cover of book

The Digital Is Kid Stuff: Making Creative Laborers for a Precarious Economy
by Josef Nguyen
University of Minnesota Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-5179-1114-0 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-1115-7
Library of Congress Classification HD8072.5
Dewey Decimal Classification 004.678083


How popular debates about the so-called digital generation mediate anxieties about labor and life in twenty-first-century America

“The children are our future” goes the adage, a proclamation that simultaneously declares both anxiety as well as hope about youth as the next generation. In The Digital Is Kid Stuff, Josef Nguyen interrogates this ambivalence within discussions about today’s “digital generation” and the future of creativity, an ambivalence that toggles between the techno-pessimism that warns against the harm to children of too much screen time  and a techno-utopianism that foresees these “digital natives” leading the way to innovation, economic growth, increased democratization, and national prosperity.  

Nguyen engages cultural histories of childhood, youth, and creativity through chapters that are each anchored to a particular digital media object or practice. Nguyen narrates the developmental arc of a future creative laborer: from a young kid playing the island fictions of Minecraft, to an older child learning do-it-yourself skills while reading Make magazine, to a teenager posting selfies on Instagram, to a young adult creative laborer imagining technological innovations using design fiction. 

Focusing on the constructions and valorizations of creativity, entrepreneurialism, and technological savvy, Nguyen argues that contemporary culture operates to assuage profound anxieties about—and to defuse valid critiques of—both emerging digital technologies and the precarity of employment for “creative laborers” in twenty-first-century neoliberal America. 

See other books on: Children's Studies | Computers | Internet and children | Labor | Social Aspects
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