An anti-textbook: Re-presencing culture and communication

This post introduces the anti-textbook I wrote entitled American Currents: Re-presencing culture and communication in a postdigital age.

Communication does not scale. Dialogs are work processes with systems or controls specifying interactions with users.
Generative AI will grasp and do it for you.

How to live, do, and think is becoming automaticized and you need to know how to respond.

You need to understand:

To see through the currents of digitally-conjured appearances to find time and space to maneuver, you need to become a communications and culture expert. Communications, to be able to listen, learn, express, and revise. Culture, to be able to interpret and make meaning together. This is an old problem, dealt with in commonplace books by authors like Plato, Descartes, Kant, and Baudrillard and approaches to culture like paideia and civics.

But it is a growing problem as domain knowledge becomes fragmented and disembodied data in the service of hyper-controlled organization and the politics of technoscientific progress.

Imagine being able to work through:

As only you know the world you want to build and inhabit, the prescriptions of a textbook would not help. Also, generative AI gets to established core questions and protocols faster. This anti-textbook, on the other hand, encourages choosing your own adventure and asking your own questions, together, as you practice open-ended tasks and create something new, supported by references and personally-generated traces of hierarchizing, classifying, and sorting. If your data is being mapped into patterns, make your own maps of understanding, together, and share them.

How the anti-textbook is structured

There are eight main sections.

1. Theory
American cultural studies and why the book extends beyond that field to the current currents of the postdigital; philological-cultural approach to the code of language; language as cultural grid reference; mapping passages through this projected co-ordinate system; collaborative ‘re-presencing’ of the traces of passages and networks — to ‘re-presence’ new perspectives vis-a-vis the messes of the present.
2. Tools and approaches
Topoi, ways, structure (e.g. “progress”, wiki culture, computational thinking).
3. Applications
Applying the tools and approaches to re-presence traces of currents (e.g. decolonizing UX, dialogue).
4. Resourceful structures
Resources for structured discovery. The structure in this section is limited to thematically-titled chapters, a few proposed key quotations, questions, and note prompts. Over 50 pages long.
5. Examples of discovery
Unannotated student work from several courses as examples of applications of the ideas explored.
6. Dialogic interviews
Expansion of topics covered through the words of three domain experts (no spoilers yet).
7. Glossary
Keywords explained, such as “currents”, “re-presence”, “trace”, “automatization”, and “mess”, supplemented with references.
8. Extensive bibliography
This completes the contribution of this anti-textbook as but one trace left by a postdigital scholar who attempted to interpret the postdigital. Over 50 pages long.

New skills and approaches needed to give a response to old problems today