Conference: Theory, Context and the Internet

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Published on: 16/02/2012

In a world of virtual communication and social media, it can be argued that we face challenges regarding the theorization and contextualisation of Internet mediated activity. The desire to generate new knowledge coupled with the hyperbole and ‘upgrade me’ mindset that so often surrounds the Internet means that often new theoretical approaches are introduced as a way to understand current uses and meanings where perhaps they are not necessary. In terms of context, contemporary experiences can sometimes be decoupled from prior experiences, resulting in rhetoric of ‘the new’. The outcome of this can be an emphasis on discontinuity for example as demonstrated in discourses regarding the pre-Web 2.0 era. Web 2.0 is conceptualised as new, contextualised in a simplistic fashion and claims are made regarding the necessity of new theory to understand such a ‘revolutionary new world’. While clearly, societal change and socio-technical change are occurring variously across the planet (although the two may not necessarily be linked) continuity is also present – empirically and theoretically. There is therefore, a need to consider the history of Internet mediated arrangements and, to continue an interrogation of the abilities of extant theory to respond to and facilitate understandings of contemporary situations.

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