Networks Without a Cause, Geert Lovink's latest book on the social impact of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Google, and so on. For those of you not acquainted with Geert Lovink, he is one of the most brilliant and original theorists around today. He is also the founding director of the Dutch Institute of Network Cultures, whose mission is to explore, document and feed the potential for socio-technological change in the sphere of new media.
"...the forgettable Web 2.0 saga has run its course. The participatory crowds suddenly find themselves in a situation full of tension and conflict -- an unwelcome state of affairs for the pragmatist class who oversaw the internet's formation from the beginning. Criticism of Google and Facebook's privacy violations is on the rise. Conflicts over Net neutrality and WikiLeaks demonstrate that the friction-free days of 'multi-stakeholder' governance -- a loose coalition of corporations, NGOs, and engineers who kept state officials and old-school telecoms at bay, most notably through the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) -- are now over. A bubble has burst again, but this time in the form of the collapsing libertarian consensus model. Internet regulators who favored business and barred state intervention are moving into defense mode. Now that society has overruled their freewheeling ethic, the notion of the internet as an exceptional, unregulated sphere evaporates. The moment of decision bears upon us: which side are you on?" 
An optimist par excellence, Jenkins claims that digital infrastructure has a key role to play not only in supporting the public sphere, but in reinforcing the value of arenas for civic engagement (from bars to bowling alleys), but it is a belief that lacks critical vision. Limiting his observations largely to media presence, Jenkins explores circulation practices that expand civic space and create strong new links between various different social groups and spheres, taking the approach of a liberal consumer optimist.
Which is yours?