Digital Technologies of Connection

“Digital communication technologies, such as the Internet and mobile telephony, can be placed within a continuum of ‘technologies of connection’. Such technologies alter the way in which individuals are connected, and may affect emergent social structures. In exploring the changes resulting from increased social connectivity, a number of useful approaches may be drawn from disparate disciplines. While network theory provides tools for describing connected structures, it fails to account for the complexity of individuals within a social system. Individual based modelling addresses this shortcoming, however both these approaches generally conceptualise systems as static. In understanding the ongoing effect of changes in social connectivity, it is necessary to appreciate social space as an unfolding metastable flux. Complexity theory suggests a dynamic, yet discontinuous model for the development of connected systems. This approach explores the qualitative changes brought about by increasing connectivity between individuals, resulting in a series of transitions through discrete emergent social states. A Deleuzian ontology of the virtual is proposed as a framework within which such studies can be situated. Structuring exploration around notions of virtual resources may deliver a greater understanding of the potential impact that digital connectivity will have on individuals and the social spaces they inhabit.” [read the full paper]
Rolfe, B. (2004) Digital Technologies of Connection: Modelling Individual and Societal Impact. Proceedings of the 2004 Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association conference held at La Trobe University. Beechworth, La Trobe University.

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