By Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner
Forthcoming by the MIT Press
Just as the natural world is besieged by the climate crisis, our digital world is besieged by the network crisis. Polarization is at a fever pitch. Polluted information floods social media. Even our best efforts to help clean up can backfire, sending new toxins spilling across the landscape. We need to start thinking differently if we have any hope of fixing the problem.
You Are Here adopts ecological metaphors and the stories they inspire to do exactly that. By looking down at the roots, around at our network’s vast tracts of cultivated land, and up at the storms raging overhead, we can better understand how deeply connected we are to our environment and to each other. Knowing where we stand in relation to so much else allows us to make more humane, more reflective, and more ethical choices online. Most important, it shows how our individual me is entwined within a much larger we--and how the fates of both are connected. We may not be able to change our environment overnight, but we can begin planting the seeds for a digital Green New Deal.
Whitney Phillips is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University. She's the author of 2015's This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture (MIT Press), which was awarded the Association of Internet Researchers' Nancy Baym best book award. In 2017, she published The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online (Polity Press), co-authored with Ryan M. Milner of the College of Charleston. She’s also the author of the three-part ethnographic study "The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Far Right Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators," published in 2018 by Data & Society. Her third book, You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Network Pollution, also co-authored with Ryan M. Milner, is forthcoming with MIT Press in 2021. Phillips is currently an ideas columnist at WIRED magazine and has published dozens of popular press pieces on digital culture and ethics in outlets including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Slate.
Ryan M. Milner is Associate Professor of Communication at the College of Charleston. Professor Milner studies internet culture, which means he studies everything from funny GIFs to Twitter debates to large scale propaganda campaigns. Throughout this work, he assesses how online interaction matters socially, politically, and culturally. He’s the author of The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media and the co-author of The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online with Whitney Phillips (Polity, 2017). Ryan has also contributed commentary to outlets like TIME, Slate, The Los Angeles Review of Books, NBC News, and The New York Times.