The Host in the Machine

Examining the Digital in the Social


  • Angela Thomas-Jones, Murdoch University, Australia

This book tackles online social networks by navigating these systems from the birth to the death of their digital presence. Navigating the social within the digital can be a contentious undertaking, as social networks confuse the boundary between offline and online relationships. These systems work to bring people together in an online environment, yet participation can dislocate users from other relationships and deviant ‘online’ behaviour can create ‘offline’ issues. The author begins by examining the creation of a digital presence in online networks popularized by websites such as Facebook and MySpace. The book explores how the digital presence influences how social, cultural and professional relationships are discovered, forged, maintained and broken, and journeys through the popular criticisms of social networking such as employee time-wasting, bullying, stalking, the alleged links between social networks and suicide and the decline of a user’s public image. Social networks are often treated as morally ambiguous spaces, which highlights a dissonance between digital and social literacies. This discord is approached through an exploration of the everyday undercurrents present in social networks. The discussion of the digital presence ends by addressing the intricacies of becoming ‘digitally dead’, which explores how a user removes their identity, with finality, from social networks and the entire web.
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Researchers, teachers, tutors, and students of Internet, cultural, and media studies


Book information

  • Published: July 2010
  • Imprint: Chandos Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-84334-588-6


Full of interesting stories and examples… This book will be of interest to many readers who appreciate serious but accessible texts on popular culture and our co-existence in modern society with omnipresent technologies., Information Research

Table of Contents

Birth: Name/age/education/status update: Creating a digital presence; All a twitter: Celebrities and social networking. Life: Putting the social in social networks; (Net)Working: Online social networks and the New Economy. Death: You’ve been poked: Bullying, harassment and everyday undercurrents; Are we dead yet? Conclusion.