|OLOR Series:||ROLE Reviews|
|Original Publication Date:||15 March 2020|
This review was originally published in Research in Online Literacy, vol. 3, no. 1 (2020).
Digitalization and Society is an edited collection that covers a broad range of topics involving digital technologies and their effects on society. Every chapter is contributed by academics from Turkish institutions of higher education. The stated purpose of the book, found in the Preface, is to constitute part of a “project on digitalization and globalization phenomena with a focus on changes in social institutions and their meanings” ( p. 5). The collection seems to promise an exciting look at how digital technologies are transforming the world. Although the book does offer helpful overviews on many technological topics, it falls short of delivering on its broader promise.
The book takes on a wide swath of questions involving technology and society, and this courageous scope is admirable. Chapters cover topics ranging from “Digitalization and Religion” to “Historical Development of Games and Digital Games as a Product of the Culture Industry,” with stops in politics, economics, and law in between. The strongest chapters move from introductory material and literature review into specific aspects of how a particular issue is playing out globally or in Turkey. For example, in the chapter titled “Digitalization and the Law,” contributor Abdurrahman Savaş points to differences in cybercrime laws between Turkey and other countries, such as the fact that “regulations in Turkish law do not consider unauthorized access to an information system as a crime by itself, as they also require the user to stay there for a while” (p. 160). Similarly, the chapters involving digital health and digital games provide helpful insights into how technology is changing those aspects of society in specific instances.
However, most of the chapters leave the reader just short of that last satisfying step. Instead the general pattern of the book is to provide a thorough literature review but no clear arguments as to how particular technological forces are shaping particular cultural contexts. If the book is taken as a collection of secondary research on a broad ranges of topics, then it will serve fairly well. But even taking that purpose as a starting point, it’s not clear who the audience of such an overview would be, since more clearly focused work already exists on most of these topics.
Ultimately, the book may serve well as an accessible overview on a wide range of topics. However, most scholars will prefer to read these sources first-hand, and graduate students or upper-level undergrads will either want to do the same or will benefit from more clearly argued research on these same topics.
Joshua Welsh is an associate professor in the English Department at Central Washington University. His research involves rhetoric and technology, with special interests in online technical writing pedagogy, intellectual property, open-source software, and mobile computing. He holds an MS (2009) and a PhD (2013) from the University of Minnesota.