Skip to content

Internet as actant

“The internet” doesn’t have any information. The internet (‘INTernational NETwork’) is the collection of hard and software that enables the storing and transmission of data. Basically, a massive version of the network in your office. You access the information, which is created and stored by individuals.

In practice, apart from people actively involved in its governance (The Internet Society), and network engineers of various types, ‘the internet’ – as an empirical material reality – has no practical prosaic reality for people (unless of course it stopped working…). However, simultaneously, millions of people around the world (as in the comic strip above) interact with ‘the internet’ – objectively, that is what they say is giving them information; so empirically we cannot ignore this. Just as if a person was to say aliens made her assassinate the president – we can’t locate those aliens, but ‘they’ did make her shoot the gun.

I think this is what Latour means by an ‘actant’: it is assigned agency by actors, and is ‘enrolled’ – brought to bear as part of their active engagement with others. Miller & Slater also use that approach in their classic - The Internet - An Ethnographic Approach.


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.
:'( :-) :-| :-O :-( 8-) :-D :-P ;-) 
BBCode format allowed
Form options