‘The Culture of Connectivity’ – Dijck

I have recently started reading The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media (Dijck, 2013) and it touches on many interesting facets of contemporary social media. Of particular interest to me right now is Dijck’s definition of online platforms  that he describes as different from websites. “Wereas before, websites were generally operated as conduits for social activity, the new platforms increasingly turn these conduits into applied services, rendering the Internet easier to use but more difficult to tinker with.” (6) Suggesting that the onset of platforms, a paradigm shift of undeniable importance, brings with it a lack of generativity, it is easy to see why Dijck is finds it easy to be critical of such platforms.
In my own work that seeks to fit online games into the larger trends towards platforms as ‘conduits’ for participation, Dijcks analysis provides a useful definition of platforms as “Social network sites”, “User-generated content”, “Trading and marketing sites” and “Play and game sites”. Linking these four types of platforms by their innate sociality and creativity (25), Dijck unpacks platforms as ‘techno-cultural’ an ‘socio-economic’ conglomerations  that pull and tug in either way for the differing values participatory and corporate agencies embody. Although my own definition of platforms differs from Dijck’s, The culture of connectivity is an important contribution to the growing literature surrounding the understanding of platforms as essential to the contemporary digital landscape and human condition.

Dijick, V J. (2013) The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media, New York: Oxford University Press.

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