The Digital Turn


How the Internet Transforms Our Existence


Wim Westera


© 2013



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Note from the author

“Media are the cognitive tools that help us to extend our knowledge of the world. Radio, TV and the web stretch our mental horizons and help us to achieve a better understanding of the world and ourselves. At the same time the ever-growing parade of new digital media may easily confuse us and produce distorted worldviews. I decided to write this book to counteract this confusion. The Digital Turn offers a helicopter view of media and their functioning. Its purpose is to stretch the reader’s media literacy beyond the level of superficial, manifest and volatile media characteristics, and to allow them stay in control of the media they use rather than being controlled by the media they use.

It may seem a bit strange to come up with a book in today’s digital age, particularly when the author points out the impact of digital media, but, frankly, in many respects books remain superior communication media. In 1920 Thomas Alva Edison proclaimed the end of books for teaching because film, the new medium that would bring the sounds and images of the world inside the classroom, would make book superfluous. How greatly mistaken he was! As I explain in my book, film is different, not better (pages 170-172). Books are splendid, high-quality media that are tangible, flexible, portable, and personal, and particularly suited for narration and argumentation, possibly enriched with little anecdotes and appealing examples that make you want to read on. I hope you enjoy the reading!”

Wim Westera 







About the author

Wim Westera is full professor of digital media at the Open University of the Netherlands. He holds a PhD in physics and mathematics (Utrecht University). Having been trained at the BBC, he created dozens of TV programs and documentaries. Since the nineties, he has been involved as a researcher and practitioner in educational simulation, multimedia, and technology-enhanced learning. The Digital Turn is a derivative of his long-standing professional involvement in media research and development. His main motive for writing this book has been to enable readers to enhance their digital media literacy and remain in control of the media they use. He asserts that understanding the mechanisms of digital media beyond the level of practical operation is a necessary condition for human functioning in a digitally-enhanced world. He wrote many papers and chapters about media for learning and is the author of the book: Audiovisual Design, Theory and Practice (in Dutch).

various of his research preprints, presentations, columns and blogs on Technology Enhanced Learning on his personal website at