Hi Goblin,

While I agree with your assessment (because often people are trying to bite off too much in their analysis of the Internet and/ or have an strong agenda to advance) there is a lot of really good work out there on the culture, politics, and sociology of digital media that is more modest and bounded in scope (but a lot of it is perhaps a bit boring to read as written for academic audiences).

I wrote a long review essay which you can find on my web page that will point you to hundreds of books and articles that I think have accurately and fairly assessed the terrain, although to be sure, there is still a lot more work to be done and I am not sure if we can reach or should very general assessments about sociality, for example on the Internet. You do and should always bound your analysis by a set of issues and questions or else you risk being too general in your work.

(http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/faculty_bios/view/Gabriella_Coleman look for the Annual Review of Anthropology).

There is also a lot of really good journalistic work out there too and their work is key because their material is more readable than so much academic material and comes out quicker than our own work. Thomas has already pointed out some of this stuff but some journalists who have grappled with and represented hackers and virtual with a lot of nuance are Steven Levy and Julian Dibbell.

As per my own work, it is generally oriented toward the politics of digital media with a more particular focus on free software, trolls, Anonymous and a few other things and have been involved also with digital activism as well.

I can’t speak to everything about the Internet or digital media and try to limit myself to these topics, although I try to keep abreast of trends and dynamics that are connected to my fields of study. There is a ton I still don’t know and am constantly humbled about the depth and the complexity of these worlds and am always open to learning more and being told that I am off in my fact or assessment. So if there is anything particular jumped out I am all ears.

Finally and I think this insight is not only hinged to the digital: some arenas are easier to study and access than others. I have found this to be true for my own work. The ethics of transparency and access among free software hackers has made it a lot easier to study than Anonymous or trolls, which are more obscure and confusing.

But this is not only the case with digital formations. Trying to pin down the ’causes’ of social revolutions can be notoriously hard in many cases and there are some groups (the Italian mafia, for example) that are really hard to crack. The ability to understandably social worlds is distributed quite unevenly.