In February  2013 Julie was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, visiting her dad
and stepmother, while her husband, Joe, attended an academic conference.
She spent most of her days toggling between teaching her ­father how to
use his new smartphone and reading Tiziana Terranova’s Network Culture:
Politics for the Information Age. Emily was back home, dabbling in affect
theory. Inspired by our recent explorations of Sara Ahmed’s The Promise of
Happiness and Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism, Emily picked up Ordinary
Affects by Kathleen Stewart and found her way to Stewart’s meditation on
Berlant’s book, a short piece called “Pockets.”
At the time, we ­ w ere searching for something that felt right, something
that felt adequate to capture the lives of the twenty-­nine ­mothers we had
just finished spending time with, whose mundane media lives are the sub-
ject of this book. More specifically, Julie was trying to get “outside” un-
helpful debates about the new powers of digital media (i.e., participatory
culture vs. surveillance culture), while Emily was trying to push beyond
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