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Palgrave Macmillan

Digital Fever

Taming the Big Business of Disinformation

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • Proposes an innovative remedy to overcome the crisis of misinformation and outrage gripping society
  • Offers a critically astute yet accessible general theory of the digital age
  • Provides a ground-breaking exploration of the debate on digitization and the democratic public sphere

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About this book

Terror warnings, fake news, spectacles and scandals in real time – the networked world has wound itself up into a nervous frenzy, where everything has become visible: the banal and the terrible, the uninhibited abuse and the anonymous attack.

Translated for the first time into English, Digital Fever analyses the patterns of outrage and agitation that have come to define social media and the Internet, exposing their devastating impact on our notions of truth, debate, authority and power. In this endless cycle of outrage, Poerksen argues that the intelligent use of information must become part of the general education provided by schools: the digital society must be transformed into an editorial one. In order for democracy to survive, we must as a society achieve media maturity.

A blazing tour of the contemporary landscape of fake-news, echo chambers, disinformation, manipulation, and the turbulence that democracy is undergoing, this book not only analysesthis digital economy of outrage, but serves as a guiding light to overcome it.

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Table of contents (7 chapters)


"Fake news, bots and foreign interference are just part of the new media landscape that is reshaping – almost daily – our culture and even the sense we have of ourselves. Newspapers have always been prone to scandal and “man bites dog“ kind of stories, but today the digital flow is unlimited, instanteneous and disruptive. As Bernhard Poerksen shows this means a radically changed and charged world as billions of people check their cell phone each day. Authority falls away because each person is now consumer, producer and distributor of stories – chosen for excitement rather than veracity. Poerksen tells us that there is a way forward but only if schools utterly transform learning and prepare students to dissect and understand this brave new world of endless digital flow."

Jerry Brown, governor of California (1975-83; 2011-2019)


"No longer do journalists independently control the gateway to the public world, says Bernhard Pörksen in his new book, Digital Fever. "The fourth power of traditional journalism has been joined by the fifth power of the networked many," which can be organized to reject and discredit the work that journalists do. Meanwhile, The Media, in his vision, "short-circuit the private and the public awareness of things." Poerksen´s heady description of the communications world we are moving toward is unlike any I have read. It made me rebuild my understanding of what is going on. Try it against yours."

Jay Rosen, writer and professor of journalism at New York University


"Bernhard Poerksen brilliantly guides the reader through a shifting media landscape, without either simply accepting the new or nostalgically idealizing the gatekeepers of old. Never afraid to evaluate, but never content to just evaluate, this book makes an implicit case for curiosity and precision as cardinal virtues of our age of informational climate change. Timely and deeply necessary."

Adrian Daub, Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, Stanford University

Authors and Affiliations

  • Medienwissenschaft, Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany

    Bernhard Poerksen

About the author

Bernhard Poerksen, born in 1969, is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tübingen. Rising to prominence through his work on scandal, he has published on a rich array of topics, including ‘The Unleashed Scandal’ with Hanne Detel, ‘Truth is the Invention of a Liar’ with cybernetician Heinz von Foerster, and ‘From Being to Doing’ with neurobiologist Humberto Maturana. In 2008 he was voted ‘Professor of the Year’ in Germany in recognition of the quality of his teaching.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Digital Fever

  • Book Subtitle: Taming the Big Business of Disinformation

  • Authors: Bernhard Poerksen

  • Translated by: Alison Rosemary Koeck, Wolfram Karl Koeck

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-89521-1Published: 04 April 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-89522-8Published: 04 April 2022

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 213

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Digital/New Media, Social Media, Media Sociology, Media Policy, Journalism

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