Accepted paper:

Making a dent in the universe: the (un)intended futures of Internet business


Zane Kripe (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

An exploration of the making of Internet businesses in Singapore and the types of futures that are materialized un/intentionally in the product making process.

Paper long abstract:

This paper takes a look at media futures from the perspective of production side, and explores the making of Internet businesses in Singapore. Based on an ethnographic study of web technology startups, this paper focuses on two forms of future which are crucial in the contemporary digital business industry - namely, open and empty futures (Adams and Groves, 2007). The open future is characteristic of progress thinking, while the empty future seems to underlie the working of capitalism. In the startup space, however, these abstract forms of future can be associated with particular practices. The open form of the future underlies the belief that an identified problem or need in 'the market' can be solved by a technological service and that it is upon the entrepreneurs to solve it. Meanwhile, the empty form of the future allows to rank different future possibilities of the product and choose the one that has the highest market 'potential'. This paper will explore how these two forms of future are closely intertwined in the process of making a digital media business and in what kind of intended and unintended materializations they resulted in Singapore during my research.

panel P065
Media futures: media anthropology of, for and through the notion of 'future' (Media Anthropology Network)