Document Type

Journal Article


The School of English, Media Studies, & Art History, The University of Queensland


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Green, L. R. (2008). Is it meaningless to talk about 'the Internet'? Australian Journal of Communication, 35(3), 1-14. Available here.


This paper suggests that there is no longer any fixed meaning to the term 'Internet'. Instead, the Internet is created anew in the hands of each individual user and reflects their prioritie!i and interests. At the same time, the dynamism of Internet innovation and development is such that a burgeoning range of options has become available, allowing Internet users to customise and create their online environment to approxima.te a personal manifestation of what we might call, in a generic sense, 'their Internet'. In part, this shift has been reflected in something as mundane as the everyday usage of the word. Just a few years ago, the word 'internet' would have been identified by MS Word as an error, unless it had a capital '1'. Now that word-without the capital letter-is accepted. [This journal still prefers 'Internet'. Ed.] The Internet is no longer a proper noun, like a place: instead, the word 'Internet' is more frequently used as an adjective or a noun-a general category of thing, as in 'internet shopping' and 'internet research'. This paper looks at whether we can still have a shared meaning around the concept of 'the Internet' and, if so, what that meaning is and how and where it is confounded in everyday and emerging usage. 'It argues that the meaningfulness of the term 'Internet' is now highly compromised and that the specificity it once enjoyed has now become subsumed within a generality equivalent to the notion of 'the book', or of 'communication'.

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