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Friday, October 12 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Forms of Materiality in Digital Communities

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Digital objects tend to proliferate in the everyday experience of Internet users—files, apps, badges and so on—while some of their analog counterparts tend to gradually disappear. But they have by no means eclipsed the importance of tangible objects in socio-cultural practices, as shown by the sustained interest for making, amateur craftsmanship, collecting, etc. The circulation of _objects_ remains at the heart of the social dynamics of communities and subcultures. What may constitute an emerging phenomenon is the mixed “modes of existence” of these circulating objects and their shifting forms of materiality, between digital representations (“dematerialization”), physical prints (“materialization”) or copies (“rematerialization”), sometimes with radically altered material features like substance or size—a process we propose to call “transmaterialization”. How participants in digitally supported communities of practice make sense of these shifting materialities of objects? How do they structure and guide their actions, and how do they shape social norms and values regarding work, ownership, and authenticity? This roundtable brings new considerations to the ongoing theoretical debate about the relevance of an analytic divide between the digital and the material. The speakers will ignite the discussion by sharing some insights from multisited ethnographic research projects on digitally supported communities of practice: some are international online communities (one centred on sewing skills, another on shell collecting) while others are local, rooted in physical places (an art-oriented makerspace based in Quebec City and three fab labs based in Central and Western Africa). Speakers: Guillaume Latzko-Toth, chair (Laval University, Canada); Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou (Laval University, Canada); Florence Millerand (University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada); Johan Söderberg (University of Gothenburg, Sweden).


Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8