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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.

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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

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

Indeed. intimacy. geographic. Friendster. while ICTs and the Internet are now widely credited in popular culture as sites for greater sociality and participation across traditional social.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . These systems and studies provided the foundation for today’s research field of computer-mediated communication.618 INFORMATION. it has been a period of ‘normalization’. domestication (Haddon 2006. bullying and abuse.0’ has become shorthand for the clear dividing lines between today’s ‘social’ Internet and the presumably more static. and even banalization (Lievrouw 2004) as new media technologies have become more routine. and a host of other aspects of interpersonal communication in the online context. and less interactive ‘Web 1. However. the distinction is not that simple or merely a consequence of the introduction of social network platforms such as MySpace. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY them. before graphical user interfaces were generally available. 1979. personal disclosure. identity and self-representation. relational nature of mediated communication online. Silverstone 2006). 1976.0’ that preceded it. The term ‘Web 2.25. Since the early 2000s. Facebook. they are also blamed for an unprecedented range of personal risks and harms arising from online interaction. and integrated into everyday life. Nonetheless. Email was the Internet’s first. In many respects. associated with a growing sense of sociality and embeddedness within social and technical networks (what Rheingold (2010) has called ‘net awareness’). 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 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.224. Johansen et al. By the late 1970s. Downloaded by [188. 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. unqualified (and unexpected) ‘killer app’ (Newell & Sproull 1982). taken for granted. complex computer-supported conferencing and group decisionsupport systems were already in place in many large organizations. three main features corresponding to the practices. trust. and Google+. the newer systems have accelerated or reinforced the sense that relationships and interactions are central to the experience of using and engaging with media. countless studies have examined changing notions of friendship. documentary. and a growing research literature was already examining interpersonal and small group communication processes online (Short et al. Nonetheless. In particular. Usenet groups and ‘multi-user dungeons’ for gamers flourished in the 1980s. Hiltz & Turoff 1993 [1978]). tools. and cultural boundaries. Interpersonal interaction and small group/organizational communication processes have been a major part of networked computing from the earliest days of the ARPANET.

. culturally familiar. extensive digital networks. diverse populations.0 offers change. and searchers routinely share results with others they know having similar interests or needs. the new opportunities for communication and information-sharing have contributed to a parallel sense of risk.0 offers one-way information flows and a single option presented as ‘choice’ .25. pressures to impose restrictions on user activities. Search and selectivity (of content.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 619 This sense of the greater opportunities and benefits of online interaction. .224. and investment in computational capacity and data storage on an unprecedented scale. for me.0 would open things up. tastes. Tools: the enclosed Internet There is little question that new media technologies have become more accessible and adaptable across geographic space. especially since the introduction of browser and search technologies in the early 1990s and the build-out of mobile networks in the 2000s.0 would nail them down. and danger among many users. diversity of viewpoints.0 demands openness. Ironically. and cultural settings. were likely to prompt a backlash. . interpretation of the Internet ‘versions 1. instability. At the same time. perhaps. offensive. including new horizons for interpersonal interaction. pp. .0 and 2. Version 1. . Version 1. paired with a growing sense of risk associated with new forms and venues for interpersonal communication. the lesser option . Version 2.0 is.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Version 2. Version 2. At the same time. In part. favorable economic policies and regulatory schemes have promoted investment in wireless communication networks and services and a shift away from the older. (Meikle 2002.0 offers more of the same. safe. and marketoriented communication and media landscape. 12 – 13) The relational quality of online communication has had other important effects as well. and insightful. . 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. Version 1.0’ suggested by Graham Meikle in 2002. this has been due to the distribution of relatively inexpensive and powerful mobile devices. applications. unfamiliar. and beliefs. underlies a different. more . debate. As he observed: Downloaded by [188. Meikle argued that – perhaps paradoxically – the openness. Although he proposed this characterization well before the age of Friendster and Myspace. Version 2. and ease of participation that were afforded even then by new media technologies. or harmful information that may be at odds with their existing perceptions. possibility. Search engines such as Google and Bing are the first stop for users looking for any type of information online. and the restoration of a more stable. searchers run the risk of encountering unexpected. from political debates to recipes to medical advice.

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

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

COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY New institutional forms. the UK’s Home Office signed on to the directive in February 2011 (http://www. Many of the directive’s provisions have been characterized as unclear or debatable: for example. securing and managing America’s borders. financial records.eweekeurope. vulnerability. Bush administration by the need to streamline the aggregation and sharing of different agencies’ vast stores of intelligence on citizens and foreign visitors. The directive also makes participation in denial-of-service actions of any sort illegal.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 .224. metes out stiffer criminal sanctions for ‘perpetrators of cyber attacks and the producers of related and malicious software’. and risk to individuals and the established order. however. security. by prohibiting the interception of any data deemed confidential. after the September 11 events. or shut down outright. 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. safeguarding and securing cyberspace. omnibus US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). email traffic.25. depending on local legal codes. For example. and relief A recent European Union directive on ‘cyber crime’ strengthens and expands the authority of the European Network and Information Security Agency. The institutional and legal changes are not restricted to the United States. On an even larger pressReleasesAction. based on the assumption that the Internet is a pivotal site of conflict.622 INFORMATION. outsize. deception. sabotaged. including telephone calls. 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). enforcing and administering immigration Originally justified by the George and some objections by conservatives in the coalition Downloaded by [188. it would outlaw the activities of whistleblowers as well as organizations such as Wikileaks. and political discourses to support and justify these apparatuses have arisen. and jurisdictions were quickly reorganized into the single. and ensuring resilience to disasters’ (http://www. 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. Despite these questions. Extremist or oppositional websites of all stripes are monitored. The agency is described as ‘the principal Federal agency charged with the vital missions of preventing terrorism and enhancing security. 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. missions. but in so doing could make unwitting owners of computers captured by botnets liable to prosecution. legal regimes.

personal expression or interaction online that might criticize their ruling the three developments outlined above – the personal-yetexposed quality of online communication. Authoritarian regimes are often criticized by more democratic states for restricting information-seeking. 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.25. http://www. http://www. Libya. However. ‘walled’ or enclosed technologies and ironically observed. in subsequent talks with industry representatives from Research in Motion (makers of the Blackberry Messenger service) iran-libya-and-china-uk-riots-are-time-taunt/41062/).uk/news/ukpolitics-12354931). criticism by China. However. Zimbabwe. allowing them to shut down social network services. and none-too-subtle. In response to the urban unrest. the firms assured the government that they would cooperate with law enforcement efforts to use their systems to track and identify offenders. British leaders suggested severe measures. policies.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 623 flawed-eu-cyber-crime-directive-20045.zdnet. Downloaded by [188. Facebook.techeye. and arrangements: articulations Considered together. British politicians recently found themselves on the receiving end of similar. tools. although as a writer for the news site TechEye.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Practices.21cb. including banning rioters from access to communications services.theatlanticwire. 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. shutting down social network sites in times of crisis. and the proliferation of institutions and policies designed to monitor. or leadership. ‘shutting down social networks is a bit like prosecuting the postman’ (http://news. . blogs/from-both-sides-10005031/government-climbs-down-on-social-networkblocking-10024206/?s_cid=452).224. the coalition government backed away from its proposals to implement ‘kill switches’.co. and Twitter. and even evicting families of participants in the disturbances from public housing and eliminating their benefits. 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.

and Amazon dominate their respective industries and markets. competitive rivalries among firms and trade blocs. organizations and institutions also respond and adapt to the available tools and devices and to people’s communication practices and norms. intellectual property claims. size. Apple. They may use loyalty programs and mobile phone apps that collect information about their shopping habits and product consumption in exchange for discounted merchandise. and political power of state security and law enforcement agencies have vastly expanded in parallel with the availability of sophisticated systems for surveillance. The relational Internet. reliable (less prone to breakdown). 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. secure (resistant to unwanted intrusion or hijacking). not only straightforward information-seeking or the consumption and appropriation of media products. respectively. It is useful to examine the articulations among the three aspects and to consider how they have shaped and even reinforced one another. or threatening). fraud. but many readily offer real-time information about their whereabouts. but potentially less innovative. responsibilities. interests. and activities that users find undesirable. in response to both users’ demands and institutional shifts toward greater oversight and control of online activities.224. criminality. contacts. and social arrangements. creative. in part. and open. aggregates. and cultural and ethical norms. In terms of tools.25. and so on.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . Facebook members may have qualms about how the site gathers. resources. predictable. Institutional authorities demand that systems comply with – or even automatically enforce – an expanding range of legal and commercial demands. as well as what people actually do with them. practices.624 INFORMATION. Users want applications and devices that are easy to use. offensive. and social preferences to Facebook and location-based services such as foursquare or Twitter. including privacy laws. and stabilize an inherently risky and dangerous online world – point to a future for mediated communication that is more reliable. data capture. and safe (able to block or flag people. 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. as pointed out previously. 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. has become a venue for interpersonal interaction and personal expression. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY control. national security and law enforcement directives. storage. stable. In terms of social arrangements. and safe. as Downloaded by [188. Each development corresponds to a different aspect of new media infrastructure: tools. and shares data about them. and analysis. The purview. By the same token. the enclosed Internet has evolved.

which hypothesizes that interpersonal communication and mass media echo and reinforce popular opinions. From the progressive-left or libertarian perspective. knowledge authorities. and a shift in one aspect can provoke corresponding shifts across the other two. global-scale ‘spiral of silence’. The three developments discussed in the next section – again. what problem areas or issues may lie ahead for new media research and scholarship? Three are suggested here. the state. . and security – and consequent moves towards ever more monitored. actions. the articulations among tools. control. The articulations among the three elements of infrastructure also create opportunities for pushback.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 625 Downloaded by [188. and social arrangements is always a matter of feed forward or path dependence with largely determined outcomes. enclosed. In summary. and social arrangements of new media infrastructure – suggest not only that contemporary communication technologies remain open to new or unexpected uses and forms. 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. sanctioning. filtered. for example. economic. gaps. Commons knowledge becomes a larger and more influential part of culture. anytime. reliability. practices.224.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 well as sharply increased citizen demands for public safety and protection from risk. and patterns of organization – may look like a vicious circle or downward feedback loop. The situation might also be likened to a kind of digital. and social arrangements are dynamic: each builds on and reinforces the others. The spiral of silence thus reinforces political stability and the status quo. 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. However. and political participation. and silencing unpopular or disruptive ideas. it is not necessarily the case that the articulation between tools. tools. Technologies. regulated. and exclusionary systems. on demand. practices. people. Noelle-Neumann’s (1984) theory of public opinion formation and mass communication. or spaces of action towards alternative outcomes.25. new ways ahead If new media and mediated communication have become more relational. New developments. and risk averse. and traditional institutional power. challenging expertise. This may or may not be a welcome prospect. standardized. preoccupations with risk. anywhere. Network literacies and pedagogies are prerequisites for effective social. and institutions are being driven toward a dystopian scenario where all forms of expressions and relationships are open to inspection by commercial interests. or even other individuals. safety. while marginalizing. they correspond to the practices.

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

For Rheingold (2010).THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 627 the twenty-first century’ (http://www.224. The second distinctive aspect of network literacy is suggested by Jenkins et al. 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. It might be argued – and Rheingold.25.posterous. critical consumption (what he calls ‘crap detection’).learningthroughdigitalmedia. and power. 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. 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. implied by Jenkins’s emphasis on judgment and Rheingold’s ‘crap detection’.’s ‘transparency problem’ and Rheingold’s notion of net awareness. structural equivalence. defined as the ability to imagine and visualize networks of social and Downloaded by [188.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . cooperation. a couple of factors set network literacy apart. 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. network externalities. Long-time Internet observer and pundit Rheingold (2010) has advocated a scheme for network literacy that encompasses five foundational competencies: attention. The ways that information is generated and organized are fundamentally introduction-learning-through-digital-media#more-362/). Such skills are especially important as traditional modes of knowledge Jenkins. and not just for young learners. and net awareness (see also http://howardrheingold. and so on – must be the core of teaching and learning about networks. online and off. Going one step further. organization and gatekeeping are being challenged or eroded by more participatory and inclusive peer-production practices online. weak ties. and so on (see the following section on commons knowledge). it also requires a sense of interpersonal and group relatedness. similar ideas underlie a number of related concepts. Lievrouw and Nguyen (2007) have proposed a related conceptual framework. Although these are two of the more widely known efforts currently. Rheingold insist that the core principles and techniques of social network analysis – power laws and the long tail phenomenon. deliberate misinformation. For example. spin. However. Similarly. which can also be prone to revisionism. the network imaginary. linkages. participation. The first is the crucial and growing need for people to be able to evaluate information sources and content. social intelligence has been proposed as the ability to seek and evaluate information in complex social and technological webs (Cronin & Davenport 1993). 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. incivility and bias. And unlike many other observers calling for a new network perspective in teaching and learning. cliques and subgroup structures. centrality/prominence.

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

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. the total capture and recall of a society’s (or even an individual’s) works and activities has never.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 629 and complete expunging of sensitive. excluded from the record. for example. should be viewed skeptically. Digital files and databases are notoriously fugitive and difficult to preserve in usable form for any extended period of time. digital culture is no exception. and is unlikely ever to be. loss-free digital capture of all knowledge and information. possible. has recently advocated revisions to the EU Data Protection Directive that would increase individuals’ control over personal information online. they are among the most profoundly fragmented. 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 overwhelming majority of human knowledge has been lost. 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. and divergent information. 2] has Downloaded by [188. modify. or personally risky information from the world’s databases. Formats. destroyed. and technological and legal safeguards against such ubiquitous data-gathering and third-party profiling are desirable and should be pursued. including a ‘right to be forgotten’ (O’Brien 2011). Historically. (As Rand researcher and preservationist Rothenberg [1999 (1995). the idea of total. The fact of cultural forgetting. However. clients.224. combined with rapidly accelerating cycles of technological obsolescence and turnover. or ‘perfect remembering’. organizations that collect information about customers. the European justice commissioner. p. patrons. There is little about culture today to suggest that these processes have changed in any fundamental way as a consequence of digital communication technologies. Conclusions are inevitably drawn on the basis of incomplete. In the United States. devices. sabotaged. suppressed. In the first place. especially in comparison to physical and analog formats. and storage systems) are notably short lived and incompatible across platforms and standards. contradictory. The basic tools of the Internet (digital recording and transmission technologies. formats. Viviane Reding. There are obvious risks associated with the pervasive capture of personal information. misleading. or patients insist that such data become their property and that the individuals whose data have been collected have no right to retrieve. pulled out of context. All cultures forget.25.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . and ephemeral forms of record-keeping ever devised. disorganized. or delete them. false. or never recorded at all. is the basis of what might be called dead media – possibly the greatest barrier to the dream (or nightmare) of perfect remembering.

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

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

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

many established disciplines have a long history of amateur scholarship and scientific discovery (Dyson 2002. The next decade in Internet time In this paper.g. Lovink & Rossiter 2007). advocates say. Other observers. Benkler 2007.224. that experts are being deliberately excluded or discouraged from participation (Sanger 2009). 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. I have also proposed three possible problem areas or directions for new media research in the near future. but ‘credentialism’ and deference to institutions. advocates say. and artifacts that people create and use in order to do so. There is little evidence. these features have created a climate that is widely regarded as the new normal for new media in the early twenty-first century. see the move towards more participatory forms of knowledge production and circulation as a positive development (Surowiecki 2004. tools and systems have become increasingly enclosed and walled. Network literacies and pedagogies that will allow individuals to be full and effective participants in society. Duguid 2006). and more concerned with reinforcing status distinctions and reward systems than with new ideas and debates. however. and social arrangements of infrastructure. and institutions and authorities have redefined online communication as a ‘mean world’ that requires new regimes of stabilization and control.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 ‘drop boxes’ where anonymous contributors can submit materials that expose institutional hypocrisy or malfeasance. 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. Lievrouw 2010). capturing the efforts of highly talented contributors for free or a fraction of what their labor is worth (Terranova 2000. or . and politics must be developed and implemented. again aligning with the practices. Over the last decade. The proliferation of dead media may provoke even greater efforts to develop systems for total surveillance and information capture.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 633 Downloaded by [188. bring new vitality to traditional fields that have erected high professional barriers to entry and thus have become entrenched. or qualifications in themselves (Fallis 2008.25. devices. stale. Shirky 2008). what participants object to is not expertise per se. tools. economy. Others allege that amateur and volunteer participation is fundamentally exploitative. The perspectives and passionate commitment of amateur enthusiasts. culture. and mutually shaping. Together. In fact. aspects of new media infrastructure: the practices in which people engage to interact and share information and meaning. professional titles and privileges. the tools. Tapscott & Williams 2008). on the one hand. new media practices have become more relational. Given this climate.

Berkeley Technology Law Journal. V. [Online] Available at: http://www. (1993) ‘Social intelligence’. 28. The task for new media studies in the next decade in Internet time will be to bring these elements together in coherent. & Davenport. New Haven. and how they organize their communicative relationships and systems will continue to be elements in a dynamic. pp. [Online] Available at: (30 March 2012). pp.html). Y. pp. Cronin. CT and London.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 offer a welcome haven from pervasive observation and http://www.theatlantic. Annual Review of Information Science & Technology. 3–44. and emergent it seems certain that the linkages among practices. . what devices they use. japanese-soldier-discovered-in-software-license-agreement/). 101 – 108. expertise.adlerbooks. T. J. (1989) ‘Information management: a proposal’. E. for example. vol.html). If Book Publishers Used License Agreements by Washington. However. 575–617. How people communicate. 18. with whom. innovative accounts of the ways that communication technology and society constitute one another. (2003) ‘DRM and privacy’. E. (2007) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.224. tools. whether these particular problems and questions. Mayer-Schonberger discussing his book Delete: The ¨ Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (2009) at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The on the other hand. B. See. enabling a ‘right to be forgotten’. DC publisher Bill Adler (http://www.w3. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY Downloaded by [188. and ‘Japanese soldier found hiding in software license agreement’ on the satirical website NewsBiscuit (http://www. Notes 1 Fine parodies of licensing agreements include those by the collective Illegal Art (http://www. or watch?v=XwxVA0UMwLY. (1945) ‘As we may think’. Berners-Lee.html (15 November 2011) Bush. Cohen.newsbiscuit. emerge as important streams of new media studies in the future or not. Commons knowledge projects may challenge and even reconfigure the foundations of institutional authority. Yale University Press. 2 References Benkler.25. and legitimacy.illegal-art. vol.634 INFORMATION. and social arrangements will continue to be in flux and subject to persistent tensions and interplay.

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224. Signorielli & M. Prof. Wells.) (2007) Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow. New York. London. 85–106. eds T. Berkeley. eds N. CA.html (15 November 2011). New York. London New York. the Whole Earth Network. B. no. (2008) ‘The web time forgot’. pp. G. Chicago. Silverstone. University of Chicago Press. (2006) ‘Domesticating domestication: reflections on the life of a concept’. Williams. (2011) Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency. (2006) From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand. New Haven. H. Morgan. Hartmann. Newbury Park. pp. World Brain. A. [Online] Available at: http://www. and the Rise of Digital Utopianism.25.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 Short.THE NEXT DECADE IN INTERNET TIME 637 Downloaded by [188. pp. Previously. in The Domestication of Media and Technology. E. M. CT. 229–248. Portfolio. F. J. (1990) ‘Television’s mean and dangerous world: a continuation of the cultural indicators perspective’. J. New York. (ed. she has held faculty appointments in . Yale University Press. vol. expanded edn. J. CA. Tapscott. Sage. Vesna. in Cultivation Analysis: New Directions in Media Effects Research. Wiley. V. Turner. 2011) explores the ways that artists and activists use new media technologies to challenge mainstream culture. & Williams. Counterpoint. Y. Along with Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics. 2006). Terranova.. politics. Doubleday. Doubleday. Wright. Punie & K. Zittrain. Maidenhead. Open University Press. J. Lievrouw is a Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California. Surowiecki. IL. 18. 17 June. D. Her most recent book Alternative and Activist New Media (Polity. Ward. A. 83 – 88. R. New York Times. pp. & Christie. N. M. L. 33–58. (2008) Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. (1938) ‘World brain: the idea of a permanent world encyclopedia’. 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. Social Text. 63. 2. Signorielli. and society. T. (2000) ‘Free labor: producing culture for the digital economy’. 2009) and of The Handbook of New Media (updated student Berker. Works in progress include Media and Meaning: Communication Technology and Society (Oxford University Press) and Foundations of Media and Communication Theory (Blackwell). Los Angeles. (2004) The Wisdom of Crowds. (1976) The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. Minneapolis.nytimes. Lievrouw received a PhD in communication theory and research in 1986 from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Sifry. Sage. D. she is also the co-editor of the four-volume Sage Benchmarks in Communication: New Media (Sage. Leah A. (2008) The Future of the Internet – and How to Stop It. University of Minnesota Press.

University of California. Austria. Address: Department of Information Studies.25. USA. COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY the Department of Communication in the School of Communication. CA 90095-1520.109] at 13:23 12 December 2012 . 216 GSE&IS] Downloaded by [188. Box 951520.638 INFORMATION. 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. [email: llievrou@ucla. and in the Department of Telecommunication and Film at the University of Alabama. Los Angeles. NJ. and Library Studies (SCILS) at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Los Angeles.

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