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Bits and Atoms explores the governance potential found in the explosive growth of digital information and communication technology in areas of limited statehood. Today, places with weak or altogether missing state institutions are tied internally and to the larger world by widely available digital technology. The chapters in the book explore questions of when and if the growth in digital technology can fill some of the governance vacuum created by the absence of an effective state. For example, mobile money could fill a gap in traditional banking or mobile phones could allow rural populations to pay for basic services and receive much needed advice and market pricing information. Yet, as potentially revolutionary as this technology can be to areas of limited statehood, it still faces limitations. Bits and Atoms is a thought-provoking look at the prospects for and limitations of digital technology to function in place of traditional state apparatuses.
Steven Livingston is Professor of Media and Public and International Affairs at the School of Public Affairs & Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, and he is the author of When The Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina (Chicago, 2007), Clarifying the CNN Effect (Harvard, 1997), Terrorism Spectacle (Westview, 1994). Gregor Walter-Drop is the Managing Director of the Collaborative Research Center at the Freie Universitat Berlin.