Information sampling and linking: Reality Hunger and the digital knowledge commons

Brooke J. Wonders, Frederic I. Solop, Nancy A. Wonders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article weaves together insights from the social sciences and humanities to explore the link between Web 2.0 technology, information diffusion, and what we describe as a 'hunger for reality'. Using David Shield's book Reality Hunger as both a critical muse and analytic lens, we explore linkages between form and meaning in the digital age. We suggest that Shields' central argument in Reality Hunger accurately reflects the way new information technologies have altered information production, distribution, and meaning. As a result of opportunities created by Web 2.0 technology, information today is increasingly 'sampled', rather than digested in whole. Information consumption comes in bits and bytes, fragmented and disconnected from original sources; it is repurposed in ways that increasingly valorise creativity over content, social networks over corporations, and collective knowledge over private intellectual property. In this article, we explore the social consequences of this new reality. In particular, we argue that individuals are no longer merely consumers of information; through social networks, they are increasingly both producers and distributors of information in the digital age, satisfying their own hunger to define reality. Through the use of Web 2.0 technology, ordinary people around the world are creating a new digital knowledge commons. We explore the implications of this new knowledge commons for the future and suggest reasons that new forms of reality hunger are likely to emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-262
Number of pages16
JournalContemporary Social Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • General Social Sciences


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