New Media and the Prolongations of Urban Environments

Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies November 2010 16: 471-487, doi:10.1177/1354856510375528


The article addresses the relationships between new media and public urban environments. It advances an anti-reductionist argument, which seeks to understand the material and the immaterial as two irreducible yet intertwined layers or levels of the social sphere. In order to do so, the notion of prolongation is proposed. This notion, together with those of territory and visibility, is explicitly designed to escape both reductionist monism (material as immaterial or vice versa) and dualism (material versus immaterial). The hypothesis is that the environments created and edited by the new media can be conceptualized and studied as specific visibility regimes of urban territoriality. The use of the concepts of territory, prolongation, and visibility also leads to deexceptionalizing the new media, insofar as new media are explained as a specific techno-social configuration, determined by a pattern of the same analytical variables that are at stake in the social sphere at large.