Decoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture

272 pages

2 tables

March, 2013

ISBN: 9780814708675



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Stephanie Ricker Schulte is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Arkansas.

All books by Stephanie Ricker Schulte

In the 1980s and 1990s, the internet became a major player in the global economy and a revolutionary component of everyday life for much of the United States and the world. It offered users new ways to relate to one another, to share their lives, and to spend their time—shopping, working, learning, and even taking political or social action. Policymakers and news media attempted—and often struggled—to make sense of the emergence and expansion of this new technology. They imagined the internet in conflicting terms: as a toy for teenagers, a national security threat, a new democratic frontier, an information superhighway, a virtual reality, and a framework for promoting globalization and revolution.
Schulte maintains that contested concepts had material consequences and helped shape not just our sense of the internet, but the development of the technology itself. Cached focuses on how people imagine and relate to technology, delving into the political and cultural debates that produced the internet as a core technology able to revise economics, politics, and culture, as well as to alter lived experience. Schulte illustrates the conflicting and indirect ways in which culture and policy combined to produce this transformative technology.


  • This is the most culturally sophisticated history of the Internet yet written. We can't make sense of what the Internet means in our lives without reading Schulte's elegant account of what the Internet has meant at various points in the past 30 years.

    —Siva Vaidhyanathan, Chair of the Department of Media Studies at The University of Virginia

  • "Schulte (Univ. of Arkansas) captures the reader's attention in the first chapter by showing how the science fiction film WarGames (1983) gave the Internet both a game for teenagers and a 'potential weapon for global destruction....' A useful, scholarly resource for readers interested in the cultural development of the Internet."


  • "The strengths of Cached: Decoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture lie in its rich, detailed, engaging, and engrossing stories of the Internet. Schulte convincingly shows technology as a product of historical legacies, as well as cultural and politics."

    —Bessie Chu, International Journal of Communication

  • "Cached closely captures popular struggles over the narration of computing technology, and the ensuing responses by society in both trying to dismantle as well as reinforce the boundaries of access to computer networking technologies. Schulte convincingly narrates these struggles by engaging with the changing debates on the functionalism of computing technologies."

    Telecommunications Policy