Is cyberculture really a culture? Critical theorist Mark Poster asks what we mean by these words in What's the Matter with the Internet? Drawing on the work of Heidegger, Foucault, Baudrillard, and many more heavy hitters, he explores how we think about culture in an age when the word has been appropriated by practically everyone to the point of meaninglessness. Are ethnicity and sexuality important any more, if they even exist? Is the Net a radical tool for marginalised people or another arm of oppression? Poster, like his peers, is more interested in how and why we ask these questions than in answering them, leaving conclusions to the reader.
His metaconclusions, though, merit serious attention. As our technologies break down many, if not all, of our socially constructed barriers, how can we continue to study an increasingly incoherent subject? He calls for a more technologically literate criticism and leads the way with aplomb. His writing ranges from clear and thoughtful to dense and jargon-heavy, though most readers will be able to keep up. Poster seeks for a smarter, timelier critique in What's the Matter with the Internet? and, perhaps, finds the right path. --Rob Lightner