Platfospheres and sociocultural explosion of Web 2.0: The commercial centre of the digital semiosphere
Keywords:Juri Lotman, semiosphere, social media algorithms, digital culture, economy
This paper explores digital culture with the tools of cultural semiotics in general, and then employing the semiosphere model in particular. Web 2.0 platforms are taken as the major cultural dispositive of our time, as the most representative way in which the internet shapes digital culture. Most of the global population is currently immersed in digital culture. In the first part of the paper the striking similarities between Web 2.0 platforms and the semiosphere are explored and equivalences between the elements of the classic (Lotman’s) semiotic model and these platforms, or platfospheres, are identified. The second part explores the fundamental difference between the “genetic code” at the centre of the semiosphere (as conceived by Lotman), and the computer code and commercial algorithms at the core of the platfospheres that are responsible for their cultural operation. Then the parallels are examined that arise between the past cultural reality, in which the intellectual elite and academics were the driving force of culture, and the contemporary proactive (or even aggressive) core of the platfospheres, in which secret and patent-protected algorithms shape a cultural reality exclusively motivated by the logic of commercial success.