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The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context
Book by Mark Poster. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Mark Poster is professor of history and director of the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine.

This book is an excellent introduction to information theory written in a style that connects theory with very real phenomena in the lives of real people, including television viewing. Here you will find an analysis, for example, of why television commercials work so well. TV ads basically represent a "miraculous" intervention in the consciousness of the viewer. Far from rejecting the miraculous in today's secular culture, TV ads demonstrate people's intense need for that which associates themselves with other than the ordinary and mundane.

The book is organized within five chapters, each of which relates the thought of a contemporary philosopher to an issue in telecommunications. After reading the book the reader will have a good sense of the meanings surrounding the term "postmodernism", since each of these philosophers is associated in different ways with this term.
  1. The Concept of Postindustrial Society - Bell and the Problem of Rhetoric
  2. Budrillard and TV Ads - The Language of the Economy
  3. Foucault and Databases - Participatory Surveillance
  4. Derrida and Electronic Writing - The Subject of the Computer
  5. Lyotard and Computer Science - The Possibilities of Postmodern Politics.
The chapter on electronic writing is especially fascinating for people who have begun to use computers for word processing and email. These activities are similar to writing by hand, or talking on the phone, and yet very different as well. The difference between verbal talking and writing is discussed.

Mark Poster was interviewed in 1994 by Erick Heroux

Date review was first written: 2/15/96




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Date Added: 6/7/2002 Date Revised: 6/7/2002

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