Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1. Cultural context around a definition

The transformation of our lives, thanks to the “digital revolution” over recent decades, is something challenging to talk about in general terms, without sounding irremediably naive.

Indeed, the successive appearance on the mass market of such technologies as the personal computer (PC) in the late 1970s, mobile telecommunication networks in the 1980s, and, as the most prominent aspect of the public Internet, the World Wide Web in the early 1990s has drastically changed our relationship with space, time, and access to information. As is well known, this addition of technological revolutions simply built a new paradigm in the way we behave and live together in the global village. Very few areas of human activity could be considered not to have been impacted by the possibilities offered by the digital era: retrieving information, communicating with friends, and purchasing goods on a marketplace are some of the most trivial examples of the extent to which our daily life has been drastically modified within one human generation.

Such means of communication also have unexpected consequences in the area of sociology. Blogs, forums, “walls” of social networks – these various forms of the Web 2.0 – have led people to become gradually the “online script-writers” of their own existence, thereby giving to private events of their existence an exposure hitherto unseen with such spontaneity.

In line with this, the multiple existing ...

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