Living inside the NET: The Primacy of Interactions and Processes

Living inside the NET: The Primacy of Interactions and Processes

Brasilina Passarelli (School of Communications and Arts, University of São Paulo, Brazil) and Francisco Carlos Paletta (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8740-0.ch001


Internet is one of the biggest revolutions throughout the history of mankind. It has been opening minds, flourishing new abilities and creating social inclusion chances, helping to lead people to economical growth and a feel of purpose. Internet and its branches also bring issues, inherent to the ways of production, share ability and copyright, empowerment and other new challenges. This paper aims to highlight some examples of researchers regarding their studies on literacy (and illiteracy) in the WEB, inviting readers to think about the creative usage of Internet, facing it as much more than a mere tool: as a rich and challenging part of our lives, questioning the thoughts that usually leads us to “on” and “offline” categories. This classification seems to do not answer today's problems any longer, specially with the Internet of Things and Big Data reaching critical mass. Experiences with the School of the Future Research Laboratory – USP and more episodes are expounded, composing a peculiar landscape of the Internet as part of development of new skills and ways of thinking the world and mankind.
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Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding... – William Gibson, Neuromancer.

In an era of hyper connectivity (or continuous connectivity), of Internet of Things - IoT, of clothes and smart appliances and of Big Data, we experience the reconfiguration of social relationships and its power structures, of economy and education in a continuous flux and reflux of the information and communication mediation interfaces. Thereby, in this remixed culture, new logics, new semantics, and new laws emerge to cope with the new social order that forms and organizes itself on the interfaces (either as manXmachine and machineXmachine) as social relationships mediation surfaces within the growing flow of the communication among the connected actors.

From this broth of hyper connectivity, also emerges a new group of abilities and/or skills, formed after the usage of different technologies also called “digital literacies” and/or media literacy, reflecting a communicational reality that cannot handle any longer the process of mass communication reduced to the duality emitter-receptor from the past century. The new century brings in its DNA the concept of “new economy” presupposing new business models, the reciprocity of communicational actions and the hybridism of the traditional mass media as TV, cinema, radio and printed media with its younger brother – the digital media or new media.

The previously scenario drawn in this introduction converges to the statements from the sociologist Derrik de Kerkhove, in a lecture at the Advanced Studies Institute of University of São Paulo – USP (Dourado, 2013) regarding the centrality of technology in contemporary life. Disciple of the Canadian theorist Marshal McLuhan (1911-1980), Kerckhove is considered one of the most important specialists in the studies of the relations between digital technologies and society. He is a professor at the University of Toronto, where he coordinated for more than 20 years the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology. For him, in the transition to the contemporary technological society, the concept of totemism is reflected in a continuum between the human mind and the machine, whose result is a deep and decisive change in the ways they constitute and build the new identities, sociabilities and sensitivities of individuals nowadays. Self and digital networks interpenetrate each other and create themselves in relations of mutual interdependence; machines and technologies become extensions of the body; electronic identities and avatars circulate in cyberspace building new ways of living and of existence in the world and the internet becomes fundamental track of production, circulation and sharing of expressions, emotions and social action itself.

Passarelli (2012) researcher and coordinator of research-action projects on digital inclusion in environments of formal and non-formal education, recognizes two “waves” in the introduction of the Internet in Brazil. In the first “wave” that took place from the year 2000 when the commercial Internet began to be offered on a massive scale in the Brazilian context, the main focus was driven to access policies and infrastructure for the mitigation of the phenomena of digital exclusion and for the conquest of citizenship, aiming primarily the low-income population. The second “wave”, intensified from 2006, came as a result of the accumulation of experiences and information arising from public and private sector initiatives, creating the foundations for the need to adopt new approaches and research perspectives. These emerged concerned with the consideration about the reality of everyday usage of new technologies and the construction of identities and narratives by the actors in network, in different socio-historical and cultural realities and disembogue in the adoption of the concept of MIL - Media and Information Literacy to qualify the new communication skills, information search and knowledge production of connected actors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social IoT: To keep separate the two levels of people and things; to allow objects to have their own social networks; to allow humans to impose rules to protect their privacy and only access the result of autonomous inter-object interactions occurring on the objects’ social network.

Domestication Theory: An approach in science and technology studies and media studies that describes the processes by which innovations, especially new technology is 'tamed' or appropriated by its users. First, technologies are integrated into everyday life and adapted to daily practices. Secondly, the user and its environment change and adapt accordingly. Thirdly, these adaptations feedback into innovation processes in industry, shaping the next generation of technologies and services.

Smart Cities: Uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

Big Data: Broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, and information privacy. The term often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics or other certain advanced methods to extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set. Accuracy in big data may lead to more confident decision making.

Onlife: Defines more and more of our daily activity - the way we shop, work, learn, care for our health, entertain ourselves, conduct our relationships; the way we interact with the worlds of law, finance, and politics; even the way we conduct war. In every department of life, ICTs have become environmental forces which are creating and transforming our realities.

Web Squared: Emerging paradigm in IoT. It works with the integration of Web 2.0 with technologies of sensing to enrich the offered contents to explorers. However, the greatest challenges for the mass implementation of IoT still resides, according to researchers in the area, in scalability and efficiency.

New Media: A 21 st Century catchall term used to define all that is related to the internet and the interplay between technology, images and sound. In fact, the definition of new media changes daily, and will continue to do so. New media evolves and morphs continuously.

MIL - Media and Information Literacy: Recognizes the primary role of information and media in our everyday lives. It lies at the core of freedom of expression and information - since it empowers citizens to understand the functions of media and other information providers, to critically evaluate their content, and to make informed decisions as users and producer of information and media content. Information Literacy and Media Literacy are traditionally seen as separate and distinct fields. UNESCO’s strategy brings together these two fields as a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude) necessary for life and work today. MIL considers all forms of media and other information providers such as libraries, archive, museums and Internet irrespective of technologies used.

IoT (Internet of Things): Network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected.

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