In 2021, we published An Illustrated Field Guide to Social Media with the Knight First Amendment Institute.
It was the culmination of a months-long exploration of alternative social media “logics” meant to encourage fresh thinking about the possibilities for social media. In the two years since, we’ve been heartened to see the book used in a number of different classes and articles about the digital public sphere. People consistently reference it as one of their favorite projects to come out of our lab.
We’re excited to announce that we will be publishing a revised and expanded version of the book, titled A Field Guide to Social Media, with MIT Press.
This gives us a chance to make a number of improvements to a project that grew unexpectedly from an ad-hoc series of essays into an ebook. In particular, we plan to add several “logics”—important patterns of social media—and to formalize the theory and structure underlying the book. Further, we will benefit from MIT Press’ editorial direction and be able to share the book more intentionally with a wider audience. We have committed to finishing our draft by Summer 2024 and hope to publish the final work soon afterwards.
We will be sharing drafts of the new and revised essays on the iDPI website with the hope that folks will provide feedback that we can integrate into the final manuscript. In the future, that means feedback on what we’re writing in specific chapters.
Today, we’d like to know what you think we should add to (or subtract from) the table of contents below. We hope you’ll participate in making this book, and further, we want to be sure what we produce will be accessible to everyone. So, in addition to the essays on this site, there will be an open-access version of the final, published book available through MIT.
A draft of the book’s first essay will be live on this site within the next couple weeks and we can’t wait for your feedback on the project over the next year.
Though the digital public sphere is constantly changing, our hope is to capture insights that are still relevant in 50 years. Those insights are influenced by our sense that the common understanding of social media is often shallow and narrow.
Even if there’s a holographic metaverse, we’re confident that in the future people will still gather in forums, popularity will still be a fundamental force across social media, countries will still jostle to shape global content flows, and communities will still be trying to harness this powerful technology for good.
Table of Contents
What is a Logic?
Frameworks for Understanding Social Media
- Social Networking
- TV 2.0
- The 80/20 Rule of Small Social Networks
- Business Models
- Content Geopolitics
Social Media Futures