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Information, Communication & Society
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Leah A. Lievrouw
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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:

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

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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)

‘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

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

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

unfamiliar. perhaps.0 offers more of the same. including new horizons for interpersonal interaction. Although he proposed this characterization well before the age of Friendster and Myspace. offensive. for me. (Meikle 2002. and the restoration of a more stable. and searchers routinely share results with others they know having similar interests or needs. Tools: the enclosed Internet There is little question that new media technologies have become more accessible and adaptable across geographic space. from political debates to recipes to medical advice. instability. underlies a different. . At the same time. Version 2. Meikle argued that – perhaps paradoxically – the openness.0 offers change. 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. . were likely to prompt a backlash. debate.0 is. and marketoriented communication and media landscape. . Version 1.0 would nail them down. At the same time. favorable economic policies and regulatory schemes have promoted investment in wireless communication networks and services and a shift away from the older. Version 1.0’ suggested by Graham Meikle in 2002. Version 1. safe. pp.0 would open things up. Search and selectivity (of content.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Version 2. interpretation of the Internet ‘versions 1. In part. pressures to impose restrictions on user activities. applications.0 and 2. . Ironically. and cultural settings.0 demands openness. paired with a growing sense of risk associated with new forms and venues for interpersonal communication. and danger among many users. the lesser option . diverse populations. or harmful information that may be at odds with their existing perceptions.224. Search engines such as Google and Bing are the first stop for users looking for any type of information online.0 offers one-way information flows and a single option presented as ‘choice’ . especially since the introduction of browser and search technologies in the early 1990s and the build-out of mobile networks in the 2000s. 12 – 13) The relational quality of online communication has had other important effects as well. culturally familiar. and beliefs.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 619 This sense of the greater opportunities and benefits of online interaction. diversity of viewpoints. As he observed: Downloaded by [188. tastes. . and ease of participation that were afforded even then by new media technologies.25. and investment in computational capacity and data storage on an unprecedented scale. Version 2. and insightful. extensive digital networks. possibility. . the new opportunities for communication and information-sharing have contributed to a parallel sense of risk. searchers run the risk of encountering unexpected. more . Version 2. this has been due to the distribution of relatively inexpensive and powerful mobile devices.

out-of-proportion) lawsuits. digital rights management. programs. or moral panic. Proprietary apps. but also to the perpetuation and reinforcement of enduring social. family. work. the mobilization against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. Incomprehensible licensing agreements1 and ‘pay walls’ restrict information access and circulation in seemingly arbitrary and illogical ways. critics charge that the choices are more illusory than real. leisure. and culture. Established industries and markets have been disrupted and new generations of incumbent firms have emerged. where off-the-shelf products. or non-commercial uses of copyrighted material are met with swift. sampled. 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). blackballing. interests. Personalized communication technologies and information resources are ever more integrated into political processes and economic activity. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY expensive. 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). punish churn (users switching from one service to another) and lock in reliable revenue streams (Zittrain 2008). some charge.. fair-use. and the uncanny sense of immediacy and cohesion among family and friends on Facebook). ‘walled gardens’ of incompatible technical standards and platforms. especially in the areas of media content and entertainment.620 INFORMATION. Downloaded by [188. or the so-called Arab spring. Each adaptation seems to spark new rounds of admiration and optimism. and anti-circumvention technologies not only prevent unsanctioned uses and access but actually conceal such choices from users (Cohen 2003). and political divides. on the one hand (e. a strong do-it-yourself user culture of remixing and hacking has flourished.224. and interminable contracts with prohibitive penalties for service termination. 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. Deliberate attempts to skirt intellectual property claims as well as the most innocuous personal. and threats of criminal prosecution. and cultural works are all commonly tinkered with. inequities.25. The consequences are now familiar. Besieged authorities and law enforcement seek ‘kill switches’ to shut down Internet access for political activists or unauthorized file sharers (Morozov 2011). Particularly in the United States. Media. and more regulated installed base of wire-line telephones and broadcasting. economic. and their allies in government and law enforcement have responded to DIY (do it yourself) and remix culture with a variety of tactics. Sophisticated devices and services have been appropriated and domesticated (some might say have intruded) into everyday routines of home. leading to new forms of mobilization and collective action. and reconfigured to suit local or specialized needs. severe (and. and divisions. However. and tastes. To instill respect for intellectual property values.g. hardware and software firms. At the same time.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 .

despite (or perhaps to spite) the technological and legal barriers. the subsequent United States-led ‘war on terror’ and insurgencies and assaults against Western states and interests. scaled up. and workarounds persist in the face of every effort to lock down. adaptations.25. The attacks of September 11. Communication and information networks. and their colleagues developed cultivation theory. and assessment of information about individuals and their activities have become the raison d’etre for social network sites. have been reframed as sites of struggle and danger in geopolitical. or have encouraged self-censorship. 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. economic. curtail. health care. ˆ online publishing and media. collection. observable) versus illegitimate (unpaid. pinpoint reach. and workplace/employee monitoring systems. communication scholars George Gerbner. the capture.224. and sharing them with the larger online world. Data gathering and data classification have become an integral (some say indispensable) part of warfare. 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. Critic Peter Lunenfeld (2011) describes the current cultural arena as a ‘secret war between downloading and uploading’. Nancy Signorielli. search engines. the rise of grass-roots democracy/independence movements and political oppositions in many developing regions of the world. 1986. or prosecute. The third. travel. and possibly most significant. and virtually every other aspect of contemporary life. and fears about criminal networks coordinating and conducting their activities online have dominated media coverage of new media and transfixed the popular imagination. Signorielli 1990). and particularly the Internet.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 621 Downloaded by [188. Yet hackability. finance. policing. 2001. In commerce and politics. influence on perceptions and uses of the Internet and new media over the last decade resembles the mean world syndrome. and military conflicts. unobservable) communication. education. . such efforts have advanced private-sector and law enforcement aims of defining what counts as legitimate (paid. Social arrangements: the ‘mean world’ Internet In the 1980s. including a concept they called the ‘mean world syndrome’. These events are now routinely invoked by authorities to justify the expansion of private and state surveillance/security apparatuses with global scale and personal.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.

109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . sabotaged.25. The directive also makes participation in denial-of-service actions of any sort illegal. however. but in so doing could make unwitting owners of computers captured by botnets liable to prosecution. The agency is described as ‘the principal Federal agency charged with the vital missions of preventing terrorism and enhancing security. and relief agencies. 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). and ensuring resilience to disasters’ (http://www. including telephone calls. The institutional and legal changes are not restricted to the United States. legal outsize. Bush administration by the need to streamline the aggregation and sharing of different agencies’ vast stores of intelligence on citizens and foreign visitors.622 INFORMATION. vulnerability. the UK’s Home Office signed on to the directive in February 2011 (http://www.224. by prohibiting the interception of any data deemed confidential. omnibus US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).eweekeurope. email Downloaded by [188.whitehouse. or shut down outright. Extremist or oppositional websites of all stripes are monitored. 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. enforcing and administering immigration pressReleasesAction. and jurisdictions were quickly reorganized into the single. and political discourses to support and justify these apparatuses have arisen. and risk to individuals and the established order. depending on local legal codes. safeguarding and securing cyberspace. A recent European Union directive on ‘cyber crime’ strengthens and expands the authority of the European Network and Information Security Many of the directive’s provisions have been characterized as unclear or debatable: for example. On an even larger scale. 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. provisions of the first and second US Patriot Acts allowed government authorities unprecedented access to individuals’ electronic communications without search warrants. Originally justified by the George W. securing and managing America’s borders. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY New institutional forms. metes out stiffer criminal sanctions for ‘perpetrators of cyber attacks and the producers of related and malicious software’. after the September 11 events. it would outlaw the activities of whistleblowers as well as organizations such as Wikileaks. a congeries of US federal law enforcement. and some objections by conservatives in the coalition government. missions. based on the assumption that the Internet is a pivotal site of conflict. For example. deception. security. Despite these financial records.

However. However. in subsequent talks with industry representatives from Research in Motion (makers of the Blackberry Messenger service). criticism by tools.theatlanticwire. http://www. Libya.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 623 flawed-eu-cyber-crime-directive-20045. the firms assured the government that they would cooperate with law enforcement efforts to use their systems to track and identify offenders. ‘shutting down social networks is a bit like prosecuting the postman’ ( iran-libya-and-china-uk-riots-are-time-taunt/41062/).21cb. In response to the urban unrest. Zimbabwe.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Practices.25. the three developments outlined above – the personal-yetexposed quality of online and arrangements: articulations Considered together. ironically observed. allowing them to shut down social network services. 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. British leaders suggested severe measures. personal expression or interaction online that might criticize their ruling parties. or leadership. British politicians recently found themselves on the receiving end of similar. although as a writer for the news site TechEye. the coalition government backed away from its proposals to implement ‘kill switches’. ‘walled’ or enclosed technologies and standards. Facebook. and the proliferation of institutions and policies designed to monitor. and even evicting families of participants in the disturbances from public housing and eliminating their benefits. 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. policies. and Twitter. and none-too-subtle. Authoritarian regimes are often criticized by more democratic states for restricting information-seeking. . including banning rioters from access to communications services. shutting down social network sites in times of Downloaded by [ blogs/from-both-sides-10005031/government-climbs-down-on-social-networkblocking-10024206/?s_cid=452). 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.zdnet.

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

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

In his introduction to the project. and an ethics challenge (the breakdown of traditional professional training and norms). argued that ‘new media literacies’ comprise digital literacies plus media literacies. engineering/programming. and content materials and made them available in both print and online forms. where communication networks are conceived as inextricably social and technological. multitasking. The idea of network literacy (or literacies. the Learning Through Digital Media project at the New School in New York City has collected essays. supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative. and knowledge). and negotiation. and the crafting of messages that is more typically associated with traditional media production. (2009) at the University of Southern California’s New Media Literacies Project. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Practices: network literacies It is one thing to say that communication online has become more relational. socialized. collective intelligence. Jenkins et al. 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.626 INFORMATION. teaching tools. In practical terms. networking. judgment. 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. and expressive. a transparency problem (ability to recognize how media shape people’s perceptions of the world). articulated repertoire of communicative competencies that mixes interpersonal and group process fluency. For example. transmedia navigation. but suggested that technological facility is dependent on an even more important set of learned attitudes: ‘Openness. distributed cognition. and an orientation toward tinkering. appropriation. skills. flexibility. demonstrations. playfulness. As with other forms of literacies.224. persistence. 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. pattern recognition.25. simulation. 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’. more accurately) and related concepts has attracted intense interest recently among researchers and educators. They included 11 core skills as new media literacies: play. proficiency in the network context does not necessarily. and making linkages and correspondences. or entirely. 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. design. and the arts. however. an aptitude for organizing. As an ensemble. Similarly. ‘come naturally’ – it must be taught and learned.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . performance. Thus. we might think of this repertoire of competencies as network literacy. this requires that individuals master an emergent. experiences.

The ways that information is generated and organized are fundamentally ontological. 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. For Rheingold (2010). cliques and subgroup structures. and so on – must be the core of teaching and learning about networks. Similarly.224. However.’s ‘transparency problem’ and Rheingold’s notion of net awareness. incivility and bias. and power. online and off. and net awareness (see also http://howardrheingold. the network imaginary.learningthroughdigitalmedia. The first is the crucial and growing need for people to be able to evaluate information sources and content. structural equivalence. 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. linkages. introduction-learning-through-digital-media#more-362/). Lievrouw and Nguyen (2007) have proposed a related conceptual framework. weak ties. centrality/prominence. Long-time Internet observer and pundit Rheingold (2010) has advocated a scheme for network literacy that encompasses five foundational competencies: attention. 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. defined as the ability to imagine and visualize networks of social and Downloaded by [188. 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. critical consumption (what he calls ‘crap detection’). social intelligence has been proposed as the ability to seek and evaluate information in complex social and technological webs (Cronin & Davenport 1993). a couple of factors set network literacy apart. It might be argued – and Rheingold. similar ideas underlie a number of related concepts. deliberate misinformation. and not just for young learners. 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. And unlike many other observers calling for a new network perspective in teaching and learning.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 627 the twenty-first century’ (http://www. participation. organization and gatekeeping are being challenged or eroded by more participatory and inclusive peer-production practices online.posterous. spin.25. implied by Jenkins’s emphasis on judgment and Rheingold’s ‘crap detection’. Going one step further. which can also be prone to revisionism. For example. Such skills are especially important as traditional modes of knowledge generation. The second distinctive aspect of network literacy is suggested by Jenkins et al. Rheingold insist that the core principles and techniques of social network analysis – power laws and the long tail phenomenon.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . network externalities. and so on (see the following section on commons knowledge). it also requires a sense of interpersonal and group relatedness. cooperation. Although these are two of the more widely known efforts

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

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

expert-driven and institutionally supported modes of generating. 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). with no good prospects on the horizon. from participatory journalism (Deuze et al. deliberate falsification. and circulating knowledge. What. These have opened unprecedented opportunities for powerful new modes of knowledge production and collaboration. misattribution and misappropriation.25. Commons knowledge projects do not mobilize only the efforts of hundreds or even thousands of people. 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. We might consider the implications of dead media for cultural legacy. However. but have also drawn charges of amateurism. The third development with important implications for the direction of new media studies is a consequence of this increasingly collaborative. in addition. . to popular culture (Shirky 2008).g. and the enduring cultural fact of incomplete and forgotten information. incompetence. would it be desirable? These questions.) 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. inclusive. ‘old bit streams never die – they just become unreadable’. who make small.224. constitutes a ‘perfect’. original. granular contributions to very large enterprises that might otherwise be too complex or expensive to undertake. Wikileaks. the resources that are created often challenge or compete with more established. and more.. if anything. are usually framed in terms of loss and error. universal methods for the permanent preservation of digital records do not yet exist. to academic scholarship and science (Lievrouw 2010). Sifry 2011). and memory. to political activism and whistleblowing (e. authenticity. authoritative. digital preservation is a largely unsolved technical problem. Paradoxically.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 observed.630 INFORMATION. and who decides? Even if total capture of the cultural record were technically possible. 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. collective. compiling. 2007). and relatively gatekeeper-free arena for communication online. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Downloaded by [188.

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

The neologism ‘folksonomy’ is a play on ‘taxonomy’. bottom-up. as well as other user-generated resources such as Flickr and Twitter. mutually exclusive categories or taxa. defined as a formal classification system for organizing items into specific. folksonomic modes of knowledge organization that shift and evolve along with users’ interests. Otlet’s Universal Decimal Classification system and the Dewey Decimal Classification system on which it was based are classic examples of expert-driven taxonomies. 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. or novel approaches to problems. 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.25. Turner 2006). and open to creative. searches. include a tendency to idiosyncrasy: by using their own natural language (as they might do in a Google search.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Taxonomies are generated by experts using thesauri of specialized terms to label and organize items in a collection. their deliberately open architectures that allowed users to tinker with and modify them according to their particular needs or desires (Nissenbaum 2004. and retrievals. Projects such as Wikipedia. are organized according to the users’ own shifting perceptions of the information they contribute. This anti-authoritarian tendency has strong parallels in the early. so that information resources can be highly personalized. principally as a means to gather and exploit highly targeted marketing information about individuals’ tastes and interests. however. or interest (Pariser 2011). in favor of more ‘grass-roots’ or egalitarian participation by experts and amateurs alike. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY tools have enabled the generation of dynamic. and comment on. users may not find important materials that might be relevant to their interests – indeed.224. The disadvantages. a striking recent example is provided by Wikileaks and similar sites. in particular. The main advantage of the folksonomic approach is an acute sensitivity to changing ideas and the cultural contexts of users. interactions. however. collect. they may not even be aware of them. Similar practices and attitudes have transferred readily into projects involving the generation and circulation of online content (Lunenfeld 2011). counter-intuitive. adaptable. which provide secure Downloaded by [188. The growing reliance on systems that tailor or customize what users are able to seek and find online. libertarian ‘hacker culture’ whose members designed some of the key features of networked computing and telecommunications. for example) rather than the authoritative specialist terms for certain topics. demographics.632 INFORMATION. in ways that may be more faithful to the social and cultural worlds they inhabit. 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. Folksonomic systems allow users to frame questions and interests in their own language. these standardized labels and categories are called metadata.

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

html).html). (2003) ‘DRM and privacy’.com/booklicense. expertise. B. with whom. The task for new media studies in the next decade in Internet time will be to bring these elements together in coherent. and social arrangements will continue to be in flux and subject to persistent tensions and interplay.224.illegal-art. on the other hand. and legitimacy. New If Book Publishers Used License Agreements by Washington.html (15 November 2011) Bush. and emergent process. Annual Review of Information Science & Technology. [Online] Available at: http://www.adlerbooks. T. CT and London. for example. Berners-Lee. J. interdependent.theatlantic. See. [Online] Available at: http://www. (30 March 2012). and how they organize their communicative relationships and systems will continue to be elements in a dynamic. . 101 – 108. Y. How people communicate. (2007) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Cohen. 3–44. enabling a ‘right to be forgotten’. (1989) ‘Information management: a proposal’. it seems certain that the linkages among practices. pp. Commons knowledge projects may challenge and even reconfigure the foundations of institutional authority. emerge as important streams of new media studies in the future or watch?v=XwxVA0UMwLY. Berkeley Technology Law Journal. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Downloaded by [188. & Davenport. DC publisher Bill Adler (http://www. 28. V. innovative accounts of the ways that communication technology and society constitute one another. 2 References Benkler. 575–617. pp. vol. japanese-soldier-discovered-in-software-license-agreement/). and ‘Japanese soldier found hiding in software license agreement’ on the satirical website NewsBiscuit (http://www.25. 18.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 offer a welcome haven from pervasive observation and recording. what devices they use. Cronin. Notes 1 Fine parodies of licensing agreements include those by the collective Illegal Art (http://www.634 INFORMATION. or others. Yale University Press. tools. However. The Atlantic. whether these particular problems and questions. (1993) ‘Social intelligence’. E. E.w3. Mayer-Schonberger discussing his book Delete: The ¨ Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (2009) at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. (1945) ‘As we may think’. http://www.

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Previously. 2006). (2006) From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand. World Brain. Sifry. Leah A. politics. New York. Portfolio. (2000) ‘Free labor: producing culture for the digital economy’. (2008) Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. (2006) ‘Domesticating domestication: reflections on the life of a concept’. and society. CA. (1990) ‘Television’s mean and dangerous world: a continuation of the cultural indicators perspective’. (1938) ‘World brain: the idea of a permanent world encyclopedia’. Sage. Berkeley.224. expanded edn. London. she has held faculty appointments in . the Whole Earth Network. Punie & K. Silverstone. CT.) (2007) Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow. and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. 18. F. Wiley. Zittrain. Newbury Park. (2008) ‘The web time forgot’. eds T. Along with Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics. Williams. Her most recent book Alternative and Activist New Media (Polity. (2008) The Future of the Internet – and How to Stop It. Y. University of Minnesota Press. Turner. [Online] Available at: http://www. 17 June.nytimes. Signorielli & M. J. pp. G. Morgan. D. H. Counterpoint. 2011) explores the ways that artists and activists use new media technologies to challenge mainstream culture. pp. she is also the co-editor of the four-volume Sage Benchmarks in Communication: New Media (Sage. Terranova. V. vol. 229–248. University of Chicago Press. Wright. in The Domestication of Media and Technology. IL. B.html (15 November 2011). & Williams. Sage. New York. Signorielli. Prof. CA. Surowiecki. Doubleday. Chicago. (2004) The Wisdom of Crowds. L.. J. New York. 63. Works in progress include Media and Meaning: Communication Technology and Society (Oxford University Press) and Foundations of Media and Communication Theory (Blackwell). Lievrouw received a PhD in communication theory and research in 1986 from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. pp. Social Text. 83 – 88. 2. A. Hartmann. (2011) Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency. (1976) The Social Psychology of Telecommunications.25. Minneapolis. Doubleday. eds N. Open University Press. no. Berker. M. Wells. Tapscott. New York Times. T. E.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Short. A. in Cultivation Analysis: New Directions in Media Effects Research. Lievrouw is a Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California. Maidenhead. 85–106. J. New R. Yale University Press. M. London New York. Ward. N. Los Angeles. (ed. Vesna.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 637 Downloaded by [188. D. 33–58. & Christie. 2009) and of The Handbook of New Media (updated student edition. J. She also holds an MA in biomedical communications/instructional development from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. pp.

USA. 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. Los Angeles. Los Angeles. Austria.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 .25. Address: Department of Information Studies. Information. and in the Department of Telecommunication and Film at the University of Alabama. Box 951520.638 INFORMATION.] Downloaded by [188. University of California. [email: llievrou@ucla.224. CA 90095-1520. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY the Department of Communication in the School of Communication. and Library Studies (SCILS) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. 216 GSE&IS Building.