Those who teach using new media methods can use theories developed in this book as a jumping off point for pedagogical development. Those interested in reading a scholarly text composed with personal anecdotes, events from popular culture, and in a multimodal fashion may be interested in this purposefully idiosyncratic book. Readers interested in the spatial turn, particularly as mediated via digital means, will appreciate Rice's theoretical construction of space, as well as its application to a place with considerable cache in the popular imagination. I would be interested as well in hearing responses to this book by readers, whether academics or not, who have a relationship with Detroit.
Despite Rice’s careful attention to treat Detroit in a nuanced fashion as a means to avoid the polarizing stories that he writes against, there is one moment that stands out as a startling contradiction to this tendency. This moment occurs in chapter 5 when Rice explores the act of decision making against the account of the 2005 murder of Studio 8 owner Amjed A. Abdallah, as well as a personal narrative about Rice’s relationship to Creem magazine. In a uncharacteristically tactless sentence, Rice compares “the mystery” of Abdallah’s murder to the mystery of a missing Creem magazine from his life (218). Though a fleeting moment in an otherwise generous treatment of a place and, by extension, its people, this comparison between a life and a literary artifact reflects problematic mainstream media representations of the devaluation of non-white lives. This tactlessness seems certainly not intentional, but it is troubling nonetheless.
However, this moment can serve as a metaphor for Rice's overarching argument. Throughout Digital Detroit, Rice argues that the network is relational and, though an unfortunate comparison, the examples of Abdullah and Creem are relational to Rice. The relationships of the network are layered, emotional, and built upon patterns yet remotely unique to each user and creator. The network is also constructed by acts of decisions, hyperbolic gestures, arrangement, delivery, place, and meaning making. Thus, like the city of Detroit, the network is a rhetorical site where material and theoretical conditions play out against a backdrop of promise, resistance, and hum of the everyday.