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Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture

Author: Lisa Gitelman
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006
Review Published: April 2008

 REVIEW 1: J. Patrick Biddix
 REVIEW 2: David Heineman
 REVIEW 3: Michelle Rodino-Colocino

Any author would be grateful for one of these insightful and exacting reviews, but to garner three is truly an embarrassment of riches, like watching your pony somehow stumble to the Triple Crown. So, huge thanks to RCCS as well as to Professors Biddix, Heineman, and Rodino-Colocino for their care and generosity in describing my book. I am particularly pleased to have readers for whom whiplash wasn't a problem, as Always Already New careens from a few close-in particularities to its bird's-eye argument about the newness of new media and the stuff of cultural memory.

Indeed, here's hoping that particular stuff can get a lot more play in cyberculture studies, as the field continues to develop its own self-consciously archival questions and practices. Many of us have become adept at parsing "free speech" from "free beer" in the thought that information wants to be "free," but that endeavor should never occlude one of the most important lessons of media studies since the 1960s or of bibliography long before that: information can never be free of the material conditions of its expression and circulation. We need better accounts of the material conditions of cybercultural texts and transmissions, and happily there's terrific work being done. To give you some idea, here is the stuff I plan to read in the coming month: Matt Kirschenbaum's Mechanisms (MIT Press, 2007), Alex Galloway and Eugene Thacker's The Exploit (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), Chris Kelty's Two Bits (Duke University Press, 2008), and - in the old new media department - Mary Poovey's Genres of the Credit Economy (University of Chicago Press, 2008).

Lisa Gitelman


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