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Internet Studies

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The Internet, Society, and Participation

Just as education has promoted democracy and economic growth, the Internet has the potential to benefit society as a whole. Digital citizenship, or the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion. But statistics show that significant segments of the population are still excluded from digital citizenship.

Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet

Children and teens today have integrated digital culture seamlessly into their lives. For most, using the Internet, playing videogames, downloading music onto an iPod, or multitasking with a cell phone is no more complicated than setting the toaster oven to "bake" or turning on the TV. In Generation Digital, media expert and activist Kathryn C. Montgomery examines the ways in which the new media landscape is changing the nature of childhood and adolescence and analyzes recent political debates that have shaped both policy and practice in digital culture.

Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture

While the public and the media have been distracted by the story of Napster, warnings about the evils of "piracy," and lawsuits by the recording and film industries, the enforcement of copyright law in the digital world has quietly shifted from regulating copying to regulating the design of technology.

In The Internet Imaginaire, sociologist Patrice Flichy examines the collective vision that shaped the emergence of the Internet—the social imagination that envisioned a technological utopia in the birth of a new technology. By examining in detail the discourses surrounding the development of the Internet in the United States in the 1990s (and considering them an integral part of that development), Flichy shows how an entire society began a new technological era.

Digital technology has changed the way we interact with everything from the games we play to the tools we use at work. Designers of digital technology products no longer regard their job as designing a physical object—beautiful or utilitarian—but as designing our interactions with it. In Designing Interactions, award-winning designer Bill Moggridge introduces us to forty influential designers who have shaped our interaction with technology.

The use of the Web in U.S. political campaigns has developed dramatically over the course of the last several election seasons. In Web Campaigning, Kirsten Foot and Steven Schneider examine the evolution of campaigns' Web practices, based on hundreds of campaign Web sites produced by a range of political actors during the U.S. elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004.

Marketing Discrimination in the Digital Age

We have all been to Web sites that welcome us by name, offering us discounts, deals, or special access to content. For the most part, it feels good to be wanted—to be valued as a customer. But if we thought about it, we might realize that we've paid for this special status by turning over personal information to a company's database. And we might wonder whether other customers get the same deals we get, or something even better. We might even feel stirrings of resentment toward customers more valued than we are.

Theories of Internet Spectatorship

Internet and computer users are often represented onscreen as active and empowered—as in AOL's striding yellow figure and the interface hand that appears to manipulate software and hypertext links. In The Body and the Screen Michele White suggests that users can more properly be understood as spectators rendered and regulated by technologies and representations, for whom looking and the mediation of the screen are significant aspects of engagement.

How Control Exists after Decentralization

Is the Internet a vast arena of unrestricted communication and freely exchanged information or a regulated, highly structured virtual bureaucracy? In Protocol, Alexander Galloway argues that the founding principle of the Net is control, not freedom, and that the controlling power lies in the technical protocols that make network connections (and disconnections) possible. He does this by treating the computer as a textual medium that is based on a technological language, code.

Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics

How has the Internet, a medium that thrives on control, been accepted as a medium of freedom? Why is freedom increasingly indistinguishable from paranoid control? In Control and Freedom, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun explores the current political and technological coupling of freedom with control by tracing the emergence of the Internet as a mass medium. The parallel (and paranoid) myths of the Internet as total freedom/total control, she says, stem from our reduction of political problems into technological ones.

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