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New book: Virtualpolitik

January 1, 2010

An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes

Elizabeth Losh

May 2009, MIT
7 x 9, 416 pp., 71 illus.
$29.95/£19.95 (CLOTH)

Today government agencies not only have official Web sites but also sponsor moderated chats, blogs, digital video clips, online tutorials, videogames, and virtual tours of national landmarks. Sophisticated online marketing campaigns target citizens with messages from the government—even as officials make news with digital gaffes involving embarrassing e-mails, instant messages, and videos. In Virtualpolitik, Elizabeth Losh closely examines the government’s digital rhetoric in such cases and its dual role as media-maker and regulator. Looking beyond the usual focus on interfaces, operations, and procedures, Losh analyzes the ideologies revealed in government’s digital discourse, its anxieties about new online practices, and what happens when officially sanctioned material is parodied, remixed, or recontextualized by users.

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