Internet Society investigates Internet use and its implications for society through insights into the daily experiences of ordinary users. Drawing on an original study of non-professional, 'ordinary' users at home, this book examines how people interpret, domesticate, and creatively appropriate the Internet by integrating it into the projects and activities of their everyday lives.
Chapter One: Conceptualizing User Agency
Conceptualizing User Agency
Enter the User
Before heading into my empirical study of home Internet use, let me introduce the main character of this book – the Internet User – and explicate her or his part in the interplay between technology and society. By the user I mean the ‘ordinary man’1 (de Certeau, 1984) and woman who is not involved as a professional (engineer, programmer, designer, etc.) or decision-maker in the industrial, commercial or service sectors developing computer-networking technology.
Analysts have seen this ordinary user as the person for whom technological innovation arrives last, but who nevertheless represents the ultimate target of innovation's products. Paradoxically, the user is a marginal figure to the technological project as a subject, but has a central place in it ...