On the re-materialization of the virtual

AI and Society 28 (2):189-198 (2013)

The so-called new economy based on the global network of digitalized communication was welcomed as a platform of innovations and as a vehicle of advancement of democracy. The concept of virtuality captures the essence of the new economy: efficiency and free access. In practice, the new economy has developed into an heterogenic entity dominated by practices such as propagation of trust and commitment to standards and standard-like technological solutions; entrenchment of locally strategic subsystems; surveillance of unwanted behavior. Five empirical cases within the present field of opposing forces serve as fuel for reflection: football hooliganism, sand-boxing, digital vulnerability of nuclear technology, sensitivity of studio projects, and streamlining academic computing. The main argument of the article is that a historic re-materialization is taking place within the new economy. This means cognitive as well as material divisions. Incommensurability in science is comparable with product incompatibility from the point of view of their implications to the users of knowledge and computers. Hype and banal attached to the new media are related to two ways of assessing social capital: as a means of peaceful functionality or a condition for cultural conflicts. The paper ends in proposing that there is a re-materialization of the virtual now taking place especially on the meta-level of the system.
Keywords Re-materialization  Virtual  New economy  Democracy  Commodification
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-012-0429-8
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We Have Never Been Modern.Bruno Latour - 1993 - Harvard University Press.

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