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The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace

Author: Vincent Mosco
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004
Review Published: December 2006

 REVIEW 1: Dale Bradley

As writers, we are generally gratified when a reader understands our work. But we are especially pleased to see a reviewer use that understanding creatively. That is why, when someone now asks me for an analysis of my book, I will send them to Dale Bradley's review. It clearly and intelligently describes the central themes of the book, captures its shifting tone, and comprehends very well why I wrote it. It appears to be written by someone with whom I have enjoyed many conversations, but, remarkably, I did not know he existed until this review appeared. Now I hope we will have those conversations in the future. Since Professor Bradley has done such a good job, a response would amount to a series of nods of agreement. Instead, I will briefly describe where my work goes from here.

As the review indicates, my academic goal in The Digital Sublime was to build a bridge from political economy to cultural studies and, in the conclusion, to return to political economy with a deeper appreciation of why culture matters. My current work returns to political economy in two projects that will result in three books. The first project returns to an earlier interest in the role of labour in a society increasingly dependent on communication and information technology. Specifically, it addresses debates about knowledge workers (who are they? how do they compare with industrial workers?), their labour (deskilling? reskilling?), and their organizations (trade unions, worker associations, social movement organizations). The central governing question of the project is: Will knowledge workers of the world unite? The first major fruit of this project is a special double issue on "The Labouring of Communication" for the Canadian Journal of Communication which I have produced with my partner in life and in research Catherine McKercher of Carleton University. In addition we are working on an edited book tentatively titled Knowledge Workers in the Information Age for which we have accepted twenty draft chapters and a co-authored book which may be called Will Knowledge Workers of the World Unite? Both will be published by Lexington Books.

The second political economy project in the works is a revised edition of my 1996 book The Political Economy of Communication which I will publish again with Sage. There have been numerous upheavals in the world and in intellectual life over the past decade and I hope to address their relevance for a new rethinking and renewal of the field. It will undoubtedly address several of the issues Bradley raises in his review, particularly on the relationship of political economy to myth and of both to everyday life. I shall be working on this revision over the next thirteen months and welcome any suggestions for the revised edition.

Following these projects which will take me through next year, I plan to return to the central themes of culture, the sublime, and myth which animated The Digital Sublime. However, I plan to shift the focus from technology to science by addressing the mythic dimensions of the sciences, particularly biology, physics, and information science. Whether the talk is of altruistic genes, strings vibrating in eleven dimensions, or the universe as computer, there is a remarkable tendency to reenchant a world that Max Weber and others described as inevitably heading for bureaucratic banality. What is the significance of this secular reenchantment? For science? For ethics? For culture?

Thanks for this opportunity to expand on my plans. And thanks to Dale Bradley for helping to advance my thought.

Vincent Mosco


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