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Professor's book explores time in network society

August 10, 2007

Cover image of book 24|7How the Internet has changed our concept of time is the subject of a new book co-edited by SF State Professor of Management Ronald Purser, and Robert Hassan, a research fellow in the Media and Communications Program at the University of Melbourne.

"24/7 Time and Temporality in the Network Society" (Stanford University Press, 2007) is a collection of essays by an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars who consider the implications and effects as society moves from the industrial age, clock-driven notion of time to the 21st century online domination of time.

Approached by Hassan in 1999, Purser welcomed the project as an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of time itself -- from a cultural, sociological and psychological perspective. It seemed to him that people today often lack the time to do what they want to do. He began to wonder if modern time and labor-saving devices were a myth.

"We can now be available anywhere networks allow us to be," Purser said. "For the first time in the history of civilization, people are being brought into an orbit of the 24/7 life. So, what does this mean with regard to the temporal boundaries of our professional and personal lives?"

Purser traces the shift in concept to burgeoning globalization and IT technologies. "Put those two forces together and we are colonizing our private spaces, spaces that have not usually been exposed to markets," Purser said. "Is the expectation of the networked society that we are always available to work and to consume?"

The book is divided into three sections: time in the network society; digital time as temporal dimensions of media and culture; and temporal presence and time in the network economy. Among the chapters is an essay on network time by Hassan. The volume also includes Australian media and communications professor Darren Tofts' thoughts on time as it relates to the film "The Matrix" as well as time-image cinema in general. Sociologist Carmen Leccardi explores "High-Speed Society" and lawyer and scholar Jack Petranker weighs in on the network experience as "an antidote to the subjectivity of time."

In the foreward, renowned social theorist Barbara Adam notes that many who embrace the new media may not realize the scope of the changes to civilization that are under way. "Revolutionary social changes have a habit of sneaking up on us," she said. "They are easy to detect from a temporal distance but much harder to identify while they are happening, and we are inescapably implicated in the processes of change and their effects."

For more information on the book, visit the Stanford University Press Online.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified August 16, 2007 by University Communications