The technocultural dimensions of meaning: towards a mixed semiotics of the World Wide Web

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The technocultural dimensions of meaning: towards a mixed semiotics of the World Wide Web
Authors: Ganaele Langlois [edit item]
Citation: York University  : . 2008.
Publication type: Thesis
Peer-reviewed: Yes
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Link(s): Paper link
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The technocultural dimensions of meaning: towards a mixed semiotics of the World Wide Web is a publication by Ganaele Langlois.


[edit] Abstract

This dissertation project argues that the study of meaning-making practices on the Web, and particularly the analysis of the power relations that organize communicational practices, needs to involve an acknowledgement of the importance of communication technologies. This project assesses the technocultural impact of software that automatically produces and dynamically adapts content to user input through a case study analysis of amazon.com and of the {MediaWiki} software package. It offers an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that borrows from communication studies (discourse analysis, medium theory, cultural studies of technology), from new media studies (software criticism) and from Actor-network theory and Felix Guattari's mixed semiotics. In so doing, the research defines a new methodological framework through which the question of semiotics and discourse can be analyzed thanks to an exploration of the technocultural conditions that create communicative possibilities. The analysis of amazon.com examines how the deployment of tools to track, shape and predict the cultural desires of users raises questions related to the imposition of specific modes of interpretation. In particular, I highlight the process through which user-produced meanings are incorporated within software-produced semiotic systems so as to embed cultural processes within a commercial imperative. While amazon.com is an instance of the commercial use of dynamic content production techniques on the Web, Wikipedia stands as a symbol of non-commercial knowledge production. The Wikipedia model is not only cultural, but also technical as mass collaborative knowledge production depends on a suite of software tools - the {MediaWiki} architecture - that enables new discursive practices. The Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture as Wikipedia. In particular, I examine how legal and technical processes on the Web appropriate discursive practices by capitalizing on user-produced content as a source of revenue.

[edit] Research questions

"This project assesses the technocultural impact of software that automatically produces and dynamically adapts content to user input through a case study analysis of amazon.com and of the MediaWiki software package. How a cultural ideal of creating and storing knowledge and a technical platform such as MediaWiki can be articulated with each other to create a cultural form such as Wikipedia is the starting question for this case study. The Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture - MediaWiki - as Wikipedia. In particular, the case study examines how legal and technical processes capitalize on user-produced content as a source of revenue, thus revealing how technical and commercial processes on the Web appropriate discursive practices."

Research details

Topics: Technical infrastructure, Other collaboration topics [edit item]
Domains: Communications, Information systems, Sociology [edit item]
Theory type: Explanation [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "Medium Theory and Materialities of Communication; Actor-Network Theory, Cultural Studies and Medium Theory" [edit item]
Research design: Case study [edit item]
Data source: Direct observation [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Website [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: N/A [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"this research project has attempted to provide a grounded methodology to unravel the dynamics linking code, software and culture. The politics through which these dynamics are established and accepted as the normative are central in understanding the play of power relations on the Web. The adaptation of the mixed semiotics framework to the study of Web makes it possible to trace the unfolding of cultural practices of meaning-making and ways of being on the Web. In so doing, the mixed semiotics framework redefines software studies as an essential approach to understanding the evolution of the social and political implications of the mainstream Web."

[edit] Comments

"The Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture - MediaWiki - as Wikipedia."


Further notes[edit]

Facts about "The technocultural dimensions of meaning: towards a mixed semiotics of the World Wide Web"RDF feed
AbstractThis dissertation project argues that the This dissertation project argues that the study of meaning-making practices on the Web, and particularly the analysis of the power relations that organize communicational practices, needs to involve an acknowledgement of the importance of communication technologies. This project assesses the technocultural impact of software that automatically produces and dynamically adapts content to user input through a case study analysis of amazon.com and of the {MediaWiki} software package. It offers an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that borrows from communication studies (discourse analysis, medium theory, cultural studies of technology), from new media studies (software criticism) and from Actor-network theory and Felix Guattari's mixed semiotics. In so doing, the research defines a new methodological framework through which the question of semiotics and discourse can be analyzed thanks to an exploration of the technocultural conditions that create communicative possibilities. The analysis of amazon.com examines how the deployment of tools to track, shape and predict the cultural desires of users raises questions related to the imposition of specific modes of interpretation. In particular, I highlight the process through which user-produced meanings are incorporated within software-produced semiotic systems so as to embed cultural processes within a commercial imperative. While amazon.com is an instance of the commercial use of dynamic content production techniques on the Web, Wikipedia stands as a symbol of non-commercial knowledge production. The Wikipedia model is not only cultural, but also technical as mass collaborative knowledge production depends on a suite of software tools - the {MediaWiki} architecture - that enables new discursive practices. The Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture as Wikipedia. In particular, I examine how legal and technical processes on the Web appropriate discursive practices by capitalizing on user-produced content as a source of revenue.r-produced content as a source of revenue.
Added by wikilit teamAdded on initial load +
Collected data time dimensionCross-sectional +
CommentsThe Wikipedia model is the result of a setThe Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture - MediaWiki - as Wikipedia.i architecture - MediaWiki - as Wikipedia.
Conclusionthis research project has attempted to prothis research project has attempted to provide a grounded methodology to unravel the dynamics linking code, software and culture. The politics through which these dynamics are established and accepted as the normative are central in understanding the play of power relations on the Web. The adaptation of the mixed semiotics framework to the study of Web makes it possible to trace the unfolding of cultural practices of meaning-making and ways of being on the Web. In so doing, the mixed semiotics framework redefines software studies as an essential approach to understanding the evolution of the social and political implications of the mainstream Web.itical implications of the mainstream Web.
Data sourceDirect observation +
Google scholar urlhttp://scholar.google.com/scholar?ie=UTF-8&q=%22The%2Btechnocultural%2Bdimensions%2Bof%2Bmeaning%3A%2Btowards%2Ba%2Bmixed%2Bsemiotics%2Bof%2Bthe%2BWorld%2BWide%2BWeb%22 +
Has authorGanaele Langlois +
Has domainCommunications +, Information systems + and Sociology +
Has topicTechnical infrastructure + and Other collaboration topics +
Peer reviewedYes +
Publication typeThesis +
Published inYork University +
Research designCase study +
Research questionsThis project assesses the technocultural iThis project assesses the technocultural impact of software that automatically produces and dynamically adapts content to user input through a case study analysis of amazon.com and of the MediaWiki software package.

How a cultural ideal of creating and storing knowledge and a technical platform such as MediaWiki can be articulated with each other to create a cultural form such as Wikipedia is the starting question for this case study.

The Wikipedia model is the result of a set of articulations between technical and cultural processes, and the case study examines how this model is captured, modified and challenged by other websites using the same wiki architecture - MediaWiki - as Wikipedia. In particular, the case study examines how legal and technical processes capitalize on user-produced content as a source of revenue, thus revealing how technical and commercial processes on the Web appropriate discursive practices.
the Web appropriate discursive practices.
Revid10,995 +
TheoriesMedium Theory and Materialities of Communication; Actor-Network Theory, Cultural Studies and Medium Theory
Theory typeExplanation +
TitleThe technocultural dimensions of meaning: towards a mixed semiotics of the World Wide Web
Unit of analysisWebsite +
Urlhttp://www.infoscapelab.ca/files/technocultural-langlois.pdf +
Wikipedia coverageCase +
Wikipedia data extractionLive Wikipedia +
Wikipedia languageN/A +
Wikipedia page typeN/A +
Year2008 +