Books

My dearest publication baby is Internet Society: The Internet in Everyday Life (2005, Sage). It was a formative work that wrote me as a scholar as much as I wrote it. I am still walking the path that I charted for myself in that book and still find it exciting and full of surprises. Everyday life lived with and through digital media remains my preoccupation and passion.

How Canadians Communicate Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 were book projects led by my colleagues David Taras to which I contributed as co-organizer and co-editor.

  • Internet Society:
    The Internet in Everyday Life

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  • Internet Society:
    The Internet in Everyday Life
    (Chinese)

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  • How Canadians Communicate

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  • How Canadians Communicate II:
    Media, Globalization and Identity

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I have had the good fortune to see my work published in journals that I read and respect a lot. I am grateful to the editors who have invited or accepted my contributions in some brilliant edited collections. Students and colleagues who have comments or need copies of my publications are welcome to write to me.

New Media and Civil Society in Bulgaria

Europe-Asia Studies, 2012

This essay examines the new forms of civic and political engagement that the increasing accessibility of internet-based media has precipitated in the Bulgarian context. It discusses the results of three case studies which focus respectively on online forum discussions of a significant political event; a campaign of eco-protests; and the activism emerging from a website and forum dedicated to motherhood. The essay argues that new media have brought civic and political issues and the possibility to deliberate and act on them into the everyday lives of Bulgarians. As a result, the voice of Bulgarian civil society has grown stronger and has been able to penetrate the sphere of formal politics, sometimes with important consequences.


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Digital Citizenship and Activism: Questions of Power and Participation

Special Issue of JeDEM, 2012

With Jakob Svensson and Marko Skoric

The eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government (JeDEM) is a peer-reviewed, Open Access journal (ISSN: 2075-9517) published twice a year. It addresses theory and practice in the areas of eDemocracy and Open Government as well as eGovernment, eParticipation, and eSociety. JeDEM publishes ongoing and completed research, case studies and project descriptions that are selected after a rigorous blind review by experts in the field.


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Reconfiguring the Mediapolis: New Media and Civic Agency

New Media and Society, 2012

The summer of 2007 marked the growing visibility of blogs and bloggers in the Bulgarian public sphere. A case in point was a spontaneous civic protest spurred by a decision of the Supreme Administrative Court to strip a territory in the south-east of Bulgaria (Strandja Mountain) of its status as a protected natural reserve. Young people and environmentalist groups went out in the streets to challenge the decision, their actions being organized and reported by blogs, websites and text messages. These brief but centrally placed and well-attended civic actions compelled not only the mass media, but also parliamentarians to put the issue on their agendas. This article analyzes the relationship between media messages and street action as well as the dynamics of inter-media exchanges and the profiles of the actors behind them.


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Web 2.0 Technologies of the Self

Philosophy & Technology, 2012

With Georgia Gaden

Although no scholarly consensus exists on the issue, the claim that a substantive reconfiguration of the Internet has occurred in the beginning of the 2000s has settled firmly in public common sense. The label tentatively chosen for the new turn in the medium’s evolution is Web 2.0. The developments constituting this turn have been contemplated from different perspectives in technical and business publications (O’Reilly 2005), in treatises on “convergence” or “participatory” culture (Jenkins 2006; Jenkins et al. 2009), and could be usefully interrogated by means of political economy concepts such as the “social factory” and “free labor” (Terranova 2004). Marked, or rather symbolically constructed, by these discursive pickets lies a field of practice that the members of the participatory culture, the “produsers” (Bruns 2008) of open journalism, blogs, social networking sites and other characteristic Web 2.0 applications inhabit and animate with their everyday thought, decision making and action. This paper undertakes a theoretical exploration of the user practices emerging and consolidating around the new technological and organizational models making up Web 2.0. It is informed by a qualitative study of bloggers and Facebook users conducted through focus group methodology, although the concrete empirical data are not presented here. Rather, the analysis employs the concept of “technologies of the self” by Foucault (1988) as a heuristic device in order to situate Web 2.0 use, first, in a long history of culturally evolved forms of self-constitution and, second, in a complex matrix of relationships with other types of technologies, namely, those of production, sign systems and power. This conceptual choice, we argue, furnishes a study of Web 2.0 use, which holds in balance its liberatory potential and its susceptibility to new forms of domination, rationalization and commodification.


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Subactivism: Lifeworld and Politics in the Age of the Internet

The Information Society, 2009

The potential of the Internet to enhance civic participation has been examined in numerous theoretical and empirical studies. This article concentrates specifically on the role the medium plays in affording and supporting new forms of making sense of public issues and getting involved in civic activities that evolve at the level of everyday life. Characteristically, these forms do not square neatly with elevated notions of political and civic participation. Their significance easily escapes recognition. Building on existing conceptualizations such as those of “life politics” (Giddens, 1991),“sub-politics” (Beck, 1997) and “the political” Mouffe (2005), and “democratic rationalization” (Feenberg, 1999), the concept of subactivism is proposed with the objective to expand received notions of what does and should count as civic engagement.


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Making Sense of Broadband in Rural Alberta, Canada

Observatorio (OBS*), 2008

This article stems from a collaborative research initiative that examined the social adoption of the SuperNet, an Alberta government infrastructure project designed to provide high-speed, broadband access to public facilities, to businesses and residences in Alberta communities. The aim is to explore how rural community members made sense of the SuperNet as a communication technology in the context of their practices and perceived needs and against the background of their existing experience of Internet use. The theoretical underpinnings of the approach taken in the research derive from social constructivism and critical theory of technology. Members of rural communities in their capacity as current and/or potential users of the SuperNet were construed as relevant actors in the social shaping of the network. In the process of the research it became clear that these activities themselves constituted an important stream in the meaning-making and hence social shaping of the SuperNet. The article addresses the question of what economic, political and cultural influences of a national (and provincial) character may be responsible for the observed developments. It also discusses the specifics of rural appropriation of broadband in Alberta and the conditions and outcomes of the creativity of rural users.


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Becoming an Internet User in Bulgaria: Notes on a Tangled Journey

Media Studies/ Studia Medioznawcze, 2005

This paper stems from a project that seeks to implement a historically informed, broad-based ethnographic approach to the evolution of the Internet as a communication medium in the societies of Central and Eastern Europe. The findings of an intensive field study carried out in Bulgaria form the main focus of the paper. The paper analyses the specific use practices of different categories of users in the context of the circumstances characterizing the penetration of the Internet in Bulgaria. In that country, a major driving force behind the adoption of the Internet is the desire to integrate into the "developed world" educationally, economically and culturally. One of the most interesting observations to be discussed is the existence of two distinct cultures surrounding Internet adoption and use - the official and the grassroots. The official one is defined by administrative goals and efforts to meet the standards set by the European Union despite numerous national challenges of political, organizational and technical nature. The grassroots culture, on the other hand, is vibrant, subversive, resourceful and devious. It draws on the abundance of computer expertise among Bulgarian professionals and youth in building its own, original, enclaves in cyberspace.


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Virtual Community: No ‘Killer Implication’

New Media and Society, 2004

With Andrew Feenberg

As users of computer networks have become more active in producing their own electronic records, in the form of transcripts of online discussions, ethicists have attempted to interpret this new situation in terms of earlier models of personal data protection. But this transference results in unprecedented problems for researchers. This paper examines some of the central dichotomies and paradoxes in the debate on research ethics online in the context of the concrete study of a virtual community that we carried out. We argue that alienation, not privacy, is the actual core of the ethical problems of virtual community research. While practically everybody is allowed and often welcome to join online communities (which undermines the claim to privacy), most participants would agree that members and visitors are not authorized to use, or ‘harvest,’ or sell the product of the group communication. To do that, they would be expected to ask for permission preferably before the content has been produced, thus granting participants’ right to control their own product. This "on-alienation principle" should be the basis of emergent social conventions in cyberspace. It would apply to researchers as to anyone else. With certain types of research, we suggest, cyberspace provides unique opportunities for empowering subjects by involving them as contributors in the research project.


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Virtual Togetherness: An Everyday Life Perspective

Media, Culture & Society, 2003

This article examines the place and value of online relationships and interactions in Internet users' everyday lives. The analysis is based on an in-depth study of the practices of 21 domestic users of the Internet in Vancouver, Canada, focusing on their engagement with electronic forums. The main questions are: Why do users participate in these forums? What does it mean to them? How does it reflect on the public understanding of the Internet? The article offers a typology of different forms of online involvement with others on the Internet. In this light, it questions concepts, such as `virtual community,' and dichotomies - real versus virtual, public versus private - framing the theoretical debate about the social significance of the Internet as a new communication medium.


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Community Technology and Democratic Rationalization

The Information Society, 2002

With Andrew Feenberg

The objective of this paper is to explore questions of human agency and democratic process in the technical sphere through the example of "virtual community." The formation of relatively stable long-term group associations--community in the broad sense of the term--is the scene on which a large share of human development occurs. As such it is a fundamental human value mobilizing diverse ideologies and sensitivities. The promise of realizing this value in a new domain naturally stirs up much excitement among optimistic observers of the Internet. At the same time, the eagerness to place hopes for community in a technical system flies in the face of an influential intellectual tradition of technology criticism. This eagerness seems even more naive in the light of the recent commercialization of so much Internet activity. Despite the widespread skepticism, we believe the growth of virtual community is significant for an inquiry into the democratization of technology.We show that conflicting answers to the central question of the present theoretical debate--Is community possible on computer networks?--generalize from particular features of systems and software prevalent at different stages in the development of computer networking. We conclude that research should focus instead on how to design computer networks to better support community activities and values.


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Involving the Virtual Subject

Ethics and Information Technology, 2001

With Andrew Feenberg

As users of computer networks have become more active in producing their own electronic records, in the form of transcripts of online discussions, ethicists have attempted to interpret this new situation in terms of earliermodels of personal data protection. But this transference results in unprecedented problems for researchers. This paper examines some of the central dichotomies and paradoxes in the debate on research ethics online in the context of the concrete study of a virtual community that we carried out. We argue that alienation, not privacy, is the actual core of the ethical problems of virtual community research.While practically everybody is allowed and often welcome to join online communities (which undermines the claim to privacy),most participants would agree that members and visitors are not authorized to use, or ‘harvest,’ or sell the product of the group communication. To do that, they would be expected to ask for permission preferably before the content has been produced, thus granting participants’ right to control their own product. This ‘non-alienation principle’ should be the basis of emergent social conventions in cyberspace. It would apply to researchers as to anyone else. With certain types of research, we suggest, cyberspace provides unique opportunities for empowering subjects by involving them as contributors in the research project.


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The New Media Landscape in Bulgaria

Canadian Journal of Communication, 1995

This article situates the dynamics of the mass media transformations in post-totalitarian Bulgaria in the context of the political and economic conditions specific to the country. After an initial period of proliferation of numerous party and independent publications, the highly liberalized press market has entered a process of concentration. The political parties represented in parliament have established themselves as the only decision-making authority as far as the functioning of the national radio and television institutions and licensing of private broadcasters are concerned.


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Bringing up BG-Mamma: Organized Producers between Community and Commerce

Producing the Internet: Critical Perspectives of Social Media, 2013

Edited by Tobias Olson

When one mentions bg-mamma in a conversation with a Bulgarian friend, it is very likely that one’s counterpart will respond: “they almost ruined a bank”, or “they organized a concert”, “they stopped proposed GMO legislation”, or “their site comes up on top, no matter what search you enter in google.bg”. These are all simple and truthful statements, but who the subject implied by the “they” actually is remains rather misty. After all, bg-mamma.com is a web site,1 a virtual space with fluid, fluctuating and, for the most part, anonymous population, one of those online aggregations of nicks, posts and links that typically stays circumscribed within the nebulous realm of cyberspace. How does it happen then that actions and effects transpiring in the real – physical and social – world are attributed to a URL? What or who does this URL stand for?


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The Internet in Everyday Life: Exploring the Tenets and Contributions of Diverse Approaches

The Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies, 2011

Edited by Mia Consalvo and Charles Ess

The Internet in everyday life is a newly emergent continent on the map of Internet
research that has not been properly explored and charted yet. At the same time,
its contours and substantive make-up seem distinct enough to warrant a special
designation. The elements that distinguish the Internet in everyday life from its
boisterous Internet research kin can be captured by several key words: use, users,
offline context and embeddedness. First and foremost, this means that researchers
in this area manifest avid interest in Internet use performed by ordinary people
as one among their many different activities and related to the broader horizons
of their lives. Secondly, this means attention to the social and cultural environment
in which Internet use takes place with its different levels and variations:
personal, domestic, organizational, national, etc. In other words, the user is not
perceived exclusively as an online persona involved in different pursuits in
cyberspace, but as a physical actor who sits in a chair and stares at a screen for
a variety of time stretches and purposes. Thirdly, the interconnectedness between
Internet use and numerous other practices and relations is emphasized in this
approach. For some authors (Haythornthwaite & Wellman, 2002; Ward, 2005)
looking at the Internet as part of everyday life is a marker of the second age of
the medium or of a second-generation research that breaks away from the early
euphoria surrounding everything “cyber” and the effervescent speculations about
how the Internet will transform society as we know it.


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Impatient on the Net: Exploring the Genres of Internet Use for Health

Configuring Health Consumers: Health Work and the Imperative of Personal Responsibility, 2010

Edited by Roma Harris, Nadine Wathen, and Sally Wyatt

In this book, contributors unpack these discourses and discuss their implications for relationships between patients and their health care providers, including the increasingly contested boundaries of medical 'expertize'. A distinctive contribution of this book is to bring together recent discussions about health 'consumerism' and self-care with developments in the sociology of work to make visible the restructuring of health-related labour, particularly emerging forms of health 'work' that are increasingly expected of private citizens.


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Conceptualizing User Agency

Practices: Interaction, Identity, Culture. New Media, Volume 4, 2008

Edited by Sonia Livingstone and Leah Lievrouw

In the past 20 years, ‘new media’ has emerged as one of the most dynamic research fronts in media and communication, addressing the diversity and proliferation of new information and communication technologies and their social contexts. This growing field is both international and transdisciplinary. The editors have mined a rich collection of published material covering the historical, economic, social and behavioral issues at stake to trace the development and implications of new media.


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The (Wo)man on the Net: Exploring the New Social Distribution of Knowledge

Media, Knowledge, Education, 2008

Edited by Theo Hug

Book info


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Domestication Running Wild: From the Moral Economy of the Household to the Mores of a Culture

Domestication of Media and Technology, 2006

Edited by Thomas Berker, Maren Hartmann, Yves Punie, and Katie Ward

This book provides an overview of a key concept in media and technology studies: domestication. Theories around domestication shed light upon the process in which a technology changes its status from outrageous novelty to an aspect of everyday life which is taken for granted. The contributors collect past, current and future applications of the concept of domestication, critically reflect on its theoretical legacy, and offer comments about further development.


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Bulgarian Online Forums as Carnival: Popular Political Forms and New Media

Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication, 2008

Edited by Fay Sudweeks and Charles Ess

The biennial conference series on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication provides one of the most significant international forums for research on how diverse culture attitudes and communication preferences shape the implementation and use of information and communication technologies. The conference series brings together scholars from around the globe who provide diverse perspectives, both in terms of the specific culture(s) they highlight in their presentations and discussions, and in terms of the discipline(s) through which they approach the conference themes.


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Human Values in the Design and Use of the Internet: Groupware for Community

ETHICOMP, 2001

With Andrew Feenberg

Edited by Terrell Ward Bynum, Henryk Krawczyk, Simon Rogerson, Stanislaw Szejko, and Bogdan Wizniewski

This was fifth conference in the ETHICOMP series which addressed the social and ethical impacts of information and communication technologies. The conference was held at the Technical University of Gdansk in Poland on 18-20 June 2001.


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Human Values in the Design and Use of the Internet: Groupware for Community

3rd International Conference on Uses and Services in Telecommunications, 2001

With Andrew Feenberg

The International Conference on the Uses and Services in Telecommunication is an international forum of interdisciplinary exchange for researchers in social and cognitive sciences, and various actors in the field professionally interested in this issue of new practices and behaviours, whether from businesses or representatives of users or the public sector, etc.


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Collaborative Meaning-Making in Computer Conferences: A Socio-Cultural Perspective

Ed-Media & Ed-Telecom, 1998

Edited by T. Ottman and I. Tomek

The EdMedia World Conference on Educational Media and Technology is an international conference, organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). This annual conference serves as a multi-disciplinary forum for the discussion and exchange of information on the research, development, and applications on all topics related to multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications/distance education.


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The Discourse of On-Line Learning: Cognitive and Interactive Dimensions

Ed-Media & Ed-Telecom, 1997

With Linda Hariasim

Edited by T. Muldner & T. C. Reeves

The EdMedia World Conference on Educational Media and Technology is an international conference, organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). This annual conference serves as a multi-disciplinary forum for the discussion and exchange of information on the research, development, and applications on all topics related to multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications/distance education.


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