Rhinegold’s important work The Virtual Community anticipated the Internet’s “capacity to challenge the existing political hierarchy’s monopoly on powerful communications media, and perhaps thus revitalize citizen-based democracy” (Wilson 2002:451).
Howard Rhinegold‘s early utopian vision of the internet has been central to our society’s thinking about the internet – similar to Haraway’s leveling effect of cyborg subjectivity. Even without bringing in the digital divide question, do you see the internet and information technology in general as challenging the man? (The Virtual Community from Amazon; free web version of Virtual Community)
Ephemerality of practices/life on the internet – with the rapidity of technological change, people see the latest fad (the idea of memes had not yet entered mainstream consciousness, in terms of its use to internet sociality). This can be understood through the concept postmodernity and “time-space compression” (from David Harvey)
Media, Community, Identity, Communication/Practice
Community: “the distinction of real and imagined or virtual community is not a useful one, and that an anthropological approach is well suited to investigate the continuum of communities, identities, and networks that exist—from the most cohesive to the most diffuse—regardless of the ways in which community members interact” (Wilson 2002:456-457)
Methodological issues: how do we deal with ethical concerns when doing research online? (The concept of lurkers).
Coleman 2010 (Digital Media)
Cultural politics of digital media – identity, representation, imaginaries.
Who represents whom on the internet? Who speaks for whom? Who is an expert, when everyone has a platform. Wikipedia as the new battleground.
Vernacular cultures of digital media – what’s up with all these weird terms, LOL.
Rise of the open-source movement. Creation of new groups/identities.
Prosaics of digital media – how does digital media fit into other social practices (the broader context)
Studies examine how various places and spaces sustain the production and reach of virtual spaces and technologies: regions and cities such as Chennai …; spatially situated ritual events such as gamer and hacker conferences …; and places such as body shops, cyber cafes, and Internet centers (Coleman 2010:496)