Changes in Online Subjectivity: Artificial Users, Subject Fragmentarization, and Multimodal Interaction

Changes in Online Subjectivity: Artificial Users, Subject Fragmentarization, and Multimodal Interaction

Zdenek Smutny (University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic) and Vaclav Janoscik (Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4047-2.ch001

Abstract

Human subjectivity is deeply affected by the environment as mediated by the Internet. As users within this environment, people are not only affected by their entrance into it, but their subjectivity evolves along with the trends of online networking. The subjectivity of people is affected by (their networking with) human and artificial users of the environment and the possibility of influencing user's subjectivity is also given by other specific aspects of the environment. This chapter focuses on three areas: artificial users, subject and its fragmentarization, and multimodal interaction. Findings in conceptualizing change in terms of subjectivity are based within the poststructuralist philosophical tradition. There is applied the phenomenon known as the “death of the author,” proclaimed in late 1960s, to the situation of the contemporary user to uncover changes in online subjectivity. The chapter also presents examples of implications of such changes at the level of interactions and distribution of messages and the role of artificial users in these processes within online marketing.
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Definitions Of Important Terms

The emergence of the information society represents an important qualitative shift, with significant implications for the future development of society. It was created new platform – it is a shared and continuously re-formed new environment designed for human and human made artificial agents (named e.g. software agents, softbots or simply bots). This environment is in various fields named in different ways, e.g.: cyberspace, online environment(s), Internet-mediated environment(s), virtual environment(s), virtual world(s). Each designation emphasizes another feature or aspect which is associated with a given environment. As appropriate designation for needs of this chapter was chosen virtual environment.

The most appropriate and sufficiently general explanation of this term is that it is an environment that consists of Internet-based services mediated by computers interconnected via networks (Internet). It is in accordance with a similar approach applies for virtual conversation, teams, products, organizations, etc. For example, virtual conversation is defined as communications that take place over computer networks, in which there is an essential element utilizing ICT for mediating such communications and cooperation among otherwise physically distant entities (Davidow, 1993; DeSanctis & Monge, 1999). Virtual conversation can be dynamically changed, e.g. resources can be added or removed according to the objective – so-called switching. (Mowshowitz, 1999; Mowshowitz & Kawaguchi, 2005). Virtual teams for instance, are formed as user-selected networks using the principle of switching. Relevant individuals are chosen while others are excluded, “switched off”.

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