As Internet researchers we examine conversations, connections, contexts and cultures that are maintained between humans via new media. In this process, we often make use of concepts that pre-fix media or the social-technical activities enabled by them. While “new” is one such conceptualization it is by many scholars seen as a vague neologism (Fornäs, 2008). Attempts to overcome the ambiguity of “new” media have been made by advocating alternative concepts that nuance and clarify the “new” in “new media” (Flew, 2008; Gitelman & Pingree, 2003; Hirst & Harrison, 2008; Lax, 2009; Wessels, 2010). Indeed, “the growing trend of distinguishing between terminologies of media – digital, new, networked – has arguably been a consequence of separating different modes of engagement, production and consumption in new media cultures” (Fuery, 2009, p. 71). Some examples from the history of Internet research are “digital sensations” (Hillis, 1999), “networked identities” (Ryberg & Larsen, 2008), “computer-mediated communication” (Rice & Love, 1987; Siegel, et al., 1986) and “online presence” (Chen & Yen, 2004). More recent examples include “participatory culture”, “networked publics”, “digital media” and “online worlds” (from the 2010 AoIR conference). The central argument of this paper is that there is much to be gained from considering these concepts as analytical dimensions. That is, by (1) considering the opposites of these widely used concepts and (2) avoiding treating them as dichotomies, we hope to open up a space of inquiry (i.e. an analytical dimension) inbetween these conceptual poles. As such, the paper agrees with Morris and Ogan (1996), in that, in the context of ICT:s, it is important to provide taxonomies and categorizations that does not impose an overly-rigid structure. However, we also believe that there is reason to clarify our use of these concepts as Internet researchers. To illustrate this idea within the restricted space of this short paper, we will review a select number of common concepts, namely: participatory; digital; networked; interactive; online and ubiquitous.
Center for Society and Cyberstudies , 2011.