It took me a couple of tube journeys to read Peter Lunenfeld's The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the computer as a culture machine. If I were being unkind, I'd say this speed of reading was due to the absence of much analysis to chew on and to the rather breathless writing style. Professor Lunenfeld teaches in the Design Media Arts Department at UCLA and although he writes infinitely better than most academic sociologists/critical studies folks, he doesn't entirely avoid their stylistic tics.
However, I'm being kind. The book is a short provocation arguing that unlike previous media technologies, the computer/internet technologies enable us to cease being passive consumers and become instead active, mindful producers of creative content. As well as 'downloading' (sitting on the couch with the remote) was can 'upload' (film videos, write blogs….). Instead of all our entertainment being professionally generated, we could enter a mode of 'unfinish' in the media, and complete the job of creation for ourselves.
There are also some good stories and telling points. Indeed, Prof Lunenfeld devotes a whole chapter to a theme that's been preoccupying me (a big theme in The Economics of Enough), the absence of any faith in the future. Whatever one thinks about modernism and the many negative as well as positive turns history took in the 20th century, there was a surfeit of possible futures.
“In the 20th century, though, we seem to suffer from a vision deficit, an inability to imagine a future or futures that we would actually like to live in. What is needed is something to quicken the heart about the future, something to invest us with hope, excitement, vision and will. In other words, where are out jetpacks?”