The Network Society: A Shift in Cognitive Ecologies? by Mathew Wall-Smith
By examining the psychodynamic effects on human cognition of the adoption of the technology of writing we can logically assess and contextualize the potential effect of the massification of networked information systems on our day-to-day thought processes. The identification of congruent, parallel and differential affect between writing and network technologies demands that their development be considered above and beyond the dictates and imperatives of consumer capitalism, it demands that the Internet be thought of in terms of public infrastructure rather than saleable capital.
Grand claims have been made for the revolutionary and evolutionary potential of what have loosely come to be called New Media and particularly the Internet. These claims inevitably focus on vague new terminologies and classifications that provide a romantic exception to intellectual rigor. Words such as 'interactivity', 'virtuality' and 'immersion' suggest the possibility of freedom from the tyrannical control of narrative and reality alike. Extrapolated in publications such as Wired magazine these claims invoke the image of pristinely organized and economized futures whose citizens, or in Negroponte/Wired parlance, 'Netizens' , are no longer chained to the collective kitchen sink of reality. According to the Wired dream, our true identities will be free to run the gauntlet in a realm of pure information; information cowboys colonizing the final frontier. The tremendous force of desire that continually seeks to push new product and content into an already saturated new media marketplace encourages the fanciful imaginings of the techno-romantic. State-of-the-art consumer desirables, content or tools, are accompanied with a prescriptive narrative of technological determinism; Buy now to think and act faster, cheaper, clearer and stronger. Tools and content need no longer function according to the needs of the consumer. They are designed for market placement; redundancy becomes a component of design; software is designed for minimal compatibility with competing platforms; networks become closed and designed to limit lateral movement and access to data. This work proposes that the market imperatives of consumer capitalism seriously threaten the development of what is potentially the most groundbreaking progression in human communication and cognitive technology since the 'interiorization of writing' . The effective development of the Internet as an open, user-defined space, runs contrary to the desires of the telecommunications industry which, in turn, places it at odds with those currently responsible for the development of its infrastructure. In response to this concern it appears prudent to contextualize the often-utopian visions and speculations of theorists such as Pierre Levy and Katherine Hayles within a communications meta-narrative that calls on the work of Ong, Derrida, McHale and Guattari and stands as an alternative to that proffered by consumer capitalism. New media technologies present what is a major shift in the discourse of the human subject. They offer the possibility of transcending the restrictive liberal subjectivity that has dominated the human cognitive ecology since the 'interiorization' of writing and the development of the western epistemology. Graham Meikle suggests, in his book Future Active , that the possibilities inherent in this development run contrary to the interests of centralized power structures that depend on the maintenance of the status quo through the control of information. As Derrida reminds us, the interests of established power structures (sociological or epistemological) rely on a continuity of identity  that in turn depends on the illusion of play within the 'reassuring certitude' and 'fundamental immobility'  of the system. The potentialities of cyberspace and the Internet provide the technological infrastructure with which to transcend this stasis in much the same way that writing freed the human cognitive ecology from the impasses of orality.
In Orality and Literacy Walter Ong describes the psychodynamic affect of the transition from a primarily oral culture to a literate culture. Published in 1982 Orality and Literacy precedes the development and popularization of networked computer systems. For Ong the pocket calculator provided an adequate synonym for the computer. Despite this Ong had the insight to equate technophobic reactions toward the computer with Plato's concerns regarding the adoption of the technology of writing. Plato's concerns are less relevant to this discussion than the fact that Ong had, even at that early stage, begun to find associations between the psychodynamic affect of writing and those of computing. The Internet transforms the computer's primary role from that of computation to communication. That computational power, in turn, has the potential to transform human communication and therefore, according to Ong, human consciousness. By examining the psychodynamic effects on human cognition of the adoption of the technology of writing we can logically assess and contextualize the potential effect of the massification of networked information systems on our day-to-day thought processes. The identification of congruent, parallel and differential affect between writing and network technologies effectively demands that their development be considered above and beyond the dictates and imperatives of consumer capitalism, it demands that the Internet be thought of in terms of public infrastructure rather than saleable capital .
In order to justify this positioning of the Internet and cyberspace in terms of a potentially major shift in human communication and cognition, it seems prudent to limit our focus to the principle effects initially raised by Ong and extrapolated here in order to contextualize emergent new media technologies. In the third chapter of Orality and Literacy, Ong discusses 'Some Psychodynamics of Orality' . He discusses the impossibility within a primarily oral culture of constructing a 'complicated series of assertions'  without the presence of an interlocutor. 'Sustained thought in oral culture is tied to communication'  but even if a 'lengthy analytical solution could be derived' it would depend on the development of mnemonic devices in order to ensure its recall at a later stage. In a later chapter Ong examines the way in which 'Writing Restructures Consciousness' . He asserts that the onset of literacy provided the imperative, the responsibility and a new potential, for the writer to construct arguments that "foresee circumspectly all possible meanings that a statement may have for any possible reader in any possible situation, and... to make language work so as to come clear all by itself" . Writing provides the potential for circumspection on behalf of both the reader and writer; it effectively separates the word from space and time and 'knower from the known' . The effect is however twofold. It allows the development of an analytically rigorous archive through the use of a technology that optimizes the cognitive potential of individual thought. However it also removes the imperative to think communally by eradicating the dependence of sustained thought on dialogic communication. The 'sparse linearity' of the literate cognitive mode and all the sociological, psychological, cultural, political and economic structures that it gives rise to as the basis of the western episteme, are dependent on limiting the multi-linear possibilities inherent in the free play of language that is encouraged within dialogical communication. Writing as an 'interiorized' cognitive ecology therefore provides the basis for the development of an unprecedented self-consciousness and reflexivity. This subjectivity promotes an apparent redundancy of communal thought and precedes the 'fundamental immobility' and 'reassuring certitude' to which Derrida refers in Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences  and represents a fundamental shift in the discourse of the human subject.
The Internet, cyberspace, and related technologies may represent the next major shift with regard to human cognition following the 'interiorization of writing'. This development depends on at least two other fundamental cultural transitions. Firstly, there must be a new shift in the discourse of the human subject, what Hayles calls the 'imperilment of liberal subjectivity'  and Guattari refers to as the development of "a subjectivity of the outside of wide open spaces ... far from being fearful of finitude" . Secondly, there must be a shift away from 'sparse linearity' of the literate cognitive mode, and the recognition of the rhizomatic matrix from which the (self) conscious mind, with an inclination toward predefined purpose, draws an arc of causally related events . These two shifts are fundamentally related in that the structuralist focus on the function of Western epistemology leads directly to post-structuralism's ontological dominant . The defence of the exposed episteme is then the first line of defence for an implicated 'imperiled liberal subjectivity' . Guattari, as quoted above, refers to an oral rather the network ecology. With this in mind we may extrapolate Ong's theory that the written form represents the separation of the word from time and place and 'knower from known'  in order to suggest that the Internet represents the separation of the utterance, respondent and present in an inter-subjective knowledge space, from real time and geographical space. In cyberspace all the structural benefits of literate cognition can be combined with the inter-subjectivity of the oral cognitive mode while providing the freedom of the plurality inherent in language and orality from the static 'tyrannical lock' of the printed 'visual field' . It is important to recognize that this 'tyrannical lock' has been interiorized within the cognitive ecology and in turn has formed the basis for the development of liberal humanist subjectivity. This homeostatic affectation and defence coordinated between static linearity and liberal subjectivity represents the 'metaphorical displacement' that serves as the basis for Derrida's 'fundamental immobility and reassuring certitude'  and also illuminates that which Ong refers to as the 'preemptiveness of literacy' , its aims predetermined and strategically linear. The fulfillment of the potential of distributed cognition in cyberspace depends on both the realization that the aforementioned discourses are restrictive and the willingness to utilize the congruent potential of the technology to transcend those restrictions.
While transcendence from the restrictive and mutually re-enforcing structures of liberal subjectivity and linear narrative/meta-narrative is suggested by the 'technical infrastructure'  of the network space, it is important to note that the desire and impetus to move beyond these structures has in no way been dependent on the development of that technology. Our consciousness is not being 'rebuilt' by the Internet. The Net has been developed during a period in which the ontological grounding of liberal subjectivity has been chronically undermined. The medium's non-linear, random-access infrastructure appears particularly useful to a culture that has exposed its ontological boundaries and sociological structures as having limited its cognitive potential. By exposing the 'structurality of structure'  and asserting that 'everything became discourse'  Derrida reclaims the possibility of affecting change through language. Language and social reality thus become mutually influencing and our future becomes, in part, a product of the ways in which we choose to perceive it and project it. Language and narrative in the post-structuralist environment become vehicles for an acknowledged heterogeneous projection of multiple subjectivities. This is a plural subjectivity that can no longer be functionally represented within the 'tyrannical lock' of the 'sparsely linear'  that works to limit possibility, dialogue and play. If the liberal subject is a construct of language then it stands to reason that the subject, that 'I', can be projected and affected within an inter-subjective narrative space. Post-structuralism serves to undermine the liberal subjectivity whose anxiety regarding the continuity of identity rejects the possibility of distributed cognition. Brian McHale in his book Postmodern Fiction identifies the strategies by which postmodern fiction extended linear narratives to explore these notions of non-linearity and a decentred subject removed from time and space . McHale draws our attention to the potential that narrative provides for us to 'do ontology in a tea cup' . The Internet allows us to take this project, the development of a post-ontological  cognition beyond the linear and ontological boundaries that postmodern narrative experimentation alluded to but could not provide. The internet can be seen as the logical space for the development of the poststructuralist thematic, providing the technological infrastructure that allows for the practical implementation of structures that actualize postmodernism's "whole new way of thinking and being in the world" . Cyberspace allows "de-localized communities to interact within a mobile landscape of signification" .
In the preceding paragraphs I have attempted to place the Internet as the logical space for the development of a collective, non-linear cognitive ecology that stands as a development of the cognitive ecologies that preceded it and the subjectivities that they gave rise to. The Internet, and more generally cyberspace, as it currently stands is, however, chaotic and unstructured. Many exponents including Graham Meikle, in his book Future Active, claim this as a fundamental virtue worthy of vigilant defense. Meikle expounds the benefits of the continually 'unfinished' media form. The style of media activism that he addresses rarely moves beyond defining itself in terms of opposition to the domination of the internet by those state and capitalist bodies who would support the restriction of information flows. We can see the effect that similar oppositional forces have had in the development of broadcast. Under-funded community organizations in both television and radio, with little infrastructure, desperately seek support from a localized minority often focusing on developing limited content for those excluded by main stream broadcasting. These ostracized and marginal voices rarely speak to the mainstream and combined with the voice of the state (public broadcast) stand merely as a poor excuse for a representative media. The Internet threatens to develop in a similar way as mainstream content providers lay high-bandwidth cable that serves 'random access' on a 'pay-per-view' basis to high resolution broadcast material. The potential of the Internet to provide a dynamic, dialogical, information space, a "technical infrastructure for the collective brain of living communities"  is, in this distopian vision, sold off to become a garbage tip for disused mainstream media . While the Internet bandwidth is restricted to the highest bidders, marginalized communities scream with comparatively miniscule voices and stage the occasional 'cyber sit in', achieving nothing but ensuring the continued suppression and marginalisation of their own position. If the cyber-utopia of Levy's enhanced 'knowledge space'  is to be realized it will not occur by occasionally bringing down a corporate server.
Progressive new media must work if it is going to be successfully adopted. For it to claim a cultural position that is defensible in the face of economic imperatives then the model should appeal to the needs and desires of the public. Quite simply developers/activists/artists/and theorists need to develop new and productive models for networked cognitive ecologies. We need to make the Internet as it stands an indispensable sight of innovation to the point at which it becomes an important component of the public infrastructure. The imperative, in the face of a public lulled into a desiring stupor by the mechanisms of consumer culture, is not to stand in opposition as a critical consumer, but to actively participate in the construction of new catalytic models for distributed cognition. As the Futurefarmers Collective by-line suggests, and these developers are at the forefront of innovative community and cognitive Web models, we must aim to 'cultivate consciousness' by 'farming futures' . Levy acknowledges that his theories point to a distant point at which the interiorization of non-linear networked ecologies has been fully realised . At the same time Levy is keen to point out that we already function as a distributed intelligence. No one person can know everything and we rely on our community to provide access to people who have specific and detailed knowledge of a particular subject. Communities form and develop intricate networks of knowledge that in turn function as distinct and collective subjectivities, "neurons of a planetary hyper cortex" . New media technologies provide an immediate and very real boost to the speed and economy at which such centers of knowledge can act. They need no longer meet once a week in separate districts and can log in to a collective network, possibly centred on technology as simple as a Web site and a Web log that provides them with a 'shared context' . The Internet already provides for the formation of "large geographically dispersed groups with instruments for cooperatively constructing a shared context".
The Sydney Independent Media Centre Web site , and the associated international network of sites of which it is part, are an interesting example of a form that doesn't succeed in moving beyond the linearity and ontology of literate (in this case barely) cognition. The Sydney-based site does not provide a shared context, the only thing its disparate voices appear to share is the desire to have there individual voices broadcast in a public space. As developers of cognitive space we must not be limited to such models which take their place in cyberspace simply because they have been deprived access to mainstream broadcast media alternatives. For that reason Indymedia, while providing a good example of real world activism, does not provide a salient model for new media. On Indymedia the presence of a respondent 'interlocutor' isn't valued as a productive voice. An effective way to gauge the importance of dialogue within an Internet community, to gauge its value as a productive cognitive environment, may well be to count the number of questions that are asked as opposed to the number of statements that are broadcast. Such a survey may provide a way of assessing how much the 'utterance freed from time and place', to which I have referred as a major development in the human cognitive ecology, is really valued on an individual site basis. It may also provide a measure of the functionality of differing Web-based community formats. How often do people expect or desire an answer?
There are some important models currently accessible on the Internet that are worthy of development as models of distributed intelligence. The Xrefer reference engine (at www.xrefer.com) offers the possibility of searching the full text of over 100 reference titles. It then provides the results of the search with all relevant etymological and contextual hyperlinks offered according to keywords. While this site is commercial and is indefinitely compatible with Meikle's 'Version 2 internet'  it does provide an interesting model. The site obviously describes the power of real time and dynamic access to inter-networked data. The data of the old world reference library becomes, at Xrefer, a dynamic memory bank that provides the connection of a "highly complex analogical processor that includes sensory, unconscious and conscious components", the human brain, with "massive storage and combinatorial ability, rapid retrieval, and reliable replication of the machine" . In this context it is possible to see that extent to which the Internet and cyberspace represent a paradigm shift in the 'discourse of the human subject'. The individual becomes a neural node in a cognitive space that resembles an augmented human brain with a collective and dynamic memory capable of lateral associations. Rather than requiring conformance this model values the productive difference in each subjective node as a valid and informative re-contextualisation of the cognitive whole.
Two sites produced by the Futurefarmers Collective  also provide informative models for distributed online cognition. The first is now well recognized as an innovative model. The They Rule  project shows the potential inherent in connecting information in new ways to come to a clearer understanding of a particular issue, in this case the monopoly and influence of the economic elites. In this model we find the value of a design that focuses on "the couplings that bind the [disparate, de-localized] parts into interactive wholes"  and the combinatorial affect of the dynamic symbiosis of man, machine, and information. Another site designed by the Futurefarmers collective is the Communiculture  project. Communiculture is described as "an experimental tool for communities" . The Futurefarmers' projects attempt to facilitate functional interaction on behalf of the user by ensuring that they are free to produce new contexts for information that is stored in an evolving dynamic database that the greater Communiculture community continual adds to. Both They Rule and Communiculture projects run on the premise of that cardinal anti-consumer mantra 'producer not consumer'. They attempt to provide models that empower the user as an active agent within the information space. With Communiculture, Futurefarmers, apply this formula to the development of Web communities. Avatars unique to each user represent their registered presence on simple and reductive continuums that are expressed graphically. Communiculture simply answers two questions for people desiring to interact within a community; Who is interested in X issue and where do you stand (literally) on this issue? If I enter a continuum I may find my avatar is grouped with a small minority of the whole community I could then see how that minority responded to other issues and, if desired, contact them via the e-mail link provided. Communiculture provides an experiment in developing what Levy might call a 'cinemap'  of a dispersed community, or potential community. It initiates the development of knowledge spaces around particular issues.
In conclusion, it seems safe to presume that for the time being there will be an open Internet space free from the dictates of the economic imperialism of consumer capitalism. The capitalist market space is too disorganized and linear in its cognitive mindset to effectively counter the heterogeneity of the Internet environment that it has mistakenly allowed to prosper. The jostling of competing capitalist interests continues to provide play, and therefore cognitive space, within the infrastructure, and the battle to win the producer as consumer means that as Internet practitioners we maintain some marginal element of power. For the time being these factors ratify the assurance that the Internet treats "such interference as damage, and [will] route around it" . To some extent this will always be the case. There will always be space and infrastructure (perhaps outmoded and inhibitively slow) for the existence of an Internet counterculture. Meikle's book Future Active ends with this proviso citing Geert Lovink's assertion that "soon the net will be a closed mass medium ... but there is still enough time" . By positioning the Internet as the complimentary medium for a shift in the discourse of the human subject, a concept that in symbiosis with the technology provides for their mutual affectation and the possibility of a collective intelligence, this essay demands that Lovink's 'time enough' is wisely used. The stakes are high, not because capitalism can stem the evolution of human cognition (which is inevitable), but because it can, and according to Lovink and Meikle will, impede its development in, and for, the immediate future. If the meta-narrative here presented has any veracity then it is conceivable that by developing tools, tales and algorithms, we can expand the 'qualities and actions possible' by providing plural cognitive spaces beyond the oppressive and monolithic narrative of economic rationalism . The 'still enough time' should not be wasted by standing in opposition as critical consumers but by developing functional models for networked cognitive ecologies that, through the possibilities inherent in their design, subvert any attempt at suppression. In every spare minute we should also remain politically active at a local level. We have a responsibility to ensure that our representative governments serve our better interests and defend our rights to public communications infrastructure, including, perhaps most importantly, network bandwidth.
About the Author
Mat Wall-Smith has worked in new media and film development and production in Sydney, Australia. He is currently studying Media, Communications and Literature at the University of New South Wales. He is primarily interested in the constructive intersection of critical and cultural theory with new media communications practice.
1. N. Negroponte, 1996. Being Digital. Rydlemere: Hodder Headline.
2. W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen, p. 81.
3. G. Meilke, 2002. Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet. Sydney: Pluto Press.
4. M. Toolan, 1988. "Language and Affective Communication in Some Contemporary Irish Writers," In: M. Kenneally (editor). Cultural Contexts and Literary Idioms. Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire: Colin Smythe, pp. 138-153.
5. J. Derrida, 1978. Writing and Difference. London: Routledge, p. 352.
6. I openly declare my ideologically based assumption that the public infrastructure is most appropriately left in the hands of the public.
7. W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen, pp. 31-77.
8. W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen, p. 34.
9. Ibid., p.34.
10. Ibid., pp. 78-116.
11. W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen, p. 34.
12. Ibid. p. 10.
13. J. Derrida, 1978. Writing and Difference. London: Routledge, p. 352.
14. N.K. Hayles, 1999. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 84.
15. F. Guattari, 1995. Chaosmosis: An Ethico-aesthetic Paradigm. Translated by P. Bains and J. Pefanis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 91.
16. Hayles, op.cit., p. 78.
17. B. McHale, 1987. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Methuen, pp. 3-12.
18. Hayles, op.cit., p. 352.
19. W.J. Ong, op.cit., p. 44.
20. W.J. Ong, op.cit., p. 12.
21. J. Derrida, 1978. Writing and Difference. London: Routledge, pp. 351-377.
22. W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen, p. 12.
23. P. Levy, 2001. "Collective Intelligence" extract, In: D. Trend, (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 257.
24. J. Derrida, op.cit., p. 352.
25. J. Derrida, op.cit., p. 354.
26. W.J. Ong, op.cit., p. 40.
27. B. McHale, op.cit., pp. 26-36.
28. Ibid., p. 25.
29. P. Weibel, 1996. "The World as Interface," In: T. Druckery (editor). Electronic Culture. New York, Aperture; reprinted in MDCM3102 Digital Aesthetics Course Reader, p. 115.
30. F. Jameson, 1991. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, p. 56.
31. P. Levy, 1999. Collective Intelligence. Translated by R. Bononno. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books, p. 14.
32. P. Levy, 2001. "Collective Intelligence" extract, In: D. Trend (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 257.
33. G. Lovink, 2002. "Rewriting/rewiring the world: The Internet as a space for new transnational writings," Presentation at the Sydney Writers's Festival, 30 May 2002, Bangarra Dance Theater, Syndney.
34. P. Levy, 1998. Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. Translated by R. Bononno. New York, Plenum, p. 138.
35. The Futurefarmers Collective, at http://www.futurefarmers.com, accessed 10/06/02.
36. P. Levy, 2001. "Collective Intelligence" extract, In: D. Trend (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, pp. 245-251.
37. P. Levy, 1998. Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. Translated by R. Bononno. New York, Plenum., p. 122.
38. Ibid. p. 141.
39. Independent Media Centre Sydney, Indymedia, at http://sydney.indymedia.org/IndyMedia, accessed 10 June 2002.
40. G. Meilke, 2002. Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet. Sydney: Pluto Press, p. 9.
41. K.N. Hayles, 2001. "The Seductions of Cyberspace," In: D. Trend, (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 309.
42. The Futurefarmers Collective, at http://www.futurefarmers.com, accessed 10 June 2002.
43. A. Franceschini and J. On, "They Rule," http://www.theyrule.net, accessed 10 June 2002.
44. N.K. Hayles, 1999. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 78.
45. A. Franceschini and J. On, "Communiculture," http://www.communiculture.org, accessed 10 June 2002.
46. The Futurefarmers Collective, "Stimuli for Wonder," http://www.futurefarmers.com/stimuli/index.html.
47. P. Levy, 2001. "Collective Intelligence" extract, In: D. Trend (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, pp. 206-207.
48. G. Meilke, 2002. Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet. Sydney: Pluto Press, p. 173.
49. Ibid. p. 176.
50. P. Levy, 2001. "Collective Intelligence" extract, In: D. Trend (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, p. 186.
J. Derrida 1978. "Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences," In Writing and Difference. London: Routledge, pp. 351-370.
F. Guattari, 1995. Chaosmosis: An Ethico-aesthetic Paradigm. Translated by P. Bains and J. Pefanis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.A. Franceschini and J. On, "Communiculture," http://www.communiculture.org, accessed 10 June 2002.
A. Franceschini and J. On, "They Rule," http://www.theyrule.net, accessed 10 June 2002.
N.K. Hayles, 2001. "The Seductions of Cyberspace," In: D. Trend, (editor). Reading Digital Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, pp. 304-321.
N.K. Hayles, 1999. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Independent Media Centre Sydney, Indymedia, at http://sydney.indymedia.org/IndyMedia, accessed 10 June 2002.
F. Jameson, 1991. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.
P. Levy, 1999. Collective Intelligence. Translated by R. Bononno. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books.
P. Levy, 1998. Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. Translated by R. Bononno. New York, Plenum.
B. McHale, 1987. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Methuen.
G. Meilke, 2002. Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet. Sydney: Pluto Press.
N. Negroponte, 1996. Being Digital. Rydlemere: Hodder Headline.
W.J. Ong, 1982. Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen.
M. Toolan, 1988. "Language and Affective Communication in Some Contemporary Irish Writers," In: M. Kenneally (editor). Cultural Contexts and Literary Idioms. Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire: Colin Smythe, pp. 138-153.
P. Weibel, 1996. "The World as Interface," In: T. Druckery (editor). Electronic Culture. New York, Aperture; reprinted in MDCM3102 Digital Aesthetics Course Reader.
Xrefer, at http://www.xrefer.com, accessed 10 June 2002.
Paper received 3 August 2002; accepted 9 August 2002.
Copyright ©2002, First Monday
Copyright ©2002, Mathew Wall-Smith
The Network Society: A Shift in Cognitive Ecologies? by Mathew Wall-Smith
First Monday, volume 7, number 9 (September 2002),