Preconference Workshop: Appropriating the Internet: Alternative & Comparative Histories
Resistance + Appropriation
Date: 23-26 October 2013
Venue: University of Denver
While the internet is now in its fifth decade, the
understanding and formulation of its histories outside of a Euro-American
framework is very much in its infancy. In this workshop, which arises from a
large Australian Research Council discovery grant on Asia-Pacific Internet
Histories (http://internethistories.net/), speakers explore some of the
problems, questions, assumptions, methods, biases, narratives, metaphors and
logics that underlie the research into the diverse histories of Internet
appropriation and resistance.
In its current phase of development — associated with social, mobile, locative, and other kinds of media, as well as the extension of internet deeper into everyday life — it is even more important to understand the cultural and other factors that led to the appropriation or rejection of specific internet technologies, forms, uses, and affordances, and what their implications might be.
The paths of internet adoption have been multiple and divergent, reflecting the localized adaptations of the internet. The year 2009-2010, for example, has been celebrated as the ―Facebook‖ moment, when the US high-school friendship and reunion culture-inspired software diffused widely across the world. To grasp the significance of Facebook‘s take-up in countries as diverse as Indonesia, the Philippines, China, or New Zealand, requires an acknowledgement of the kind of already existing media cultures influential upon users, as well as the industry, policy, and social contexts, and the ways that imported – and local – technologies are domesticated. It is necessary, then, to focus upon western models such as Facebook and Friendster alongside Korean examples such as Cyworld mini-hompy, Japanese sites such as mixi, Chinese cases such as the QQ instant messaging software, and the antecedents that led to these.
In this workshop, then, participants address the development of social media in Japan, China and Australia through a mix of methodologies. Some papers engage with oral narratives of online ―connection,‖ exploring the idea that the origin of the internet is multiple, distinct for each person and that the stories we tell ourselves about this moment of first connection shape our understanding of this and related network technologies. Other speakers look at the ways in which social activism and political engagement have driven social media use in specific societies.