by Marina Levina
At its most descriptive, the network is defined as a singular and hierarchical entity, a radio or television network responsible for transmitting messages to the audience. Increasingly, however, the term “network” has become an analytical tool embedded in global culture and information technologies, and their multitudes of connections, messages, and topographies. For instance, there is “the terrorist network,” a seemingly concrete entity that proves to be a hard-to-define enemy; “a social network,” a mediated forum for sharing personal information and cat videos; and finally “network” as a way of life and a cultural norm, a connectivity in perpetuity (Levina and Kien 2010). This network is decidedly not hierarchical, but is not outside of relations and systems of power (Levina 2014). In fact, these relations are probably the best way to understand what it means to live in an always-mediated network environment made possible by media and information technologies. The network is best understood as a topography that organizes everyday experiences in terms of sociality and relationality.