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October 3, 2008 |

Today I got a welcome delivery from MIT Press – two books in the mail that I have had the good fortune to be part of.

The first is Networked Publics, a labor of love that was the result of a year long interdisciplinary research group that I helped organize at the Annenberg Center for Communication. Big kudos go to Kazys Varnelis who did the editing work for this volume. Every chapter is collaboratively written and is a result of a weekly faculty seminar and our engagement with a series of guest speakers. The goal of the book is to provide an accessible overview of some of the broad changes in our senses of place, public culture, politics, and infrastructure that have accompanied the shift towards a networked society. The concept of networked publics is meant to signal the lateral, peer-to-peer connections between “audiences” and “users” and the ways in which these connections are transforming our notions of public participation.

You can find a few chapters, including my introduction to the book online at the netpublics site.

The other book that arrived today is Beyond Barbie® and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming, a book that takes stock of the current state of affairs with regards to girls and gaming. It has been put together a decade after the publication ofFrom Barbie® to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, and revisits the issues raised by the earlier book. Edited by Yasmin Kafai, Carrie Heeter, Jill Denner, and Jennifer Sun, the book includes contributions by game makers as well as scholars looking at girls gaming. Written at a moment where gaming by women and girls has become well established, it chronicles a moment that is quite different from the earlier book, written at the height of the “girls games” movement that was aiming to design products specifically targeted to girls. While many of the issues of gender difference and access to technology persist to this day, the issue is not so much access to games, but access to particular kinds of gaming experiences that constitute a gender divide. The book has also expanded this conversation by soliciting contributions from scholars who work outside of the U.S., and I have a piece in their that discusses the gender dynamics of Japanese games.

It’s great to see these works in print now, both outcomes of productive interdisciplinary collaborations that are pushing forward new paradigms in thinking about digital culture.