Acting as Actants

Knowing that “by a sequence of selections and searches one can find anything that is ‘out there’”(Berners-Lee), opens the door to a whole new level of access to everything— it is quite intimidating to think of the World Wide Web this way. This concept, however, is not new to us. As digital millennials, we have had the internet at our fingertips for almost the entirety of our academic careers. We have had the opportunity to use this complex system that we view as a pattern of clicks driven by a slight interest or desire to find out more. As a user of the internet without any prior knowledge of how it all works, it is daunting to realize what a few simple clicks actually means.

It puts creating a website of my own, studying an ecology of my own, into perspective. It is naive to think the World Wide Web simply began to exist or that web pages are simply put there with a simple click. As an academic, learning the complexities of the internet, it is important to pay respects to learning the processes by which my website is able to exist. Tim Berners-Lee and colleagues do an excellent job of laying the groundwork for understanding the intricacy of the internet in “The World Wide Web”, illustrating the domino effect one single click has. All of the minute and individuals steps that go into a successful internet experience remind me of Jane Bennett’s discussion of an actant in “Vibrant Matter”. An actant can be human or nonhuman, but merely possesses efficacy to change something. In this way, both human and nonhuman actants work to make the internet thrive. We as humans communicate with the nonhuman processes that are the internet, hoping to create something of lasting value.

Taking what I now understand about the world wide web and how actants are important when considering the significance of something, I want to focus on an ecology that makes use of different processes of communication and how they all effect one another. By gaining understanding of a spaces affect, what contributes to this affect, and why humans choose to return to these spaces, it will become broadly clear why humans continue to use and become addicted to the internet (similar to becoming addicted to caffeine or a particular coffeeshop). We don’t know why we become so attached to these things or what is is about a certain space that draws us in. The mere act of communicating with something or someone is a force I believe to be behind this attachment. Even when using the World Wide Web or creating a web page, we are communicating with something. It may be a nonhuman entity, but we are actants causing a pattern of processes to be carried out and that is a powerful.


~ by hannahvoorheis on February 8, 2016.

One Response to “Acting as Actants”

  1. I would choose your post as being the best overall simply because you are able to beautifully speak to the root of why we are all here. Your post speaks much about the foundation of the Web and understanding its purpose today and finding the best practices for reaching the limits of where it’s possible to go. I feel that you see yourself as both the creator and consumer, constantly adapting.

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