Globally, people in almost every sector of society are using the Internet for a variety of purposes, from everyday life to strategic and global issues. The diverse sets of practices, beliefs, and attitudes that evolve around these uses have attached importance to a growing number of related key issues, such as the future of privacy, freedom of expression, quality of news and entertainment, and nature. and distribution of employment. This has fueled the growth of Internet Studies as a major new field of research and teaching.
¿What are Internet Studies?
Internet studies are an interdisciplinary field whose object of study is the social, psychological, pedagogical, political, technical, cultural and artistic dimensions of the Internet. In the same way, study the associated information and communication technologies. Currently Internet studies are widespread in all academic disciplines, and there is a progressive collaboration between these investigations.
Internet studies are based on multiple disciplines that encompass political, economic, cultural, psychological, and other social factors, as well as computing and engineering. The emergence of this field has focused attention on theory and research on social issues. In the same way, it takes into account the cultural implications of widespread dissemination and the various uses of the Internet, the Web, information and communication.
The field has grown as the importance of technology to its growing global user community increases. It offers a framework within which academics from the many related disciplines have teamed up with interdisciplinary academics to form growing communities of researchers.These are building new foundations and reshaping some traditional disciplines to address the changing dynamics of networks and institutions and individuals within them.
Evolution of Internet Studies
As an interdisciplinary field, Internet Studies does not have an orthodox approach. Furthermore, the culture of this field is highly individualistic, as reflected in its evolution as a horizontal network of individuals working across geographic and institutional boundaries. This includes the very definition of "Internet" as well as fairly trivial discussions, such as whether or not to have an initial capital letter for "Internet" and "Web".
In recent years, Internet studies have multiplied in various higher education institutions around the world. The departments of these entities teach courses under names such as "Internet and society", "virtual society", "digital culture", "new media" or "convergent media", as well as various "iSchools" or programs such as "Media in Transition" . This has been particularly noticeable at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a pioneering university in this type of study, led by Nicholas Negroponte. On the research side, Internet studies intersect with studies of cyberculture, human-computer interaction, and science and technology studies. Another field of research is “Internet and society”. The latter addresses the study of how society has changed the Internet and how the Internet has changed society.
Subjects of study
Disciplines that contribute to Internet studies include:
Computer-mediated communication: The role of email, social media, online chat, blogging, and text messages in communication processes.
Digital Rights: User rights such as privacy, freedom of expression, intellectual property and digital rights management.
Internet security: such as the structure and spread of viruses, malware, and software exploits, as well as protection methods, including antivirus programs and firewalls.
Digital Work and the "Gig Economy": Sporadic short-term jobs in which the contracted person performs a specific task within a project during a certain period of time.
Internet architecture: including the fundamental programming and architecture of the Internet, such as TCP / IP, HTML, CSS, CGI, CFML, DOM, JS, PHP, XML.
Online communities: including Internet forums, blogs and MMORPG ('Massively multiplayer online role-playing game')
Open Source Software: Focuses on the ability of Internet users to collaborate to modify, develop, and improve pieces of software that are freely available to the public at no charge.
Internet sociology: including the social implications of the Internet, new social networks, online societies (virtual communities), identity practices and social interaction on the Internet.
Science and technology studies: how and why we have the digital technologies we have, and how social networks shape their development.
Internet culture: including the emergence of Internet slang, cyberculture, and digital music.
Use as a Study Object
Another common study object is usage, focusing on usage patterns, regardless of redundancy, in different social and institutional contexts, such as homes, schools, businesses, and internet cafes. Much of the empirical work on the Internet does not assume that the characteristics of technology will provide an adequate basis for understanding how it will be used and to what effect. By contrast, studies of Internet use often assume that users will employ, and tend to "tame" technologies in some unforeseen and unintended ways. This could have important social consequences. However, these usage patterns may vary in different institutional contexts and in different local and national legal and cultural contexts.
Everyday life: living in a network society
Since the home has been one of the main social contexts of use, a large amount of empirical research focuses on how people and households use the Internet. This, in accordance with the tradition of media research in newspapers, radio and television. And usage studies can focus on many different technologies, from email to blogs and social networking sites.
Unlike the study of the media, the study of Internet users also considers them not only as consumers, but also as producers of content. The potential for users to strategically reconfigure access to information, people, services and technologies. In this way, producing and consuming content are the defining aspects of the Internet.
Work and organizations: creation and work in a network economy.
Another varied range of social contexts includes the many activities and institutions involved with creation and work in a network economy. This would include studies of the Internet in the workplace and in business and commerce, including implications for employment, online commerce and new business models. But also government, including public services, productivity, responsiveness, electronic regulation, and government-linked structural change on the web.
Other more specific institutional contexts include Internet studies in science and research, and in education and learning in general, such as those related to informal and formal learning patterns.
Media: enhance communication and influence
In every home and other institutional setting, such as politics and society at large, the Internet raises issues of communication, power, and influence in a converging media world. This involves the media, including the press, online news and new media. But it also includes communication in other areas, such as campaigns and elections, including remote Internet voting, use by parties and candidates. This has implications for issues such as participation in elections and the effectiveness of campaign messages.
The future of internet studies
The future of this field is open, but there are three general scenarios that are useful to develop. These are alternative normative forecasts on how academics within this field could align.
The most likely scenario is that Internet researchers will continue to collaborate within and across the existing academic disciplines and structures of universities. The disciplinary landscape of most universities is populated with multiple disciplines, each of which has a claim on particular aspects of Internet studies. They include the media, communication, information studies and sociology, among others.
Specialization can be defined around the implications of the Internet, such as creating communities of geographically or politically focused scholars and specific communities of problem-based researchers, such as privacy or freedom of expression. This drive is easily backed by new magazines and associations and is a way to innovate in new fields that become more meaningful over time.
Integrative: creating a derived discipline
A third perspective is that Internet studies becomes a derived discipline. An increasingly integrated multidisciplinary field with an increasingly varied range of specialized subjects. Certain fields of research were derived from the combination of multiple disciplines. For example, political science focused on power and government as objects of study, with work in political philosophy, psychology, sociology, and economics, among other disciplines. They came together to form a field that over the decades has become a widely recognized discipline. Similarly, communication has been derived from academics in sociology, social psychology, political science, and other disciplines to focus on the media and the issues they pose, such as the influence of mass communication.
Internet Studies has been one of the most dynamic and rapidly expanding interdisciplinary fields in the last decade. Topics covered include social perspectives on Internet technology, the role of the Internet in everyday life and work, implications for communication, power and influence; and the governance and regulation of the Internet.
Internet studies are also a reflection of the interest of the general public, which is notable for the fact that the mainstream press often publishes topics that are the subject of study of this discipline. Cyber bullying, cyber love, cyber hate, cybercrime, cyber policy, web 2.0, etc. they are outstanding examples. This shows that the theoretical approach of internet studies mainly concerns the social.
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