide range of authors such as Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Raymond Williams, and Jean Baudrillard in order to consider how the emergence of television, commercial malls, and freeways create instances of simulated modes of public life. The book also highlights the problems caused by the  migration of people living as a hybrid diaspora and causing what Chris Berry calls “glocalizations”. Thus, geography and history result important factors for the comprehension of current dislocations and deterritorializations.  In this context it is convenient to review the apparent disappearance of distance. Satellite television tends to blur the line between the collective and the domestic. The imaginary construction of a global city is also discussed. Another question exposed in the text is what do we understand by public space taking as an example new documentary in China and satellite television in Algeria.  The relation among advertising, the public role of religion, and violence in India is also explored.

In a more private realm, the home is analyzed.  The house becomes both a cybernetic metaphor and a construction that can be inhabited in Cyberspace. In addition, Cyberspace becomes itself a virtual geography. For David Morley, it becomes a phantasmagoric place as electronic media allows the realm of the far permeate into the realm of the near. Another concern of the book is the design of smart houses in which electronic devices such as the washing machines, microwaves, refrigerators and televisions that communicate among themselves using special protocols.  The radical statement discussed along the book is that places are not represented but created through media. This is the way electronic elsewheres are created. The authors that contributed to the book include Asu Aksoy, Charlotte Brunsdon, Ratiba Hadj-Moussa, Tamar Liebes-Plesner, David Morley, Lisa Nakamura, Arvind Rajagopal, Kevin Robins, Jeffrey Sconce, Marita Strurken, and Shunya Yoshimi. It would have been interesting to have a reference to the phenomena of the creation of other shared virtual spaces, such as maps or the virtual and mental ideas that we generate from a physical place . The book is interesting for the persons interested in public television and electronic media in general.

Last Updated 5 September, 2010

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