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Log In: Making Sense of Social Networks, Skepsi IV(2)

Log In: Making Sense of Social Networks


We are only just into the second decade of the twenty-first century and already the methods of communication which seemed so innovatory when the new century dawned have almost become obsolete before some of us had managed to become familiar with them: social networks are fast replacing emails, chat rooms and instant messaging which were, in their turn, replacing traditional methods of communication and socialising. The speed with which not only text but also images and sound can be communicated world-wide, to millions of people instantaneously in real time is bewildering; the power of social networking to transcend boundaries and flout authority is not a little disturbing. This is illustrated by the way the people of Iran relied on Twitter to communicate to the outside world what was going on in their country, after the Iranian authorities clamped down the international press on 26 June 2009; it is also illustrated by the recent debacle in this country when users of Twitter collectively raised two fingers at a so-called super injunction and the current furore over allegations of mobile phone hacking by journalists.

But social networking is not only about simple communication of information: the last few years have seen the rise of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPGs, which gather together tens of thousands of people who meet in a virtual environment with their avatars, virtual copies of themselves, not simply to socialise in the strict sense of the term but to create new narratives, build a different world, defeat a lingering evil and abide by new physical and moral rules: all from the safe environment of their own desks.

A consideration of the rise of the Internet and social networks and their impact can be treated under a variety of themes which are relevant to disciplines in the Humanities: for example (the list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive):

  • What new forms of narrative do social networks create? Which narratological instruments are to be used to analyse these new forms of writing (e.g. novels written on Twitter, autobiographies in blogs)? How does interactivity in online gaming impact on the relationship of readers with narrative? Does it influence writers?
  • Do social networks influence the average perception of the old media (such as the written words, photography, cinema, etc.)? How do social networks influence the other media?
  • How does the identity of people change when facing the fragmentation of the multiple online avatars that one can assume? Are people alienating themselves in their online identities? Can this teach us anything about the non-virtual world?
  • What are the new forms of morality and ethics that social networks create? Do they influence the non-virtual world? What is the political impact of social networks?
  • What are the ‘post-human’ implications entailed in the hyper-reality of the virtual world?
  • Photographers without a studio, cinematographers without a producer, journalists with no censorship, authors with no publisher: how do social networks allow us to bypass the conventional social and economic rules?

Skepsi, the online interdisciplinary research journal, now in its fourth year and run by post-graduate students of the University of Kent’s School of European Culture and Language, invites articles on the above topic from academic staff, postgraduate students, and independent scholars. Any of the submitted articles selected by the Editorial Board after peer-review will be published in the forth-coming issue of the journal, to be published Winter 2011/12

Articles, which should not exceed 5,000 words, should be sent, together with an abstract of about 250 words and brief biographical details about the author, to:

The deadline for submission of articles is 31 August 2011



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