A MITH Digital Dialogue
Tuesday, September 14th, 12:30-1:45
MITH Conference Room, McKeldin Library B0135

“The iPad: The ‘Jesus Tablet’ and the Resurrection of Consumer Society” by ZEYNEP TUFEKCI and NATHAN JURGENSON

Apple’s much-discussed iPad fits more within the logic of consumer society rather than the participatory Web 2.0 with its focus on active participation, diminishing corporate control, and a trend towards free products and services (what has come to be known as “prosumer society”). In contrast to Web 2.0, where users as “prosumers” actively participate in the production of that which they consume and often create systems from the bottom-up, the iPad channels passive consumption, corporate control via “closed” systems and a renewed focus on traditional, top-down, pay-per-view media. Indeed, the iPad is engineered to enforce this passivity, for example through lack of a tactile keyboard. The iPad is indicative of Apple’s Disneyfied approach in the way it produces spectacle to enchant or “wow” individuals into passive consumption, attempts to exercise control by creating a “walled garden,” and seeks to monetize more and more of the interactions within the system.

ZEYNEP TUFEKCI is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where her main research interests are the social impacts of technology, theorizing the web, gender, research methods, inequality and new media. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Science.

NATHAN JURGENSON is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of Maryland where he is working with George Ritzer on the theoretical implications of the bottom-up turn taken by the Internet—what has come to be known as Web 2.0. His future work will involve rethinking how sociological theory (especially postmodern thought) orients our understanding of Web 2.0, and, in turn, how Web 2.0 provides fertile ground to rethink sociological theory in areas such as knowledge production, the presentation of self, consumption, authority, exploitation, and many others.

Coming up @ MITH September 21st: MITH will host an OpenStreetMap mapping party

View MITH’s complete Fall Speakers Schedule here:


All talks free and open to the public!

Contact: Neil Fraistat, Director, MITH (http://mith.umd.edu, mith@umd.edu, 5-8927).