The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media

The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media


By (author) Jose Van Dijck

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 232mm x 18mm | 360g
  • Publication date: 21 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199970785
  • ISBN 13: 9780199970780
  • Illustrations note: 1 b/w figure
  • Sales rank: 88,913

Product description

Social media has come to deeply penetrate our lives: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many other platforms define many of our daily habits of communication and creative production. The Culture of Connectivity studies the rise of social media in the first decade of the twenty-first century up until 2012, providing both a historical and a critical analysis of the emergence of major platforms in the context of a rapidly changing ecosystem of connective media. Such history is needed to understand how these media have come to profoundly affect our experience of online sociality. The first stage of their development shows a fundamental shift. While most sites started out as amateur-driven community platforms, half a decade later they have turned into large corporations that do not just facilitate user connectedness, but have become global information and data mining companies extracting and exploiting user connectivity. Author and media scholar Jose van Dijck offers an analytical prism to examine techno-cultural as well as socio-economic aspects of this transformation. She dissects five major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Wikipedia. Each of these microsystems occupies a distinct position in the larger ecology of connective media, and yet, their underlying mechanisms for coding interfaces, steering users, and filtering content rely on shared ideological principles. At the level of management and organization, we can also observe striking similarities between these platforms' shifting ownership status, governance strategies, and business models. Reconstructing the premises on which these platforms are built, this study highlights how norms for online interaction and communication gradually changed. "Sharing," "friending," "liking," "following," "trending," and "favoriting" have come to denote online practices imbued with specific technological and economic meanings. This process of normalization, the author argues, is part of a larger political and ideological battle over information control in an online world where everything is bound to become social. Crossing lines of technological, historical, sociological, and cultural inquiry, The Culture of Connectivity will reshape the way we think about interpersonal connection in the digital age.

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Author information

Jose van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, where she also served as the Dean of Humanities. She has a PhD from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and previously taught at the Universities of Groningen and Maastricht. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media technologies, social media, television and culture. She is the author of five books, three co-edited volumes and many journal articles.

Review quote

"The Culture of Connectivity perhaps stands out most for the ways it attends to microhistorical changes that are often difficult to track given our increasing embeddedness in social media networks and their frequent multilevel updates." --Critical Inquiry"An invaluable guide to today's fast morphing social media ecosystem. Van Dijck cuts through the blur of online search, sociability, entertainment and commerce to reveal the underlying historical, cultural and economic dynamics that shape our expectations and underpin our vulnerabilities." --William Uricchio, Professor & Director, MIT Comparative Media Studies"Unlike so many other contributions, Jose van Dijck's superb book treats the 'social' in social media with the seriousness it deserves. It's critical, intelligent, clearly written and remarkably comprehensive. I'm going to force everyone I know who's interested in digital media to read it." --David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds"Jose van Dijck's The Culture of Connectivity provides us with a balanced and thought-provoking account of the role of social media in shaping human interaction and sociality. She offers a multi-layered model for thinking critically about social media. The particular strength of this work is that it illuminates many of the current debates concerning digital culture through a much-needed critical history that contextualises the rise of social media. This timely and important book is a must read for anyone interested in digital culture." --John Banks, Senior Lecturer, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology"Jose van Dijck's Culture of Connectivity is a rich and much-needed critical history of the online platforms that, in hardly more than a decade, have become household names, such as Facebook. Essential reading if we are to comprehend the intricately intertwined political-economic and technological designs behind the meteoric rise of so-called 'social media'." --Ien Ang, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney"The coevolution of media with the public that uses them is described in an enlightening way...Recommended." --Choice"A lucid account...The Culture of Connectivity perhaps stands out most for the ways it attends to microhistorical changes that are often difficult to track given our increasing embeddedness in social media networks and their frequent multilevel updates." --Critical Inquiry"

Table of contents

Table of Contents ; Acknowledgments ; Chapter 1: Engineering Sociality in a Culture of Connectivity ; 1.1 Introduction ; 1.2 From Networked Communication to Platformed Sociality ; 1.3 Making the Web Social: Coding Human Connections. ; 1.4 Making Sociality Saleable: Connectivity as a Resource ; 1.5 The Ecosystem of Connective Media in a Culture of Connectivity ; Chapter 2: Disassembling Platforms, Reassembling Sociality ; 2.1 Introduction ; 2.2 Combining Two Approaches ; 2.3 Platforms as Techno-cultural Constructs ; 2.4 Platforms as Socio-economic Structures ; 2.5 Connecting Platforms, Reassembling Sociality ; Chapter 3: Facebook and the Imperative of Sharing ; 3.1 Introduction ; 3.2 Coding Facebook: The Devil is in the Default ; 3.3 Branding Facebook: What You Share Is What You Get ; 3.4 Shared norms in the Ecosystem of Connective Media ; Chapter 4: Twitter and the Paradox of Following and Trending ; 4.1 Introduction ; 4.2 Asking the Existential Question: What is Twitter? ; 4.3 Asking the Strategic Question: What Does Twitter Want? ; 4.4 Asking the Ecological Question: What Will Twitter Be? ; Chapter 5: Flickr between Communities and Commerce ; 5.1 Introduction ; 5.2 Flickr Between Connedtedness and Connectivity ; 5.3 Flickr Between Commons and Commerce ; 5.4 Flickr Between Participatory and Connective Culture ; Chapter 6: YouTube: The Intimate Connection between Television and Video-sharing ; 6.1 Introduction 179-215 ; 6.2 Out of the Box: Video-sharing Challenges Television ; 6.3 Boxed In: Channeling Television into the Connective Flow ; 6.4 YouTube as A Gateway to Connective Culture ; Chapter 7: Wikipedia and the Principle of Neutrality ; 7.1 Introduction ; 7.2 The Techno-cultural Construction of Consensus ; 7.3 A Consensual Apparatus between Democracy and Bureaucracy ; 7.4 A Nonmarket Space in the Ecosystem? ; Chapter 8: The Ecosystem of Connective Media: Locked In, Fenced Off, Opt Out? ; 8.1 Introduction ; 8.2 Locked In: The Algorithmic Basis of Sociality ; 8.3 Fenced Off: Vertical Integration and Interoperability ; 8.4 Opt Out? Connectivity as Ideology ; Bibliography ; Index