chapter  3
74 Pages

Networks, Users and Economics

What we now understand to be the Internet in general and the web in the specific is the product of a number of factors. Its method of development has not been by design, like a state broadcasting institution such as the BBC. Instead its protean identity is reproduced by a mix of fandom, community, commerce and business, linked by technologies that are both private and publicly owned and variously regulated. In other words the Internet came into existence as the result of numerous factors, accidents, passions, collisions and tensions. Its ongoing development must therefore be seen as the product of those tensions; tensions which can be seen in this section between economic and regulatory factors and the communicative practices discussed further on in the section. Once this book is a few years old we think that you should be able to take some of the approaches to its study delineated in this text and be able to make sense of the direction of development. Given the dynamics of permanent upgrade culture this is a tall order but one we think worthwhile.