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

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