Forms of Materiality Within Digital Cultures : Online Community Practices

This research project proposes to clarify the distinction between “material” and “intangible” objects within the context of large-scale dissemination, in contemporary Western societies, of established digital technologies (collaborative tools) and emerging technologies (e.g. 3D printing). The merging of digital objects (cultural works or content, software, computer code, data) with “immaterial” objects is prevalent in discourses on technologies and digital media. However, the circulation of objects, within communities of practice supported by digital media, is marked by constant passages between the material and immaterial, the physical and digital. To what extent do these dichotomies, which have been conceptualized by researchers, hold meaning for the actors within these collectives? How do people represent these “forms of materiality” and to what extent do these representations orient their behaviour and structure their sociabilities? Based on three case studies (a Quebec Makerspace group, an online community of amateur seamstresses and an online community of conchyliologists), this project investigates the extent to which the “physical/digital” distinction is meaningful and directs behaviour. The project is headed by Guillaume Latzko-Toth, Professor at the Department of Information and Communication at Laval University (SSHRC Insight Grant, 2015–2017). Florence Millerand and Madeleine Pastinelli participate as co-investigators, Johan Soderberg is a collaborator, and Jeanne Bélichard is the research assistant.

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This content has been updated on 19 December 2023 at 14 h 46 min.