Kazys Varnelis is the director of the Network Architecture Lab at Colombia University Graduate School of Architecture. He wrote Culture in the Age of Networks: A Critical History, a book which comes to terms with the changed conditions in culture that characterize our new, networked age. His thesis is the network is not just a technology, but rather a cultural dominant, because not only does the network connect the world, it reconfigures economy, culture, and even subjectivity.
Network culture, according to Varnelis, is an intensification of conditions that are normally suppressed in modernity and post modernity. Art, media, and the public sphere are all changing, but the change is a process in which existing conditions intensify to entirely new conditions.
Varnelis uses the term “network culture” instead of “metamodernism.”
Network culture is basically a networked information society that follows a system of production, distribution, and consumption of information goods that is characterized by widely distributed non-market products that don’t depend on market strategies to be consumed. “Networked information society” is a term coined by Yochai Benkler. Because of this networked information society, end-users, rather than manufacturers, become responsible for a large amount of product innovation. This concept is called “user innovation” by Eric von Hippel. Thanks to the Internet, the cost of making products available has declined drastically. Because users become responsible for innovation and more people can become producers, network culture leads to greater cultural diversity. Not only does network culture create diversity, it changes the way society thinks. For example, Benkler states that bogs and other modes of participatory nature can lead to a more critical and self-reflective culture, since people are having their work constantly reviewed, and have to think about what they say more.
Web 2.0 is the basis for this new networked culture. Web 2.0 sites allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community. It basically includes web applications that facilitate this participatory information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the Web. Websites that are not Web 2.0 include sites where users, or consumers, are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Web 2.0 is all about user-creation and sharing.
Jean Baudrillard, a French philosopher and cultural theorist associated with postmodernism, was concerned with the way technological advancements affect social change, as well. He is best known for analysis on the modes of mediation and technological communication, so he applies directly to Network Culture and Web 2.0. He was also famous for his concept of Simulation, in which he states all is composed of references, which creates a hyperreality. Baudrillard also felt that the speed at which society moves has destabilized the linearity of history.