The Institute of Telephonic Studies
Keeping up this blog's theme of comparing everything to the Internet, who is the Claude Fischer of Internet Studies? And would a book called "America Surfing" written 60 years from now reach the same conclusion as Fischer? The answer certainly isn't Miller & Slater, who have a very different sort of idea about how technology works.
Picking up on Fischer's idea of "ordinaryness", it is interesting to see the way that the Internet has become ordinary so quickly. A little bit of the Internet has quickly and quietly slipped into everything, making it hard to consider as a discrete technology that has measurable consequences. The academics who set out to specifically study the Internet and its consequences already look sort of odd. For instance: Is the Internet still exciting enough for an Internet Institute? (My answer: Probably.) Is the Internet still distinct enough for something called Internet Research to make sense as a subdiscipline? (My answer: Probably not.) David Silver wrote a nice few pages about this at the beginning of an introduction for a recent book. A quote:
It can be argued that a commonly shared set of theories and methodologies is a sign of an academic field's development and sophistication. It can also be argued that such commonly held approaches signal ossification, stagnation, and lack of imagination. I favor the side of a temporary canonless field of study (Silver 2004). If and when the canon appears, replete with acceptable theories, methods, and methodologies, I surely hopoe its foundations are pliable enough for whatever meets us in the future.
Of course all of this doesn't sound as weird as "Telephone Institute" and "Telephonic Studies," so maybe there is some merit to it still.