Our daily lives, our culture, and our politics are now shaped by the digital condition, in which greater numbers of people are engaged in negotiating meaning in ever more dimensions of life, from the trivial to the profound. They are making use of a complex communication infrastructure, currently dominated by social mass media such as Twitter and Facebook, on which they have come to depend.
Amidst a confusing plurality, Felix Stalder argues that there are three key constituents of this condition: the use of existing cultural materials for one’s own production, the way in which new meaning is established as a collective endeavor, and the underlying role of algorithms and automated decision-making processes that give shape to massive volumes of data. These three characteristics define what Stalder calls “the digital condition.” He also examines the profound political implications of this new culture. We stand at a crossroads between post-democracy and the commons, a concentration of power among the few or a genuine widening of participation, with the digital condition offering the potential for starkly different outcomes.
This ambitious and wide-ranging theory of our contemporary digital condition will be of great interest to students and scholars in media, communications, and cultural studies, and to a wider readership interested in the changing character of culture and politics today.