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Information, Communication & Society
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THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME
Leah A. Lievrouw
a a

Department of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 216 GSE&IS Building, Box 951520, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1520, USA Version of record first published: 18 Apr 2012.

To cite this article: Leah A. Lievrouw (2012): THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME, Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 616-638 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.675691

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Leah A. Lievrouw
THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME Ways ahead for new media studies

Downloaded by [188.25.224.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012

In this paper, three features of the Internet/new media that have developed over the last decade are discussed: the relational Internet, the enclosed Internet, and the ‘mean world’ Internet. These features correspond to the three interrelated elements of new media infrastructure: the practices in which people engage to interact and share information and meaning; the tools, devices, or artifacts that people create and use in order to do so; and the social arrangements or institutional forms that develop out of and around those practices and tools. Together, the three features have had an important influence on the ways that new media are understood and used and have helped shift popular discourses and the study of new media from an emphasis on possibility, novelty, adaptability, and openness toward greater preoccupations with risk, conflict, vulnerability, routinization, stability, and control. Given these conditions, the author proposes that three problem areas – again corresponding to practices, tools, and social arrangements – may be important directions for new media studies over the ‘next decade in Internet time’. Network literacies and pedagogies that prepare individuals to be full and effective participants in society, politics, and culture must be developed and implemented. Dead media may pose increasing challenges to sustainable cultural heritage as well as to ever more intrusive regimes of total surveillance and capture of personal information, enabling a ‘right to be forgotten’. Commons knowledge projects may challenge and even reconfigure the foundations of institutional authority, expertise, legitimacy, and power. Keywords communication studies; cyberculture; ICTs; mobile technology; surveillance/privacy (Received 17 November 2011; final version received 12 March 2012)

Introduction
‘The Internet’ is now over 40 years old. While many early visions and expectations for networked computing and telecommunications have been realized, numerous others (for both good and ill) that the original developers of the
Information, Communication & Society Vol. 15, No. 5, June 2012, pp. 616 –638 ISSN 1369-118X print/ISSN 1468-4462 online # 2012 Leah A. Lievrouw http://www.tandfonline.com http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.675691

under what conditions. Taking the three features as a point of departure. Some of the most significant changes have only appeared in the decade since the Oxford Internet Institute was launched. These conditions have helped shift popular perceptions of online communication and discourses about new media from a longstanding emphasis on possibility. the Internet. tightly bounded. and the ‘mean world’ Internet. and control. or network literacies. inaccessible. The relational. and ‘mean world’ characteristics can be understood as manifestations of the co-determining triad of practices. represent the kind of research problems and issues that may lie ahead for new media studies over the next decade. Developments such as these. novelty. or dead media.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 The last decade in Internet time: three features of the new media landscape Over the last 10 years. and unreadable technology formats and systems. tools. and the growth of amateur. incompatible. which comprise the core elements of new media infrastructure (Lievrouw & Livingstone 2006). the proliferation of obsolete. Together. routinization. conflict. who decides. the enclosed Internet resulting from growing technological and legal restrictions on new media devices and systems. for what purposes. In this paper.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 617 system could scarcely have imagined have emerged. They have also fundamentally shaped the study and understanding of networked media and information technologies and their social and cultural significance and consequences. the increasingly interpersonal and personally customized character of online and mobile communication.and peer-produced commons knowledge. I begin with a discussion of three features of the current Internet/new media ‘landscape’ that have emerged over the last decade: the relational Internet. and openness toward current preoccupations with risk. stability. economic.224. the sense of risk and exposure online that has been used to justify the expansion of increasingly invasive private and state surveillance/security regimes. enclosed. and their articulations and dynamics. Downloaded by [188. as well as the actual use of communication technologies in everyday social. the three aspects of infrastructure are mutually implicated in the forms and quality of mediated communication in society. and. and cultural life. mobile telephony. and risk-averse new media context: the need for new repertoires of communication competencies and logics. and social arrangements. They also set the terms for new media use – who gets to use communication technologies. adaptability. crucially. the discussion moves on to an examination of several developments that have emerged in this relational.25. and related communication technologies have undergone many important changes. vulnerability. both in terms of the platforms themselves and in terms of how people use and understand .

bullying and abuse. Indeed. Friendster. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY them. Facebook.25. intimacy. Practices: the relational Internet Perhaps the most widely discussed change shaping perceptions of and discourse about new media over the last decade has been the more personalized. Nonetheless. identity and self-representation. Nonetheless. unqualified (and unexpected) ‘killer app’ (Newell & Sproull 1982). Downloaded by [188. Johansen et al. Email was the Internet’s first. Since the early 2000s. before graphical user interfaces were generally available. Interpersonal interaction and small group/organizational communication processes have been a major part of networked computing from the earliest days of the ARPANET. and even banalization (Lievrouw 2004) as new media technologies have become more routine. Usenet groups and ‘multi-user dungeons’ for gamers flourished in the 1980s. and a host of other aspects of interpersonal communication in the online context. three main features corresponding to the practices. taken for granted.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Silverstone 2006). 1979. they are also blamed for an unprecedented range of personal risks and harms arising from online interaction.0’ has become shorthand for the clear dividing lines between today’s ‘social’ Internet and the presumably more static. complex computer-supported conferencing and group decisionsupport systems were already in place in many large organizations. tools.618 INFORMATION. the newer systems have accelerated or reinforced the sense that relationships and interactions are central to the experience of using and engaging with media. while ICTs and the Internet are now widely credited in popular culture as sites for greater sociality and participation across traditional social. it has been a period of ‘normalization’. These systems and studies provided the foundation for today’s research field of computer-mediated communication. and cultural boundaries. and integrated into everyday life. personal disclosure. trust. and a growing research literature was already examining interpersonal and small group communication processes online (Short et al.224. and less interactive ‘Web 1. associated with a growing sense of sociality and embeddedness within social and technical networks (what Rheingold (2010) has called ‘net awareness’). Hiltz & Turoff 1993 [1978]). In particular. countless studies have examined changing notions of friendship. relational nature of mediated communication online.0’ that preceded it. In many respects. 1976. the distinction is not that simple or merely a consequence of the introduction of social network platforms such as MySpace. domestication (Haddon 2006. and social arrangements or formations of new media infrastructure have emerged and interacted over time to produce a distinctive ‘climate’ or set of social conditions for contemporary mediated communication. However. documentary. geographic. the pervasive use of social networks and related authoring systems such as blogs and wikis has undoubtedly affected the ways that people think about and use communication technologies in their daily lives. and Google+. By the late 1970s. The term ‘Web 2.

0 is. culturally familiar. 12 – 13) The relational quality of online communication has had other important effects as well. from political debates to recipes to medical advice. pp. the new opportunities for communication and information-sharing have contributed to a parallel sense of risk. or harmful information that may be at odds with their existing perceptions. offensive. Version 1. searchers run the risk of encountering unexpected. interpretation of the Internet ‘versions 1. favorable economic policies and regulatory schemes have promoted investment in wireless communication networks and services and a shift away from the older. Version 2.224. At the same time.0 offers more of the same. and beliefs. Version 2. tastes. and ease of participation that were afforded even then by new media technologies. . Although he proposed this characterization well before the age of Friendster and Myspace. and marketoriented communication and media landscape. and danger among many users. Version 2. debate. Search engines such as Google and Bing are the first stop for users looking for any type of information online. more .109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Version 2. .0 and 2. .0 offers change. and searchers routinely share results with others they know having similar interests or needs.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 619 This sense of the greater opportunities and benefits of online interaction.0’ suggested by Graham Meikle in 2002. (Meikle 2002.0 would nail them down. pressures to impose restrictions on user activities. were likely to prompt a backlash. extensive digital networks. possibility. Search and selectivity (of content. Meikle argued that – perhaps paradoxically – the openness. and insightful. Tools: the enclosed Internet There is little question that new media technologies have become more accessible and adaptable across geographic space. In part. .0 demands openness. applications. perhaps. As he observed: Downloaded by [188. diversity of viewpoints. Version 1. and cultural settings. and among personal contacts and interactions) are now thoroughly integrated into mediated communication and have transformed the production and circulation of traditional mass media-style content. including new horizons for interpersonal interaction. instability. especially since the introduction of browser and search technologies in the early 1990s and the build-out of mobile networks in the 2000s. . and investment in computational capacity and data storage on an unprecedented scale. unfamiliar. diverse populations. Ironically. Version 1. the lesser option .0 offers one-way information flows and a single option presented as ‘choice’ . At the same time.0 would open things up. this has been due to the distribution of relatively inexpensive and powerful mobile devices.25. . paired with a growing sense of risk associated with new forms and venues for interpersonal communication. and the restoration of a more stable. underlies a different. for me. safe.

punish churn (users switching from one service to another) and lock in reliable revenue streams (Zittrain 2008). where off-the-shelf products.224.25. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY expensive.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . a strong do-it-yourself user culture of remixing and hacking has flourished. and interminable contracts with prohibitive penalties for service termination. especially in the areas of media content and entertainment. blackballing. hardware and software firms. To instill respect for intellectual property values. It might seem that the users of new media have never had so much choice and flexibility in the range of available channels and resources. but also to the perpetuation and reinforcement of enduring social. Particularly in the United States. inequities. Personalized communication technologies and information resources are ever more integrated into political processes and economic activity. Established industries and markets have been disrupted and new generations of incumbent firms have emerged. Downloaded by [188. and tastes. and political divides. fair-use. The consequences are now familiar. and threats of criminal prosecution. and more regulated installed base of wire-line telephones and broadcasting. severe (and. Sophisticated devices and services have been appropriated and domesticated (some might say have intruded) into everyday routines of home. and the uncanny sense of immediacy and cohesion among family and friends on Facebook). and their allies in government and law enforcement have responded to DIY (do it yourself) and remix culture with a variety of tactics. on the other hand (the so-called Blackberry riots in the UK and the creepy sense of personal overexposure and lack of privacy on Facebook). Media. and divisions. Incomprehensible licensing agreements1 and ‘pay walls’ restrict information access and circulation in seemingly arbitrary and illogical ways. Besieged authorities and law enforcement seek ‘kill switches’ to shut down Internet access for political activists or unauthorized file sharers (Morozov 2011). and anti-circumvention technologies not only prevent unsanctioned uses and access but actually conceal such choices from users (Cohen 2003). However. work. family. leading to new forms of mobilization and collective action. digital rights management. economic.g. programs. or the so-called Arab spring. leisure. out-of-proportion) lawsuits. Deliberate attempts to skirt intellectual property claims as well as the most innocuous personal. the mobilization against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.620 INFORMATION. At the same time. and reconfigured to suit local or specialized needs. primary school children are drilled on the dangers of ‘piracy’ and reckless information ‘trafficking’ using curricula and lessons helpfully provided to school districts at no charge by entertainment industry groups (Gillespie 2009). or moral panic. and culture. Proprietary apps. some charge. Each adaptation seems to spark new rounds of admiration and optimism. critics charge that the choices are more illusory than real. or non-commercial uses of copyrighted material are met with swift.. on the one hand (e. interests. ‘walled gardens’ of incompatible technical standards and platforms. sampled. and cultural works are all commonly tinkered with.

Data gathering and data classification have become an integral (some say indispensable) part of warfare. collection. observable) versus illegitimate (unpaid. The third. policing. and their colleagues developed cultivation theory.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 621 Downloaded by [188. the subsequent United States-led ‘war on terror’ and insurgencies and assaults against Western states and interests. The attacks of September 11. or have encouraged self-censorship. unobservable) communication. and military conflicts. travel. Social arrangements: the ‘mean world’ Internet In the 1980s. despite (or perhaps to spite) the technological and legal barriers. . and workplace/employee monitoring systems. curtail. Nancy Signorielli. have been reframed as sites of struggle and danger in geopolitical. finance. and possibly most significant. adaptations. health care. and assessment of information about individuals and their activities have become the raison d’etre for social network sites. and fears about criminal networks coordinating and conducting their activities online have dominated media coverage of new media and transfixed the popular imagination. communication scholars George Gerbner. education. search engines. ˆ online publishing and media.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 To the extent that they have affected popular perceptions of appropriate or safe uses of new media technologies. such efforts have advanced private-sector and law enforcement aims of defining what counts as legitimate (paid.224. including a concept they called the ‘mean world syndrome’. Critic Peter Lunenfeld (2011) describes the current cultural arena as a ‘secret war between downloading and uploading’. or prosecute. and particularly the Internet. In commerce and politics. in which media industries (the forces of download) struggle to maintain control over content and distribution in a technological and cultural terrain populated by users (the forces of upload) intent on stitching together new works out of anything they can find and repurpose. and virtually every other aspect of contemporary life. scaled up. They contended that people most heavily exposed to mass media depictions of violence tend to believe that crime and violence are much more prevalent in society than they actually are and tend to be more fearful or mistrustful of others than real social conditions warrant (Gerbner et al. These events are now routinely invoked by authorities to justify the expansion of private and state surveillance/security apparatuses with global scale and personal.25. and sharing them with the larger online world. Yet hackability. 2001. 1986. pinpoint reach. Signorielli 1990). and workarounds persist in the face of every effort to lock down. the rise of grass-roots democracy/independence movements and political oppositions in many developing regions of the world. economic. influence on perceptions and uses of the Internet and new media over the last decade resembles the mean world syndrome. Communication and information networks. the capture.

25. metes out stiffer criminal sanctions for ‘perpetrators of cyber attacks and the producers of related and malicious software’.622 INFORMATION.uk/news/home-office-adopts- Downloaded by [188. A recent European Union directive on ‘cyber crime’ strengthens and expands the authority of the European Network and Information Security Agency.whitehouse. however. and relief agencies. vulnerability. Originally justified by the George W. Despite these questions. security. financial records. Bush administration by the need to streamline the aggregation and sharing of different agencies’ vast stores of intelligence on citizens and foreign visitors. depending on local legal codes.eweekeurope. or shut down outright. enforcing and administering immigration laws. and requires that member states establish their own dedicated cyber-crime agencies and respond within hours to requests from other members for investigation of alleged violations originating within their borders (http://europa. but in so doing could make unwitting owners of computers captured by botnets liable to prosecution. and even library patrons’ borrowing records (with the added proviso that the organizations surrendering the information were prohibited from notifying their clients either that they had been approached by law enforcement or that the information was surrendered). For example. Many of the directive’s provisions have been characterized as unclear or debatable: for example. On an even larger scale. and jurisdictions were quickly reorganized into the single. it would outlaw the activities of whistleblowers as well as organizations such as Wikileaks.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . the agency’s current scope – and the positioning of the Internet as a central point of vulnerability to national security – is suggested by a recent White House statement on the 2012 budget request for the DHS.co. outsize. The agency is described as ‘the principal Federal agency charged with the vital missions of preventing terrorism and enhancing security. and ensuring resilience to disasters’ (http://www. legal regimes. sabotaged. The institutional and legal changes are not restricted to the United States. omnibus US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). safeguarding and securing cyberspace. The directive also makes participation in denial-of-service actions of any sort illegal. missions.gov/omb/factsheet_department_homeland/). including telephone calls.224. by prohibiting the interception of any data deemed confidential. the UK’s Home Office signed on to the directive in February 2011 (http://www. email traffic. a congeries of US federal law enforcement. provisions of the first and second US Patriot Acts allowed government authorities unprecedented access to individuals’ electronic communications without search warrants. based on the assumption that the Internet is a pivotal site of conflict. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY New institutional forms. Extremist or oppositional websites of all stripes are monitored. securing and managing America’s borders.eu/rapid/ pressReleasesAction. after the September 11 events. and political discourses to support and justify these apparatuses have arisen.do?reference=IP/10/1239). and some objections by conservatives in the coalition government. deception. and risk to individuals and the established order.

British politicians recently found themselves on the receiving end of similar.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 623 flawed-eu-cyber-crime-directive-20045. personal expression or interaction online that might criticize their ruling parties. Authoritarian regimes are often criticized by more democratic states for restricting information-seeking. allowing them to shut down social network services. criticism by Iran. including banning rioters from access to communications services. http://www.bbc. and even evicting families of participants in the disturbances from public housing and eliminating their benefits. although as a writer for the news site TechEye. ‘walled’ or enclosed technologies and standards.uk/ blogs/from-both-sides-10005031/government-climbs-down-on-social-networkblocking-10024206/?s_cid=452). However. tools. However. .co. http://www. Facebook.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Practices. The tech news website ZDnet quoted Facebook’s statement that ‘this was a dialogue about working together to keep people safe rather than about imposing new restrictions on Internet services’ and RIM’s declaration that ‘It was a positive and productive meeting and we were pleased to consult on the use of social media to engage and communicate during times of emergency’ (http://www.21cb.net ironically observed.25.zdnet. Activists and opponents of repressive governments are widely praised by Americans and Europeans for their clever uses of social networks and messaging and microblogging services to work around state surveillance and mobilize protests.net/londonriots-china-response/. Libya. policies. and the proliferation of institutions and policies designed to monitor. and Twitter. and none-too-subtle. Downloaded by [188.techeye.theatlanticwire.co. China.com/global/2011/08/ iran-libya-and-china-uk-riots-are-time-taunt/41062/).uk/news/ukpolitics-12354931). Subsequently. Zimbabwe.224. ‘shutting down social networks is a bit like prosecuting the postman’ (http://news.net/Internet/home-officeconcludes-banning-facebook-was-barmy). British leaders suggested severe measures. In response to the urban unrest. the coalition government backed away from its proposals to implement ‘kill switches’. or leadership. shutting down social network sites in times of crisis. the three developments outlined above – the personal-yetexposed quality of online communication. and other authoritarian states that deplored the ‘sickness’ and permissiveness of British society and the hypocrisy of calls by British politicians and the general public for severe ‘crackdowns’ on uses of mobile technologies and the Internet by their own citizens involved in the riots there (http://www. in subsequent talks with industry representatives from Research in Motion (makers of the Blackberry Messenger service). the firms assured the government that they would cooperate with law enforcement efforts to use their systems to track and identify offenders. and arrangements: articulations Considered together.

organizations and institutions also respond and adapt to the available tools and devices and to people’s communication practices and norms. The purview. or threatening). interests. fraud. and social arrangements. Each development corresponds to a different aspect of new media infrastructure: tools. or surrender personal information ranging from financial and travel records to religious beliefs and biometric scans to security firms or law enforcement agencies that assure concerned users that the collection of such detailed individual information is a necessary and appropriate means to prevent and prosecute terrorism. resources. creative. and cultural and ethical norms. and shares data about them. national security and law enforcement directives. predictable. Institutional authorities demand that systems comply with – or even automatically enforce – an expanding range of legal and commercial demands. the devices and systems that are available in given time and place also shape users’ expectations about what the tools can do and what they are for.25.624 INFORMATION. In terms of social arrangements. in part. data capture. competitive rivalries among firms and trade blocs. and stabilize an inherently risky and dangerous online world – point to a future for mediated communication that is more reliable. The relational Internet. aggregates. criminality. but potentially less innovative. but many readily offer real-time information about their whereabouts. including privacy laws. storage. and safe (able to block or flag people. and safe. has become a venue for interpersonal interaction and personal expression. Facebook members may have qualms about how the site gathers. offensive. reliable (less prone to breakdown).224. as pointed out previously. and open. secure (resistant to unwanted intrusion or hijacking). intellectual property claims. size. responsibilities. and activities that users find undesirable. practices. and analysis. contacts. In terms of tools. the enclosed Internet has evolved. and social preferences to Facebook and location-based services such as foursquare or Twitter. Apple. and Amazon dominate their respective industries and markets. By the same token. not only straightforward information-seeking or the consumption and appropriation of media products. Platforms and products designed to be incompatible with those of competitors and digital rights management technologies that restrict users’ access to and uses of media content have helped firms such as Microsoft. Users want applications and devices that are easy to use. and so on. in response to both users’ demands and institutional shifts toward greater oversight and control of online activities. They may use loyalty programs and mobile phone apps that collect information about their shopping habits and product consumption in exchange for discounted merchandise. stable. as Downloaded by [188. and political power of state security and law enforcement agencies have vastly expanded in parallel with the availability of sophisticated systems for surveillance. as well as what people actually do with them. It is useful to examine the articulations among the three aspects and to consider how they have shaped and even reinforced one another. respectively. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY control.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 .

or even other individuals. practices. The three developments discussed in the next section – again. . and traditional institutional power. people. what problem areas or issues may lie ahead for new media research and scholarship? Three are suggested here. for example. The spiral of silence thus reinforces political stability and the status quo. while marginalizing. practices. or spaces of action towards alternative outcomes.25. regulated. and security – and consequent moves towards ever more monitored. tools. Commons knowledge becomes a larger and more influential part of culture. new ways ahead If new media and mediated communication have become more relational. In summary. The articulations among the three elements of infrastructure also create opportunities for pushback.224. and a shift in one aspect can provoke corresponding shifts across the other two. control. Network literacies and pedagogies are prerequisites for effective social. and political participation. on demand. and social arrangements are dynamic: each builds on and reinforces the others. This may or may not be a welcome prospect. safety. but also that new media scholars should develop equally innovative approaches and perspectives to understand events as they unfold in the next decade in Internet time. and social arrangements of new media infrastructure – suggest not only that contemporary communication technologies remain open to new or unexpected uses and forms. enclosed. which hypothesizes that interpersonal communication and mass media echo and reinforce popular opinions. global-scale ‘spiral of silence’. Technologies. and patterns of organization – may look like a vicious circle or downward feedback loop. anywhere.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 well as sharply increased citizen demands for public safety and protection from risk. preoccupations with risk. The situation might also be likened to a kind of digital. and exclusionary systems. However. and institutions are being driven toward a dystopian scenario where all forms of expressions and relationships are open to inspection by commercial interests. anytime. challenging expertise. knowledge authorities. and social arrangements is always a matter of feed forward or path dependence with largely determined outcomes. Dead media pose an ever greater challenge to the sustainability of cultural heritage as well as to regimes of total surveillance and capture of personal information. the state. gaps. filtered.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 625 Downloaded by [188. Noelle-Neumann’s (1984) theory of public opinion formation and mass communication. the articulations among tools. it is not necessarily the case that the articulation between tools. From the progressive-left or libertarian perspective. actions. and risk averse. sanctioning. economic. they correspond to the practices. New developments. standardized. reliability. and silencing unpopular or disruptive ideas.

some of the most compelling questions for the next decade in Internet time may ask what pedagogies must be implemented for teaching and learning network literacy and how to do so. playfulness. persistence. demonstrations. and making linkages and correspondences. As with other forms of literacies. or entirely. and knowledge). more accurately) and related concepts has attracted intense interest recently among researchers and educators. and an orientation toward tinkering. argued that ‘new media literacies’ comprise digital literacies plus media literacies. ‘come naturally’ – it must be taught and learned. the Learning Through Digital Media project at the New School in New York City has collected essays. and an ethics challenge (the breakdown of traditional professional training and norms). The idea of network literacy (or literacies. this requires that individuals master an emergent. an aptitude for organizing. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Practices: network literacies It is one thing to say that communication online has become more relational. They suggested that new media literacies are stymied less by simple access to technologies than by a participation gap (lack of access to learning opportunities. however. In his introduction to the project. As an ensemble. judgment. skills. teaching tools. networking. we might think of this repertoire of competencies as network literacy. socialized. simulation. and the arts. proficiency in the network context does not necessarily. a transparency problem (ability to recognize how media shape people’s perceptions of the world). and content materials and made them available in both print and online forms. Similarly. pattern recognition. articulated repertoire of communicative competencies that mixes interpersonal and group process fluency. and expressive.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 .25. design. and negotiation. and the ability to work well with others on-the-fly are at the heart of an attitude that allows learners to cope with the unrelenting velocity of technological change in Downloaded by [188. editor and project leader Trebor Scholz noted that ‘The most burning problem for digital learning is technological obsolescence and the attendant need to learn and readapt to new technological milieus and cycles of transformation’. where communication networks are conceived as inextricably social and technological. (2009) at the University of Southern California’s New Media Literacies Project. Jenkins et al. flexibility. In practical terms. multitasking. engineering/programming. distributed cognition. and the crafting of messages that is more typically associated with traditional media production. transmedia navigation. but suggested that technological facility is dependent on an even more important set of learned attitudes: ‘Openness.224. For example. collective intelligence. They included 11 core skills as new media literacies: play. experiences.626 INFORMATION. performance. supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative. Those who are network literate are as comfortable with divergent cultural ideas and expressions as they are with the channels and methods for generating and sharing them. appropriation. Thus.

com/). weak ties. and network-literate individuals should be ready to question that ontology as well as their own epistemic values about how useful or valid information and knowledge are gained and understood. critical consumption (what he calls ‘crap detection’).posterous. and net awareness (see also http://howardrheingold. The first is the crucial and growing need for people to be able to evaluate information sources and content. and others would surely agree – that virtually all the skills or attitudes they espouse are essential components of critical thinking that should be cultivated regardless of technological or cultural setting. net awareness includes not just a sense of the architecture of communication technology and how it enables some kinds of action and information flows and constrains others. and not just for young learners. However. judgment and evaluation in the network context may not simply be a matter of comparing new or untested information against established standards or truth claims. The ways that information is generated and organized are fundamentally ontological. social intelligence has been proposed as the ability to seek and evaluate information in complex social and technological webs (Cronin & Davenport 1993). For Rheingold (2010). and power. cooperation.224. deliberate misinformation.learningthroughdigitalmedia. and so on – must be the core of teaching and learning about networks. For example. defined as the ability to imagine and visualize networks of social and Downloaded by [188. network externalities. Although these are two of the more widely known efforts currently.25. spin.’s ‘transparency problem’ and Rheingold’s notion of net awareness. The second distinctive aspect of network literacy is suggested by Jenkins et al. implied by Jenkins’s emphasis on judgment and Rheingold’s ‘crap detection’. linkages. Similarly.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 627 the twenty-first century’ (http://www. incivility and bias. Rheingold insist that the core principles and techniques of social network analysis – power laws and the long tail phenomenon. and so on (see the following section on commons knowledge). a couple of factors set network literacy apart. organization and gatekeeping are being challenged or eroded by more participatory and inclusive peer-production practices online. structural equivalence. the network imaginary. Jenkins.net/ introduction-learning-through-digital-media#more-362/). online and off. Both concepts imply that the network-literate person must understand how he or she is situated vis-a-vis others and the larger social and technological world beyond the relations and circumstances at hand.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Lievrouw and Nguyen (2007) have proposed a related conceptual framework. Long-time Internet observer and pundit Rheingold (2010) has advocated a scheme for network literacy that encompasses five foundational competencies: attention. And unlike many other observers calling for a new network perspective in teaching and learning. which can also be prone to revisionism. centrality/prominence. similar ideas underlie a number of related concepts. cliques and subgroup structures. it also requires a sense of interpersonal and group relatedness. participation. Such skills are especially important as traditional modes of knowledge generation. It might be argued – and Rheingold. Going one step further.

or intemperate videos that. professional status.25. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Downloaded by [188. can never be completely tracked down and deleted. In both popular culture and research accounts. is a particularly powerful way to think about ‘making the invisible visible’). But over the next decade. possible breakdown. much of the interest in new media technologies over the last decade has stemmed from their seemingly limitless capacity for information capture. including the extension. might be expected to be a fundamental part of any network or new media pedagogy. compromising photos. however. as well as the skills for mapping and analyzing networks. and roles and to ‘teach for remediation and reconfiguration’ (Lievrouw 2009). reverse engineering.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 technical relations and links. Tools: dead media As the preceding discussion suggests. for example. within their immediate surroundings and beyond. navigation and search (interpersonal. and political) have not usually been counted as major aspects of communicative competence. and consequences of these relations. or personal life. relations. and analysis. dependencies. lurking indefinitely in remote corners of cyberspace. Other core competencies might include hacking. a few other competencies might be needed to round out any comprehensive account of network literacy. and repurposing. People can anticipate the effects of their actions on these relations and consequences. storage. The network imaginary shapes people’s perceptions of the range of action open to them. informational. and invention. in material/physical and virtual/mediated places alike. events. online and offline – can and will be recorded and kept using cheap. once posted online. in what has been called ‘perfect remembering’ (Mayer-Schonberger 2009). in other systems. ready to be disinterred and circulated inappropriately when the author least expects or needs it. it will be necessary to move beyond enduring assumptions and didactic habits in order to see communication itself as a manifestation of continuously reorganizing networks of action. Certainly. high-precision digital recording technologies and storage media. Cultivating this sense of situatedness and options for action.224. It has become commonplace to assume that everything – all aspects of life and culture. with dire consequences for his or her reputation. ¨ stories abound about thoughtless email messages. selective. Visualization – the ability to conceptualize and render/depict complex or abstract concepts in creative ways in a variety of formats and media – is especially valuable as communication technologies become less and less tied to text (Vesna’s (2007) concept of Database Aesthetics. few would argue that these are minor or secondary skills given today’s technology and culture. for example. and places in the larger world. people. Critics contend that the personal and social risks of such total capture and recall require new technologies and policies to facilitate the deliberate. remixing.2 Unwanted files seem to become deathless. For example.628 INFORMATION. .

The fact of cultural forgetting.224. or patients insist that such data become their property and that the individuals whose data have been collected have no right to retrieve. including a ‘right to be forgotten’ (O’Brien 2011). excluded from the record. All cultures forget.25. should be viewed skeptically. devices. In the first place. has recently advocated revisions to the EU Data Protection Directive that would increase individuals’ control over personal information online. suppressed. or delete them. loss-free digital capture of all knowledge and information. 2] has Downloaded by [188. and is unlikely ever to be. the European justice commissioner. clients. Conclusions are inevitably drawn on the basis of incomplete. possible. the idea of total. modify. and architectures become obsolete and are abandoned in favor of the next new design with little or no consideration for retaining the records or functions of the old systems. especially in comparison to physical and analog formats. contradictory. p. and storage systems) are notably short lived and incompatible across platforms and standards. or ‘perfect remembering’. digital culture is no exception. and divergent information. sabotaged. There is little question that individuals should be able to exercise much more control over their personal information online than is generally permitted today. and ephemeral forms of record-keeping ever devised. disorganized. and technological and legal safeguards against such ubiquitous data-gathering and third-party profiling are desirable and should be pursued. or personally risky information from the world’s databases. The basic tools of the Internet (digital recording and transmission technologies. incompatible. pulled out of context. Historically. There is little about culture today to suggest that these processes have changed in any fundamental way as a consequence of digital communication technologies. for example. or never recorded at all. Privacy policies on Facebook have evolved over time as a result of similar tensions: the efforts of the site’s owners to appropriate users’ postings and network links as proprietary information to be sold to advertisers have been met with repeated waves of resistance from regulators and users who insist that they should have greater control over who has access to their information and how it can be used. Digital files and databases are notoriously fugitive and difficult to preserve in usable form for any extended period of time. combined with rapidly accelerating cycles of technological obsolescence and turnover. Viviane Reding. misleading. is the basis of what might be called dead media – possibly the greatest barrier to the dream (or nightmare) of perfect remembering. patrons. (As Rand researcher and preservationist Rothenberg [1999 (1995). formats. In the United States. There are obvious risks associated with the pervasive capture of personal information.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 629 and complete expunging of sensitive. destroyed. However. the total capture and recall of a society’s (or even an individual’s) works and activities has never. the overwhelming majority of human knowledge has been lost. organizations that collect information about customers. Formats.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . they are among the most profoundly fragmented. false.

109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 observed. 2007). and more.) Robust. the real dangers may lie less in ostensibly ‘lossless’ webs of personal dossiers than in the histories written and judgments made on the basis of disconnected scraps of data that rarely survive more than a few years. ‘old bit streams never die – they just become unreadable’. to popular culture (Shirky 2008). Sifry 2011). in addition. . We might consider the implications of dead media for cultural legacy. the resources that are created often challenge or compete with more established. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Downloaded by [188. but have also drawn charges of amateurism. constitutes a ‘perfect’. would it be desirable? These questions.25. and memory. and who decides? Even if total capture of the cultural record were technically possible. authoritative. Wikileaks.630 INFORMATION. granular contributions to very large enterprises that might otherwise be too complex or expensive to undertake. Commons knowledge projects do not mobilize only the efforts of hundreds or even thousands of people. from participatory journalism (Deuze et al. and the enduring cultural fact of incomplete and forgotten information.. deliberate falsification.g. with no good prospects on the horizon. digital preservation is a largely unsolved technical problem. Social arrangements: commons knowledge The collective creation and maintenance of vast collections of information by communities of people with shared interests – what Benkler (2007) has termed ‘commons-based peer production’ – have become important features of online communication. to academic scholarship and science (Lievrouw 2010). compiling. What.224. are usually framed in terms of loss and error. Paradoxically. While several interim strategies for maintaining digital records have been proposed. we might agree with Mayer-Schonberger’s basic insight: the social and ethical benefits ¨ of forgetting tend to be neglected in cultures that place the greatest faith in the ability of digital technologies to capture and keep an absolutely faithful and complete record of the past. inclusive. and relatively gatekeeper-free arena for communication online. authenticity. The third development with important implications for the direction of new media studies is a consequence of this increasingly collaborative. or reliable record – is it even possible? What does it signify or provide evidence of? Why are records kept in the first place? Whose stories are recorded or destroyed (or not). universal methods for the permanent preservation of digital records do not yet exist. collective. who make small. misattribution and misappropriation. to political activism and whistleblowing (e. if anything. These have opened unprecedented opportunities for powerful new modes of knowledge production and collaboration. original. incompetence. expert-driven and institutionally supported modes of generating. However. and circulating knowledge.

commons knowledge projects are just as likely to let contributor-editors decide among themselves what topics and resources are significant and how they should be organized. and others assumed that universal standards for cataloging and classifying huge. Tagging. images. and the second characteristic of commons knowledge is how information is collected and organized.G. In an essay in The Atlantic in 1945 entitled ‘As We May Think’. As the word suggests. and biological specimens. however. recommendation engines.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Hugely successful projects such as Wikipedia continue the tradition of ‘modern encyclopedists’ such as Wells (Rayward 2008b). Wells. and so on. as well as texts – might be collected and organized according to a universal bibliographic catalog that would guide users through networks of links among related resources (see Rayward 2003. 2008a. certainly brings forward many of the same concerns about undigested. commenting/annotation systems. unconnected pieces of information articulated by Vannevar Bush. Bush proposed a device called memex that would allow users to find connections across diverse bodies of scientific knowledge and retrieve documents directly to a microfilmbased workstation (Bush 1945). Wright 2008).25. Berners-Lee’s (1989) proposal for the hypertext transfer protocol (http). total knowledge collection and organization have motivated thinkers and scholars ´ since Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie in the eighteenth century. Wells (1938) called for the creation of a single. H. this ideal did not originate with digital technologies. artworks. Before World War I. enormous shared encyclopedia. From this longer perspective. for example. Bush. an administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who became Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. now a touchstone for historians and cultural studies of the Web. in the sense of the lost library of Alexandria. Vannevar Bush. Paul Otlet developed the Universal Decimal Classification and founded the Palais Mondial (later. What distinguishes a Wikipedia from a Mundaneum.224. or ‘world brain’. the Mundaneum) in Belgium. which was built to hold all the knowledge of the ancient world. believed that scientific and technical progress was being stymied by the growing tide of unrelated and unsynthesized research publications. as well as the necessity of creating systems that effectively make ‘all the knowledge in the world’ (in Otlet’s phrase) accessible and navigable. comprehensive collections of authoritative knowledge would be necessary to make that knowledge more accessible to anyone who might use it. plans and diagrams. which is widely credited as the cornerstone of the World Wide Web. and similar Downloaded by [188. similar visions of universal. bookmarking. Where Otlet. The first is their Alexandrian ambitions.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 631 Commons knowledge projects have several important characteristics that distinguish them as forms of collaboration and knowledge-sharing. where he and other ‘documentalists’ envisioned that all the world’s documents – including models. to overcome the provincialism and disciplinary blinkers of traditional academic scholarship and learning. In the 1930s.

and comment on. folksonomic modes of knowledge organization that shift and evolve along with users’ interests. adaptable. or novel approaches to problems. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY tools have enabled the generation of dynamic. There is no standardized ‘controlled vocabulary’ that users must consult to decide how to tag or categorize the materials they post or how to link materials to other works. defined as a formal classification system for organizing items into specific. Taxonomies are generated by experts using thesauri of specialized terms to label and organize items in a collection. mutually exclusive categories or taxa. has recently become a focal point for debate among critics who fear that such ‘filter bubbles’ are segregating people into ever narrower knowledge enclaves with little opportunity to interact across boundaries of culture. counter-intuitive. The main advantage of the folksonomic approach is an acute sensitivity to changing ideas and the cultural contexts of users. are organized according to the users’ own shifting perceptions of the information they contribute. include a tendency to idiosyncrasy: by using their own natural language (as they might do in a Google search. in ways that may be more faithful to the social and cultural worlds they inhabit. or interest (Pariser 2011). and open to creative. The disadvantages. which provide secure Downloaded by [188.224. Similar practices and attitudes have transferred readily into projects involving the generation and circulation of online content (Lunenfeld 2011). so that information resources can be highly personalized. in favor of more ‘grass-roots’ or egalitarian participation by experts and amateurs alike. The third defining characteristic of commons knowledge can be seen as what happens when the Alexandrian impulse intersects with folksonomic modes of knowledge generation and organization: a distrust of knowledge authorities and institutions. users may not find important materials that might be relevant to their interests – indeed. in particular. Projects such as Wikipedia. and retrievals. This anti-authoritarian tendency has strong parallels in the early. a striking recent example is provided by Wikileaks and similar sites. principally as a means to gather and exploit highly targeted marketing information about individuals’ tastes and interests. they may not even be aware of them. The growing reliance on systems that tailor or customize what users are able to seek and find online.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . for example) rather than the authoritative specialist terms for certain topics. demographics. Otlet’s Universal Decimal Classification system and the Dewey Decimal Classification system on which it was based are classic examples of expert-driven taxonomies.25. interactions. collect. Turner 2006).632 INFORMATION. searches. however. Folksonomic systems allow users to frame questions and interests in their own language. as well as other user-generated resources such as Flickr and Twitter. these standardized labels and categories are called metadata. their deliberately open architectures that allowed users to tinker with and modify them according to their particular needs or desires (Nissenbaum 2004. libertarian ‘hacker culture’ whose members designed some of the key features of networked computing and telecommunications. bottom-up. The neologism ‘folksonomy’ is a play on ‘taxonomy’. however.

or qualifications in themselves (Fallis 2008. tools and systems have become increasingly enclosed and walled. aspects of new media infrastructure: the practices in which people engage to interact and share information and meaning. and the social arrangements or institutional forms that develop out of and around these practices and tools. Some critics have accused Wikipedians and other ‘crowdsourcing’ advocates of anti-intellectualism and alienating the very experts who might enrich their projects (e.224.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 633 Downloaded by [188. The perspectives and passionate commitment of amateur enthusiasts. stale. new media practices have become more relational. and artifacts that people create and use in order to do so. again aligning with the practices. bring new vitality to traditional fields that have erected high professional barriers to entry and thus have become entrenched.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 ‘drop boxes’ where anonymous contributors can submit materials that expose institutional hypocrisy or malfeasance. and more concerned with reinforcing status distinctions and reward systems than with new ideas and debates. I have suggested that both the recent history of new media and the future research agenda for new media studies can be framed in terms of three articulated. capturing the efforts of highly talented contributors for free or a fraction of what their labor is worth (Terranova 2000. advocates say. but ‘credentialism’ and deference to institutions. many established disciplines have a long history of amateur scholarship and scientific discovery (Dyson 2002. what participants object to is not expertise per se. Together. Benkler 2007. that experts are being deliberately excluded or discouraged from participation (Sanger 2009). Network literacies and pedagogies that will allow individuals to be full and effective participants in society. Others allege that amateur and volunteer participation is fundamentally exploitative. and mutually shaping. Duguid 2006). these features have created a climate that is widely regarded as the new normal for new media in the early twenty-first century.g. Over the last decade. however. In fact. and institutions and authorities have redefined online communication as a ‘mean world’ that requires new regimes of stabilization and control. Tapscott & Williams 2008). Other observers. There is little evidence.25. Lievrouw 2010). The proliferation of dead media may provoke even greater efforts to develop systems for total surveillance and information capture. Lovink & Rossiter 2007). economy. Given this climate. professional titles and privileges. the tools. or . I have also proposed three possible problem areas or directions for new media research in the near future. devices. and social arrangements of infrastructure.. and politics must be developed and implemented. Shirky 2008). see the move towards more participatory forms of knowledge production and circulation as a positive development (Surowiecki 2004. advocates say. on the one hand. The next decade in Internet time In this paper. tools. culture.

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CA 90095-1520.638 INFORMATION. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY the Department of Communication in the School of Communication. Box 951520. Los Angeles. and Library Studies (SCILS) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Information. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Amsterdam’s School of Communication Research (ASCoR) in the Netherlands and visiting professor at the ICT & Society Center at the University of Salzburg. USA. [email: llievrou@ucla.224.25.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Address: Department of Information Studies. Los Angeles. 216 GSE&IS Building. NJ. and in the Department of Telecommunication and Film at the University of Alabama. Austria. University of California.edu] Downloaded by [188.

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