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Tracing back communities

An analysis of Ars Electronica’s Digital Communities archive from an ANT perspective
26 luglio 2009 - Annalisa Pelizza

TRACING BACK COMMUNITIES
An analysis of Ars Electronica’s Digital
Communities archive from an ANT perspective

Contents
INTRODUCTION 1

CHAPTER 1 CYBERCULTURE(S) AT A CROSSROADS - 12
1.1 CONVERGING CULTURES - 12
1.1.1 AT THE BEGINNING THERE WAS THE WELL - 12
1.1.2 1980S’ INTERNET IMAGINAIRE AND THE ATTEMPTS TO CLASSIFY EARLY VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES - 24
1.1.2.1 Flichy’s classification of online communities- 29
1.1.3 THE NETWORK IS THE MESSAGE: NETWORKING AS A FORM OF ART AND THE MAILING LIST CULTURE OF THE 1990S - 32
1.1.4 MEDIACTIVISM AND THE EARLY WEB PLATFORMS FOR OPEN PUBLISHING - 38
1.2 FROM THE PRAIRIE TO THE BATTLEFIELD - 40
1.2.1 THE DOTCOM BURST AND THE CRISIS OF THE CREATIVES-INTERNET ENTREPRENEURS COALITION - 41
1.2.2 THE TERRITORIALIZATION OF THE NET - 45
1.2.3 A SECOND GENERATION OF WEB? WEB 2.0, THE RENAISSANCE OF COMMUNITY ON THE NET AND THE QUEST FOR VALUE CREATION - 48
1.3 IN SEARCH OF COMMUNITY 63
1.3.1 FROM GROUPS TO NETWORKS - 64
1.3.2 TOWARDS ORGANIZED NETWORKS - 72
1.4 THE TAKING OVER OF COMMUNITY - 78

CHAPTER 2 AN OPEN METHOD FOR FUZZY OBJECTS - 83
2.1 ASKING FAIR QUESTIONS. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES- 83
2.2 INTERROGATING FUZZY OBJECTS. A BOTTOM-UP EPISTEMOLOGY FOR EPHEMERAL ASSEMBLAGES - 86
2.2.1 ‘PLATONIC’ VS ‘WITTGENSTEINIAN’ METHODS OF CLASSIFICATION - 93
2.2.2 SELECTION OF THE SAMPLE. ARS ELECTRONICA’S DIGITAL COMMUNITIES COMPETITION AS SPACE OF CONTROVERSY - 97
2.3 TECHNIQUES OF DATA COLLECTION - 100
2.4 TECHNIQUES OF DATA ANALYSIS - 102
2.4.1 FROM THE MAIN OBJECTIVE TO ANALYTICAL TASKS - 103
2.4.2 CHOICE OF THE SOFTWARE - 105
2.5 TASK 1: PROFILING COMMUNITY- 108
2.6 TASK 2: EXTRACTING THEMES - 115
2.7 TASK 3: MAPPING THEORIES OF ACTION - 121

CHAPTER 3 ARS ELECTRONICA BETWEEN THE ‘INDUSTRIAL AGE’ AND THE ‘INFORMATION SOCIETY’ - 125
3.1 ARS ELECTRONICA AS A LEADING NETWORKED ORGANIZATION
3.1.1 LINZ’S IDENTITY FROM STEEL CAPITAL TO DIGITAL CULTURE DISTRICT- 126
3.1.2 ARS ELECTRONICA’S FOUR PILLARS- 132
3.2 THE PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA: FROM EARLY COMPUTER ANIMATION TO THE ‘DIGITAL COMMUNITIES’ CATEGORY - 139
3.2.1 THE ‘DIGITAL COMMUNITIES’ CATEGORY AS A FORUM FOR SOCIO-POLITICAL EMERGENCE - 144
3.2.1.1 The origins of the ‘Digital Community’ category - 146
3.2.1.2 From the submission process to the preliminary evaluation - 148
3.2.1.3 The jury process- 150

CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION - 155
4.1 THE REMAINS OF THE COMMUNITY - 155
4.1.1 AN EARLY DEFINITION FOR ONLINE COMMUNITY - 155
4.1.2 LOOKING AT THE MAP- 157
4.1.2.1 Relationships between Concepts - 161
4.1.3 BOOLEAN SEARCHES. GROUPS, NETWORKS OR BOTH? - 163
4.2 FROM CONCEPTS TO NARRATIVES - 165
4.2.1 DIGGING DEEP INTO CLUSTERS - 165
4.2.2 COMPARING NARRATIVES - 176
4.2.2.1 Social software as mediator or intermediary - 176
4.2.2.2 Different technologies for different territories - 179
4.2.2.3 Knowledge labour between sustainability and gift economy - 182
4.2.2.4 ‘Public media art’ as politics - 185
4.3 OBSERVING DIGITAL COMMUNITIES: A PROLIFERATION OF MEDIATORS - 188
4.3.1 TONGA.ONLINE. OR OF RIVERS, DAMS, ANTELOPE HORNS AND DIGITAL MUSIC - 190
4.3.2 ICT AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: EMPOWERMENT AS A CAUSE-AND-EFFECT RELATIONSHIP - 193
4.3.3 ‘FREE’ AS IN ‘FREEDOM TO PROLIFERATE’: WHEN DIGITAL COMMUNITY BECOMES MOVEMENT - 203
4.3.4 THE WEB AS MEDIATOR. WEB 2.0 TOOLS AND USER-GENERATED-CONTENTS- 212
4.4 TOWARDS A CLASSIFICATION OF DIGITAL COMMUNITIES - 217

CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS - 240
APPENDIX - 252
LIST OF BOXES - 252
LIST OF DOCUMENTS - 252
LIST OF FIGURES - 253
LIST OF TABLES - 254
MATERIAL RELATED TO CHAPTER 2 - 255
MATERIAL RELATED TO CHAPTER 3 - 261
MATERIAL RELATED TO CHAPTER 4 - 262
REFERENCES - 283
WEB RESOURCES- 299

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share
Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons,
171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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