Last week I had the chance to present Manuel Castell’s massively influential book, Communication Power, in our Media Theory class (#uoam17). I read the second edition of the book (2013), an update on the 2009 publication that includes a fantastic new introduction entitled “Digital Networks and the Culture of the Autonomy” (I am still wondering if that “the” is a typo or not…).

Castells book is one of those works that are at the same time extremely ambitious and yet accessible, intellectually stimulating and yet not exhausting. I focused my presentation on the introduction and the first two chapters, which deal with “Power” and “Communication” separately. This allowed me to talk about the fundamentals of Castells theory, which, from what I understand, is basically that the digital age has empowered our natural inclination to organize ourselves around networks, and that what happens in our networks is essentially a constant process of communication between actors in the network(s)—”actors” being individuals, groups, or organizations. Castells calls our current society “the network society” and argues that in this type of human organization power is expressed in power of communication. The complexities of this new societal structure, the network, has created new challenges and opportunities to re-evaluate what power is and how it is subverted.

You can access my presentation here. Open the speaker notes to make sense of it: I am trying to master the art of “less is more” when it comes to Power Point presentations (because I really, really dislike them and because I am graphically-challenged, which means that I make very ugly slides. So, fewer ugly slides is better than many ugly slides. I prefer doing the talking myself).

Finally, if you are curious about Castells, Oxford Bibliographies has compiled a nice bio and summary of his work.

Thanks for stopping by!