New Network Theory – Tiziana Terranova

On: June 28, 2007
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About Michelle Lentz


New Network TheoryTiziana Terranova is the author of Corpi nella Rete (Bodies in the Net) and Network Culture and is currently a visiting professor in Sociology of Communication at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’. Her talk concerns the following topic; Everything is everything: network science, neo-liberalism and security.

Terranova’s prime object of study in this lecture is the economy of the Internet and the complex social network this ultimately entails. She refers to Foucault’s notion of seeing capitalism from the inside, the new manners of control. With the Internet, neo-capitalism is booming, the market has become a game of competition. She claims that the mechanism of power is shifting towards the mechanism of security. The Internet is after all an unstable entity. Platforms, communities need to be secured to create semi-open and stable environments.

She then goes on and refers to O’Reilly’s notion of web 2.0, made from the collective intelligence of the crowd, the active users. Terranova implicitly asks how the economic market on the Internet can sustain in such a flow-like environment if even users are multiplicities, use many different access codes, names, preferences etc. Her answer, which she draws from Yochai Berkler, is that the economy on the internet is a social relation. Companies on the Internet need to capture social relations from their clientele, that is, construct brand loyalty and offer innovations. People always expect something in return from their investment, even in the information economy where it seems that many things are given for free.

Terranova gives a broad overview of how the internet economy might be viewed and how it is different from the offline economy, but does not give answers to what this insight in capturing and being captured offers. She does however conclude with the following three questions;
-What does it mean to think the market as a mechanism of control of network cultures?
-What is involved in the process of capturing a public in a networked environment?
-What difference does it make to think of social relation in terms of individual motivation or in terms of personal flows of social quanta?

The answers will be nice starting points for the next New Network Theory Conference.

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