Writing a Digital History with Digital Documents (1 of 2)

Digital Culture Industry: A History of Digital Distribution was the result of a three-year research project into the history of digital piracy. The project attempted to understand how media retail went from discs to downloads, accounting for individual agency, software design and the wider social changes. This lecture will provide an overview of the project and examine how the research method topic and structure all influenced each other within a social research project.

This lecture was delivered as part of the BA in Sociology at the University of Essex, Spring 2014.


My Book is Out Now!

Book cover: Digital Culture IndustryDigital Culture Industry:
A History of Digital Distribution

I’m very happy to announce that my book is finally out with Palgrave Macmillan.

If you’re interested in the history of peer-to-peer piracy and how it shaped digital media today this is the book for you. Covering MP3.com, Napster, GNUtella, Kazaa, Streamcast, Grokster, BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay this comprehensive history is a great read for anyone interested in the field of digital media.

….if I do say so myself.

For a more comprehensive overview of the book head over to the book page where you can see reviews and chapter summaries.

There was a lot of research that went into the book, and a lot of resources to boot. If you’d like to see some of the things I made related to the book head over to this blog post and also take a look at the resources.

Available now from…


Academic Therapy

There are no books in my collection that I value quite as much as the one’s that would (or should) fall into the category of ‘Academic Therapy’. Designed with the intention of providing helpful practical guidance on topics such as academic writing, how to teach, or getting published, these texts inevitably end up more therapists couch than An Idiot’s Guide to…

My first of these type of books was Becker’s Writing for Social Scientists, a comfortingly small book that, rather than scoldingly reminding you of the grammar you should have learnt years ago, soothingly assured me that feeling completely at odds with your own brain, was actually fairly common amongst the academic population. I haven’t read Becker for a while so for the moment all I will say is this: If you get the feeling that, despite wanting to write, despite knowing what to write, and despite the deadline that means you have to write, that your brain is conspiring against you, then you need to read Becker.

The most recent addition to the Academic Therapy collection is William Germano’s From Dissertation to Book. The title says it all; how to turn your recently minted PhD thesis, into a marketable, pleasantly readable (lets admit now that they usually aren’t) book. Coming from the position of both a social scientist, and as an editor, Germano understands…. he just understands. Germano understands that in all likelihood you would like your thesis to be a book, but would rather never look at the thing again. He understands that you are plagued with doubt about whether you’ve actually done anything worthwhile for the past however many years that thing took you. He understands that your literature review exists only because the people in charge of the shiny certificates said you had to. However most importantly, he also understands what an editor is thinking when you naively hand them your book proposal and say “I wrote a book me!”

If you’ve just finished your PhD, and you’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, that slab of paper you just created might have a book in it somewhere, Germano will help you really decide if you do, and then tell you what to do. The practical advice is brilliant, from prepping the manuscript, through revising, restructuring, it’s all there. However where it shines is the therapy. The book never makes you feel like you should be the expert, nor that something is obvious. You’ve just finished your PhD for God’s sake, you’re lucky you survived in the first place. You don’t know anything about publishing, you were busy contemplating the minutia of your topic and trying to remember to eat now and again. You might be an expert in your field, but equally likely you know bugger all about how the real world works.

Not to worry, Germano’s got your back. With a soothing sympathetic tone this book will guide you not only through the practical hurdles, but also the one’s your brain will throw up for you too.

Progress Report: We Have a Spike in the System

Don't look in the closet

Just updated the videos on how peer-to-peer networks work to Youtube videos. Now they are available in glorious HD, with surround sound, 4D vision and an immersive simulator technology that makes you feel like you really are there…. in a diagram of a network architecture. Well the HD is cool I suppose.

Also having not checked my stats for the site in a while I was pleasantly surprised to see I reached a new daily peak of visits this week. I have no idea why there was such a spike as apparently all visitors reached the site entirely on their own (without an outside link or google search). Ego me wants to presume my website was cited in some high class lecture and then all the students simultaneously loaded it up on their iPads as in this fantasy the University is horrendously well funded.

However realist me also knows that not all visits to a website are human, and it may just have been a case of the spiders; a phrase which gives me the jibblies.

I have my Viva in precisely seven days, which is rather terrifying. A viva is essentially a time when you, after slaving for three years over a tome of 100,000 words, are questioned on it relentlessly by two very clever people. It’s the academic equivalent of the realising-you’re-naked-in-the-classroom nightmare; they may as well be picking holes in your soul.

Finally in other news I’m currently knocking out book proposals to a variety of publishers to see if I can’t get my history of digital distribution published. Responses so far have been positive so you never know I might be shamelessly hawking my book on here in a years time, we can only hope.