This course focuses on digitalization and its transformations for society and culture. Digitalization, the process of integrating digital technologies into all areas of our lives, has produced new interfaces between society, culture and doing social research. We will discuss how the architecture of the web controls but also enables user practices.
User and (online) communities use but also partly depend on digital technology, they make use of digital data, online networks and the specific characteristics of digital media. These often include digital natives who are growing up with an understanding that sharing (digital) data is essential of how friendships and communities are being built and maintained. The internet has facilitated and allowed for individual users and communities to create, configure and control content. At the same time users give information about the number of connections (friends), activities within the networks (status updates, likes, shares). Numbers, ranks and scores structure our online presence; they are used by us but also by observers with commercial or political interests. We investigate the digital and the social, the digital economy, the culture of sharing, blockchain, and digitalization and sustainability. Can we observe technomoral changes in the ways we deal with topics relevant for us as individuals (e.g. privacy), as communities (sharing and open access) or the environment (e.g. e-trash)? The method introduced in this course is virtual ethnography. Your task will be to conduct an interview and to investigate a specific Online discussion or community to investigate technomoral change in a specific area discussed in this course.