I’m Writing a Book On the Disinfotopia of Current Social Media

I’ve decided to write a book before the year is out. I’ve decided this because I think the most pressing current issue for Open Pedagogy practitioners in the U.S. right now is how we address a social media environment that seems to be bringing out many of our worst demons, and I think several years of research on this issue has given me some insights here. In fact, I would go so far to say that the events of the past year have only served to validate the presentations I have given on The Stream and its problems over the last couple years. Add to that that I have over 532 pages of notes and pull quotes on the subject, burning a hole in my pocket.

I simply can’t imagine a more important task for us as instructional designers, teachers, and technologists than to deal with this issue, and I think the best way to deal with the subject is to do a deep dive.

I plan to start tonight, right after I cook the kids dinner. I hope to finish it over holiday break. I hope that if I post this intention here and people respond well to the idea it will get me to pump out pages rather than endlessly edit or delay. (My curse is I *love* research, and so the research phase never ends).

Here’s a description:

Lost in the Stream will be the first book to tell the story of how social media destroyed American political culture as seen through the 2016 primary and election.

It lays blame for that destruction on the omnipresence of the “Stream” in our lives:  the never-ending pull-to-refresh parade of news and outrage we have come to take for granted in our social media environments. It argues that the Stream, as exemplified by the personal feeds of Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, is creating a post-truth society, and that the 2016 election — the first “Twitter election” — is a harbinger of worse things to come if we do not address major flaws in the structure of our current social media environments.

There are a number of books that have tackled similar issues, pointing to insidious effects of the commercialization of the web, erosion of face-to-face culture, or the impact of the web on memory and concentration. This book acknowledges these impacts, but looks very specifically at how the “event-ification” of the web contributes to our current malaise. It presents the world of the web as it has become for many in the U.S. — polarizing, conspiracy-obsessed, brutally and unapologetically mob-like — and shows how The Stream is at the root of these problems. It suggests that older, pre-stream models of the web, from pioneers such as Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, and Alan Kay, might hold the key to returning the web to its place as an augment of human intellect rather than a detriment to it.

Chapter List

Prologue: From Techno-utopianism to the Current Dystopia

Section One / Welcome to Disinfotopia

Chapter One: Islands in the Stream (That Is What We Are)
Chapter Two: The Facebook Conspiracy Factory
Chapter Three: Twitter’s Mob Justice
Chapter Four: Who Moved My Cognitive Surplus?
Chapter Five: Weaponized Transparency and the End of Organization(s)

Section Two / Old Models and New Hope

Chapter Six: As We May Think Again
Chapter Seven: Talking with Models
Chapter Eight: Reclaiming Calm
Chapter Nine: Can Education Save the Web?

Conclusion: The Web We Need

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10 thoughts on “I’m Writing a Book On the Disinfotopia of Current Social Media

  1. Mike, I really appreciate the US specific approach to this proposal and would stand in line to buy this book because you’re right: it’s relevant to us too. If you need a reader along the way, there will be a line around the block for that, and I’m in it. Whatever will help.

  2. Love it. I assume it will have an open access version 😉

    I love the titles of chapters. That alone should inspire you to write it 🙂

    Wondering, though, how you want to “garden” it so it’s not just the views of one person? Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂 I love your views and it’s very “you” in topic and approach. And Jared Diamond told the history of the world all on his own 🙂

    Looking forward to this

  3. Sounds like you have already written it! Very much looking forward to this, and live the fact you are announcing it because It gives me permission to heckle you if it is not done. “What happened to that book idea, Mike, was it lost in the stream?” Cha cha cha.

  4. Ooh, I’m giving a talk next year on the back of my Open ed & the Unenlightenment post (you commented on that, thanks, if you haven’t been back it might be worth looking at some of the other comments for your book too) – this book will hopefully be there in time for me to sound intelligent.

  5. Sincerely hoping you get this done and all the way to the last two chapters. Looking forward to reading these in particular (the earlier ones may infuriate 🙂 ).

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