Date: 09 April
Misuser innovations: How digital media were shaped by contested uses
Spam, illegal music sharing, and fake news are just a few classic examples of digital practices generally considered as “misuses” of the Internet and seen as plagues to be contained in order to preserve the integrity of the shared digital resource—as well as social peace. This notion of misuse has been a recurring trope in the trajectories of digital media, notably because there is no such thing as a given, obvious use of digital technology. There are only contested uses among which some uses get framed as more legitimate than others and are retrospectively characterized as the “proper” use. Through three case studies of playful, recreational online activities (gaming, chatting, running bots), this presentation provides a historical perspective of how misuse and misusers became drivers of innovation within early digital networks.
Guillaume Latzko-Toth is Full Professor of communication and digital media at Laval University (Quebec City, Canada). He is a founding member and codirector of the Laboratory for communication and the digital (LabCMO). Rooted in a Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspective, his research and publications address users’ contribution to the development of digital media; the role of artifacts in digitally-supported communities; datafication of society; and methodological and ethical issues related to research in digital contexts.