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Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious

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Publication details

JournalNew media & society
DatePublished - Sep 2009
Issue number6
Volume11
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)985-1002
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The movement toward what is often described as Web 2.0 is usually understood as a large-scale shift toward a participatory and collaborative version of the web, where users are able to get involved and create content. As things stand we have so far had little opportunity to explore how new forms of power play out in this context of apparent 'empowerment' and 'democratization'. This article suggests that this is a pressing issue that requires urgent attention. To begin to open up this topic this article situates Web 2.0 in the context of the broader transformations that are occurring in new media by drawing on the work of a number of leading writers who, in various ways, consider the implications of software 'sinking' into and 'sorting' aspects of our everyday lives. The article begins with this broader literature before exploring in detail Scott Lash's notion of 'post-hegemonic power' and more specifically his concept of 'power through the algorithm'. The piece concludes by discussing how this relates to work on Web 2.0 and how this work might be developed in the future.

    Research areas

  • new forms of power, performative infrastructures, post-hegemony, Scott Lash, social networking sites, social participation, technological unconscious, Web 2.0, SOCIOLOGY, SOFTWARE

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