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Title: Hacking the Web 2.0 : user agency and the role of hackers as computational mediators
Author: Rota, Andrea
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 3030
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis studies the contested reconfigurations of computational agency within the domain of practices and affordances involved in the use of the Internet in everyday life (here labelled lifeworld Internet), through the transition of the Internet to a much deeper reliance on computation than at any previous stage. Computational agency is here considered not only in terms of capacity to act enabled (or restrained) by the computational layer but also as the recursive capacity to reconfigure the computational layer itself, therefore in turn affecting one’s own and others’ computational agency. My research is based on multisited and diachronic ethnographic fieldwork: an initial (2005–2007) autoethnographic case study focused on the negotiations of computational agency within the development of a Web 2.0 application, later (2010–2011) fieldwork interviews focused on processes through which users make sense of the increasing pervasiveness of the Internet and of computation in everyday life, and a review (2010–2015) of hacker discourses focused on tracing the processes through which hackers constitute themselves as a recursive public able to inscribe counter–narratives in the development of technical form and to reproduce itself as a public of computational mediators with capacity to operate at the intersection of the technical and the social. By grounding my enquiry in the specific context of the lifeworlds of individual end users but by following computational agency through global hacker discourses, my research explores the role of computation, computational capacity and computational mediators in the processes through which users ‘hack’ their everyday Internet environments for practical utility, or develop independent alternatives to centralized Internet services as part of their contestation of values inscribed in the materiality of mainstream Internet.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science