Infinite Jest and the Internet

A session at SXSW Interactive 2011

Sunday 13th March, 2011

3:30pm to 4:30pm (CST)

David Foster Wallace's 1996 novel _Infinite Jest_ imagines a not-too-distant future in which the equivalents of Hulu and Netflix streaming kill the advertising business to such an extent that the government decides to save the economy with "sponsored time": hence, a great deal of the novel's action takes place in the "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment." The book is deeply (if hilariously) pessimistic about people's chances of connecting with one another in a culture built on one-way media consumption -- this pessimism, of course, is represented most baldly by The Entertainment, a technology-enhanced movie so entertaining that anyone who once sees it becomes incapable of doing anything other than watching it over and over again.

This panel will, broadly speaking, address the question of whether David Foster Wallace was or would have been a Clay Shirky fan. In other words, would (did) Wallace believe that the Internet is better for us than TV because we are active participants in the creation of Internet content? Why are the digerati enamored of _Infinite Jest_, and what can the book tell us about the Internet's potential to help or hinder human connection?

LEVEL: Intermediate

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Amanda French

PhD in English lit, singer-songwriter, tech fan. bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Matt Bucher

Run a listserv about David Foster Wallace and a blog about Google Street View. bio from Twitter

18 attendees

  • Amanda French
  • Christina Cacioppo
  • Dean Cruse
  • ijbro
  • jeremyet
  • joanne mcneil
  • Joseph Miller
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick
  • Kirstin Butler
  • Matt Bucher
  • Max Mendelsohn
  • Christian Metts
  • Pat Allan
  • Richard Nash
  • Sarah Rapp
  • Walter Elly
  • Douglas Warshaw
  • Jeff Triplett

16 trackers

  • Anna Debenham
  • Anonymous
  • Ben Guthrie
  • Benjamin Turner
  • Clementine Gallot
  • Chris Sweet
  • Dan W
  • Wade Austin
  • katherine maher
  • Larry Archer
  • liangcw
  • Tim Holden
  • @r4vi
  • Craig Saila
  • Shane Richmond
  • Adam Keys

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Time 3:30pm4:30pm CST

Date Sun 13th March 2011


Hill Country AB, Hyatt Regency Austin

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