Dark Fiber

From Electronic Culture: History, Theory, and Practice

Dark Fiber

Tracking Critical Internet Culture

By Geert Lovink

Net criticism that establishes the principles and foundation for a collaborative, global new media culture.





Net criticism that establishes the principles and foundation for a collaborative, global new media culture.

According to media critic Geert Lovink, the Internet is being closed off by corporations and governments intent on creating a business and information environment free of dissent. Calling himself a radical media pragmatist, Lovink envisions an Internet culture that goes beyond the engineering culture that spawned it to bring humanities, user groups, social movements, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), artists, and cultural critics into the core of Internet development.

In Dark Fiber, Lovink combines aesthetic and ethical concerns and issues of navigation and usability without ever losing sight of the cultural and economic agendas of those who control hardware, software, content, design, and delivery. He examines the unwarranted faith of the cyber-libertarians in the ability of market forces to create a decentralized, accessible communication system. He studies the inner dynamics of hackers' groups, Internet activists, and artists, seeking to understand the social laws of online life. Finally, he calls for the injection of political and economic competence into the community of freedom-loving cyber-citizens, to wrest the Internet from corporate and state control.

The topics include the erosion of email, bandwidth for all, the rise and fall of dot-com mania, techno-mysticism, sustainable social networks, the fight for a public Internet time standard, the strategies of Internet activists, mailing list culture, and collaborative text filtering. Stressing the importance of intercultural collaboration, Lovink includes reports from Albania, where NGOs and artists use new media to combat the country's poverty and isolation; from Taiwan, where the September 1999 earthquake highlighted the cultural politics of the Internet; and from Delhi, where a new media center explores free software, public access, and Hindi interfaces.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262122498 394 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


$20.00 X ISBN: 9780262621809 394 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


  • ... a truly brilliant book by a truly brilliant guy.


  • [L]ovink offers a technologically savvy, theoretically tight, and—perhaps surprisingly—easily readable collection of 'net criticism.'

    Capital Magazine

  • Lovink unravels the euphoric claims for broadband and P2P as capably as he skewered push technology five years ago.


  • ... A unique contribution to the field...not to be missed.

    Journal of Communication

  • ... Geert Lovink warns that government and corporations are shutting down the culture of dissent that is the Net's true value.



  • Lovink is our major thinker about the intersections of tactical media, net criticism, and the social design of technology. Dark Fiber is a sterling work of radical pragmitism, the essays within pointing to a better and yes, possible, future for netowork societies.

    Peter Lunenfeld

    Media Design Program, Art Center College of Design, Author of Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media and Cultures

  • For over a decade now, Lovink has been one of the most prominent figures in cyberculture and new media worldwide. A new-media theorist, an Internet critic, an activist, an inventor of new innovative forms of net-based discourse, an organizer of ground-breaking events—remarkably, he excels at all these different roles. I think of Lovink as a network of distributed sensors: everywhere at once, he is always the first to notice new changing directions of net culture, the first to name them, and the first to offer sober and illuminating analysis. Now we are fortunate to have his brilliant dispatches from the net front collected in one book. This is a new kind of book from a new type of public intellectual. Think of it as theory on-the-go—or as a set of help files to keep handy as you navigate the present, on- and off-line.

    Lev Manovich

    Department of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego, author of The Language of New Media

  • Remember the future? Geert Lovink comes not to praise, but to bury, the 'techno mysticism and digital Darwinism' that fogged our vision in the 1990s. The preeminent practitioner of Net criticism (a discourse he co-founded), Lovink combines a no-bullshit street wisdom acquired in his days as a squatter with a bear-trap intellect honed on postmodern theory and endless late-night debates. Geert Lovink is the Linus Torvald of open-source theory—a free-agent thinker cracking the cultural code that cages our minds. Where he leads, I follow.

    Mark Dery

    author of The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink

  • A brilliant archeology of the world of new media by one of its longtime activists and theorists. Lovink's knowledge of technology, extensive participation in multiple grassroots initiatives, and critical politics give him a perspective on the subject that is unlike that of any other author I know.

    Saskia Sassen

    University of Chicago, author of Globalization and Its Discontents