Information and communication technologies like the internet are frequently singled out as harbingers of social and political change, in Asia as much as elsewhere. Yet there has not been a sustained scholarly effort to explore how contemporary ICT affect social groups, how they change interpersonal dynamics, to what extent they shape our sense of community, and what laws and regulations are leveraged to then govern such communities.
Do digital technologies extend and accelerate the established logics of social interactions and group affiliations, or do they transform the rationale behind our relations? What happens to friendships, family ties, work relations, and political interactions once they are ‘upgraded’ to Web 2.0? What does it take to bring users together and turn them into political subjects like ‘netizens’? Can there ever be such a thing as a ‘digital community’, and if so: what would make such a community sustainable as a viable political group? And what changes do digital media networks introduce to traditional ‘imagined communities’, that is: to large-scale associations like nations, religious orders, or political movements, in which members do not personally know all other members but construct their sense of belonging through screens and digital interfaces?
Questions like these go to the heart of how we conceptualize digital media and their relevance today.
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