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The Internet of Things: tracing a new field of enquiry

A Review Essay by Mercedes Bunz, published by Media Culture and Society

In this review essay by Mercedes Bunz, she brings together works by Bratton (2016), Dhanjani (2015), Greengard (2015), Howard (2015) and Sterling (2014) to explore the notion of ‘the internet of things’. The abstract is published here, and the full text can be found in the pages of Media Culture and Society.

Digital Media Studies are driven as much by academic debate as by their constantly changing object of study, digital technology; at least this is the impression one gets when looking at the publications in this field: whenever digital media applications reach the mainstream, they trigger waves of publications. This has been the case, for instance, in Software Studies (see, for example, Berry, 2011; Fuller, 2008), Platform Studies (see, for example, Bogost and Montfort, 2009; Gillespie, 2010), as well studies of social media services like Facebook and Twitter (see, for example, Christensen et al., 2016; Fuchs, 2013; Meikle, 2016). With the rise of the ‘Internet of Things’, Media Studies seems to face its newest development all geared up for ‘the next big thing’. This time, however, books have been published even before the Internet of Things has become mainstream. This article gives an overview over several publications on this topic, thereby aiming to deliver a first sketch of a new and still evolving field. Thus, it is important to start with framing the ‘new media’ those books are referring to when discussing ‘the Internet of Things’.

The term ‘Internet of Things’ denotes objects that have become seamlessly integrated into a digital network. For this, regular things, which could not communicate before, need to be provided with an address; often they also become equipped with sensors that can communicate their status or report on their environment. In short, those things are becoming media. At the moment, networked media-things can already be found in a wide range of consumer devices and home applications from lights and loud speakers to heating systems and surveillance cameras, which all have been connected to smartphones and can be manipulated from outside the home. Other common areas for networked things are transport and …

This text should be cited as: Bunz, M. (2016). The Internet of Things: tracing a new field of enquiry. Media Culture and Society.
Mercedes Bunz


Mercedes Bunz is Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, London, where she teaches Multimedia Journalism and Social Media, and writes about technology, digital media, and the public sphere. Her research explores digital media and the transformation of journalism, social media and the transformation of the public sphere, the internet of things, political economy of media and communication, critical theory and last but not least philosophy of technology. Her last book was The Silent Revolution: How Algorithms Changed Knowledge, Work, Journalism, and Politics Without Making Too Much Noise (Palgrave Macmillan 2014).


6 September 2016
Published By
Media Culture and Society
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