When communication professor Ananda Mitra set out to write about the complex problems and issues generated by the widespread adoption of digital technology, he knew he had taken on a big job. So big, it led him to write 10 books simultaneously.
The first six books in The Digital World series will be released in June. Each book is about 120 pages long and addresses a specific issue about digital technology.
The first books deal with how digital technology like the Internet and its massive connective reach affect everything from games to entertainment to communication. Another four books that deal with photography, commerce, navigation and art will be published later.
Mitra says he enjoyed the synergy of tackling so many ideas at once. “This is also extremely energizing, mainly because I’ve enjoyed writing in this fashion,” he said. “I’m hoping there will be another series.”
Mitra is chair of the Department of Communication, but he also has a bachelor’s degree in technology from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India.
He says the The Digital World series is intended to help people understand how digital technologies are changing the world. “Each of these books have been written in a way that is accessible to the general population,” he said. The books are being published through Facts on File and are available for advance purchase online through Borders and Amazon. The books will also be available as e-books, a reflection of how a book printed on paper may no longer hold the mass appeal it used to.
Mitra also has two other books coming out this year. One deals with how people are alienated from the digital tools they use. “I want to place the tools in front of everybody so everyone can grasp how they work, how they’re changing everyone’s lives,” he said.
The other book is on the best practices in conducting social-science research in collecting feedback from the general population about programs provided by local government agencies such as police departments and parks and recreation departments.