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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 15: The Intimacies of Technologies in Sharing Practices Online (Jenny Kennedy)


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The Intimacies of Technologies in Sharing Practices Online

Jenny Kennedy


Attending to the affordances of digital technologies is an important step in acknowledging the materiality of technoculture. Digital technologies are significant because of their symbolic values in material culture. Yet, as David Beer (2012) states, we need to attend to more than the functionality of technologies, we need to also consider the materiality of such devices and how people form attachments to them. He suggests thinking about media as “objects that are intimately incorporated into routine bodily practices” (p. 362).

The discussion is drawn from qualitative data gathered on how sharing practices are undertaken in relation to digital technologies in everyday life. The methods employed included diaries of sharing practices and semi-structured interviews with 22 users of social media platforms. All the interviews were conducted in Melbourne, Australia, between 2012 and 2013. The emphasis in this research was on ordinary, everyday experiences of sharing as detailed in the sharing diaries and elaborated during interviews. This is significant for contributing an understanding of sharing framed through materiality. This attention to materiality is further emphasized through the sharing diary which locates sharing in the everyday.

Intimate Interfaces

A particular conversation during my interviews demonstrates the centrality of the materiality of technoculture to sharing practices. As Darryl talked me through his sharing diary I noticed that the logged activities show he often receives...

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