Cultural Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Alumnus Robert W. Gehl to Publish First Book

Alumnus Robert W. Gehl's Book Reverse Engineering Social Media out in July

Robert W. Gehl's first book, Reverse Engineering Social Media (Temple, 2014), mixes together software studies, cultural studies, and Marxian political economy to critique contemporary social media sites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Digg. Gehl reverse engineers social media by tracing their genealogies and decomposing their architectures, revealing internal details such as standardized protocols used in surveillance and marketing, the advent of "socialbots" (programs that appear human within the structures of social media), and how techniques from the management of software production are transposed to manage the "free labor" of users. However, rather than stop at critique, the final chapter considers all of the contradictions of social media and offers a "design speculation" for socialized media, as well as a survey of actually existing social media alternatives.

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