Caring About the Plumbing: On the Importance of Architectures in Social Studies of Peer-to-Peer TechnologyReport as inadecuate




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1 CSI i3 - Centre de Sociologie de l-Innovation i3

Abstract : This article discusses the relevance, for scholars working on social studies of network media, of -caring about the plumbing- to paraphrase Bricklin, 2001, i.e., addressing elements of application architecture and design as an integral part of their subject of study. In particular, by discussing peer-to-peer P2P systems as a technical networking model and a dynamic of social interaction that are inextricably intertwined, the article introduces how the perspective outlined above is particularly useful to adopt when studying a promising area of innovation: that of -alternative- or -legitimate- Verma, 2004 applications of P2P networks to search engines, social networks, video streaming and other Internet-based services. The article seeks to show how the Internet-s current trajectories of innovation increasingly suggest that particular forms of architectural distribution and decentralization or their lack, impact specific procedures, practices and uses. Architectures should be understood an -alternative way of influencing economic systems- van Schewick, 2010, indeed, the very fabric of user behavior and interaction. Most notably, the P2P -alternative- to Internet-based services shows how the status of every Internet user as a consumer, a sharer, a producer and possibly a manager of digital content is informed by, and shapes in return, the technical structure and organization of the services she has access to: their mandatory passage points, places of storage and trade, required intersections. In conclusion, this article is a call to study the technical architecture of networking applications as a -relational property- Star & Ruhleder, 1996, and integral part of human organization. It suggests that such an approach provides an added value to the study of those communities, groups and practices that, by leveraging socio-technical dynamics of distribution, decentralization, collaboration and peer production, are currently questioning more traditional or institutionalized models of content creation, search and sharing.

Keywords : Peer-to-peer architecture innovation Internet-based services distribution





Author: Francesca Musiani -

Source: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/



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