Wikipedia is one of the predominant ways in which internet users obtain knowledge about the world. It is also one of the most important mirrors, or augmentations, of the world: it contains representations of all manner of places. However, Wikipedia’s knowledge of the world is characterised by a linguistic inequality. Although it is written in a growing number of languages, some languages are overrepresented and contribute significantly more to Wikipedia’s body of knowledge than others. This deeply affects how the world is represented on Wikipedia, and by whom: it has been shown that for many countries in the Global South, there are more articles written in English than in their respective native languages. As a result, a significant number of people are being excluded from the collective process of knowledge production, solely on the basis of their native language. Who writes these representations of local places, and for which audiences? We present early findings from the first study of Wikipedia’s geolinguistic contours. We investigate to what extent local languages are involved in the process of creating local representations. In a large-scale quantitative analysis across the almost 300 language versions of Wikipedia, we identify regions of the world where local languages such as Armenian, Catalan or Malay are dominant sources of representation for local places, and we contrast these findings with instances where representations are significantly shaped by foreign languages. Where do, and do not, we see significant amounts of local content available in local languages? Where are the most detailed local representations largely written in foreign languages, intended for foreign audiences? And what factors can explain this?
This paper analyses the constructed reality TV show Made in Chelsea as a vision of a post-work world. Specifically I situate the programme as providing a more realistic vision of a post-work economy than that set out by left futurists advocating for fully automated luxury communism. Through an analysis of the depiction of work and play within the show it becomes apparent that any apparent boundaries between the two are rapidly collapsing, with both subsumed under the auspices of performative authenticity. I argue that increasing automation will more likely lead to fully automated luxury communicative capitalism, unless left futurists acknowledge the affective aspects of social media use.
Contemporary images of desirable work (for example at gaming companies or at one of the tech giants) foregrounds creativity and incorporates and idealises elements of play. Simultaneously, becoming one of the best in some particular leisure activity can require many long hours of hard, demanding work. Between on the one hand work and on the other hand leisure and play, we enter the domain of games and sports. Most classical sports originally developed from physical practices of moving the human body and these practices were, through standardization, organization and rationalization, turned into sports. Many sport researchers, (sport) historians and (sport) sociologists have pointed out that sports have gone through a process of “sportification”. Cross-country skiing is an example of an activity that has gone through a historical process of sportification, over time becoming progressively more managed and regulated. Computer games are today following a similar trajectory and have gone from being a leisure activity to becoming a competitive activity, “esports”, with professional players, international competitions, and live streams that are watched by tens of millions of viewers.
Super Mario Maker (2015) and its sequel Super Mario Maker 2 (2019) have enabled a near-unprecedented amount of user-created level design, with well over seven million stages created to date by players from around the world. Within this vast library of levels, those built according to “troll” or “kaizo” level design rationales - which expect impressive feats of physical ability, puzzle-solving, psychological deduction, and emotional calm from their players - have become especially infamous and lasting. Drawing on literature around “productive play”, high-difficulty “masocore” game design, and gaming as a craft, this paper examines the playful work required to build and upload levels of this sort, and the laborious play that committed Super Mario Maker Players engage in when actually attempting to play them. In the first case, I study how designers create these sorts of levels, the meticulous attention to detail and the hypothesising about player mental states this requires, and how new norms have been created by these designers which reframe Super Mario Maker play. In the second case, I look at the players of these challenges, the sorts of enjoyment or satisfaction they get from these gruelling levels, the skills required to triumph over them, and the thin line between “good” and “bad” kaizo and troll levels. The analysis particularly focuses on the generation of dialogues between designers and players, and the deep emotional and intellectual appeal of such exchanges. The paper concludes by summarising how Super Mario Maker shows us the motivations to both produce and consume extremely challenging gaming content, and the playful work and laborious play required to construct and enable these experiences.
Following the materialist approaches to contemporary digital memory- making, this article explores how unequal access to memory production in videogames is determined along economic and cultural lines. Based on semi-structured qualitative interviews with different European, Asian and North American historical game developers, I make the case for how materialist and cultural aspects of videogame development reinforce existing mnemonic hegemony and in turn how this mnemonic hegemony determines access to the production of memory- making potentials that players of videogames activate and negotiate. My interview findings illustrate how individual workers do not necessarily intend to reproduce received systems of power and hegemony, and instead how certain cultural and material relations tacitly motivate and/or marginalise workers in the videogame industries to reproduce hegemonic power relations in cultural memory across race, class and gender. Finally, I develop the argument that access to cultural production networks such as the games industry constitutes important factors that need to be taken seriously in research on cultural memory and game studies. Thus, my article investigates global power relationships, political economy, colonial legacies and cultural hegemony within the videogame industry, and how these are instantiated in individual instances of game developers.
In this paper, mobile communication is examined in the context of forced migration from an affective perspective using the case study of an informal migrant camp that was established in 2015 at Budapest’s Keleti train station. Drawing on concepts of migration, affect and media, I examine various news reports and social media commentary about the camp as well as the makeshift Wi-Fi network that was established there in relation to Hungarian populist politics. I posit the station as a site of contestation between migrants, the Hungarian government and non-governmental actors that speaks to the politicisation of communication technology. The conclusion points to how mobile communication provides a way for forced migrants to create a heterotopic space in extreme conditions as the migrant community is affectively moored by media practices that enable feelings of familiarity and security. These practices not only constitute a kind of refuge for migrants but also offer a form of refusal, however small, towards the shaming and inertia they experience.
Older ICT non-users are often considered vulnerable and potentially socially and digitally excluded group. More recently age-based digital divides have been questioned by scholars aiming to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between old age and technology non-use. Following this path, this article takes the experiences of being an older non- and/or seldom-ICT user and their potential exclusion as point of departure to talk about ideas and understandings of digital technologies and social change. The goal is to empirically explore and understand how the ideas and experiences of ICT nonusage are shared, and negotiated, among older non- and seldom-ICT users. The lived experience of different waves of mediatisation is a specific position in the life course allowing older people to reflect back upon changes prompted by technological development. The empirical data consist of six focus group interviews conducted in Sweden in 2017 with 30 older (65+) non- and seldom-users of ICT between the ages of 68 and 88 years. The results of the analysis show that by describing the ideas and experiences of non- and/or seldom-ICT use, the informants offer a broader reflection on social change and an ambivalent picture of social acceleration. They agree namely that digitalisation is an inevitable process but argue simultaneously that several practices connected to it are not necessarily making our lives easier. Participants experience the socio-technological development in the past 30 years as a very fast one, while adjustment to it deems to occur in a rather slow and weary way. It could be suggested that the nexus of old age on the one hand and non/seldom-ICT usage on the other, as well as their position in life, offer a perspective that can challenge the idea that technological development, ICT access and use are synonymous with efficiency, convenience and inclusion.
At the beginning of the 21st century, we co-edited a book called Technology and In/equality, Questioning the information Society. In that book, we focused on access and control of media technology, education and skills with a particular focus on gender and global economic development. The editors and contributors were all committed to approaching teaching and research about digital technologies and society from an interdisciplinary perspective. In this article, we reflect on how the debates about digital inequalities have developed over the past 20 years, and on our current understanding of “technology” and “in/equality,” the key terms in the title of the book. In this article, we examine what has stayed the same and what has changed, through the lens of gender. We argue that while digital technologies have clearly changed, inequalities have persisted. Contrary to popular belief, access is still an issue for the global south, as well as for marginalised communities throughout the world. We also show how gender inequalities and hierarchies are reproduced in digital spaces, demonstrating that even where women have equal access, possibilities for discrimination and oppression remain. We conclude by arguing that there remain important tasks for scholars of technology and new media, namely to monitor the material and symbolic significance of new technological developments as they emerge and to examine the ways in which they may reflect and re-produce social inequalities.