Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies

Agency Matters!

The in-between of software, hardware and user communities.

With the advent of the personal computer the concept of active audiences was pushed to the perception of interactive audiences, shaping the commonplace of the consumer as the producer. However, the digital culture – based on computers, software and the internet – stimulates user participation already in its technical aspects. Participation takes place on the level of using technology as well as on the level of designing technology. A closer look at the dynamic interaction of various actors – users, companies, and technical elements – unfolds a dense actor network (B. Latour). This paper investigates different layers of user participation and how they relate to each other. These different layers of participation are visible in many user communities, from game consoles hackers to open source software projects such as Firefox. In conclusion the paper argues that the notion of user participation must be revisited to emphasize the complex interdependency between the different – human and non-human – actors. A participatory culture is not only determined by the social use of cultural products but also by the design process and the very aspects of software itself.

Date September 2006 Category Lectures

The in-between of software, hardware and user communities.
Paper presented at CRESC conference 2006, Oxford (UK), September 8 2006.

2000 - 2018 Mirko Tobias Schäfer

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