Dominique Cardon

« Internet et la représentation du commun » [FR]

(“Internet and the Representation of the Common”)


Abstract: Web-based practices have given new strength and vitality to the idea of the common, doing-in-common and community. This presentation means to retrace the trajectory of this figure in the history of digital practices by going back to the political forms initiated by the pioneers of the network, which sought to oppose the common to the general interest. Wikipedia, free software and networked communities’ self-organized forms have fostered original modes of construction and collective appropriation of the common good. They have also established political forms set to watch over common goods, distribute meritocratic authority within the community, and guarantee its accessibility to all. We would like to show how this form of representation of the common has rested upon an understanding of the “intelligence of crowds” that refers back to two universes of meaning – one substantial, the other procedural. We will attempt to offer a sociological interpretation of the way in which these ideals have met with contemporary societies’ forms of individuation and have been put to the test by the spread of Internet usage on a mass scale. The collective forms with which individuals identify are expected to be devoid of substance (be it programs, orientations, ideological ambitions, a principle from which to frame or select information…) and rather be shaped on the basis of public, verifiable and controllable procedures. At the same time, individuals grant themselves a monopoly over the substantial definition of their centres of interest, but also of what constitutes for them the general interest.


Bio: Dominique Cardon is a sociologist at the Orange Labs Laboratory of Uses and Associate Professor at the Université de Marne la Vallée. His work looks into the uses of the Internet and transformations in digital public space. His recent research focuses on the Internet’s social networks, forms of online identity, amateur self-production and the analysis of forms of cooperation and governance in large online collectives. He is presently conducting a sociological analysis of the algorithms that allow for the organization of information on the web. He has directed the publication of special issues of the journal Réseaux on “Internet’s Social Networks” (No. 152, Dec. 2008), “Web 2.0” (No. 154, Mar. 2009), “A Politics of Algorithms” (No. 177, Apr. 2013) and “Digital Methods” (No. 188, 2015). He has published La Démocratie Internet, Paris: Seuil/La République des Idées, 2010, with Fabien Granjon; Mediactivistes, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po’, 2010 (2nd expanded edition: 2013) and La Société des Calculs, Paris: Seuil, 2015 (forthcoming).