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The rise of the Pragmatic Web: implications for rethinking meaning and interaction

Jones, R. ORCID: (2020) The rise of the Pragmatic Web: implications for rethinking meaning and interaction. In: Tagg, C. and Evans, M. (eds.) Historicising the Digital : English Language Practices in New and Old Media. de Gruyter Mouton, Berlin. ISBN 3110620391

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1515/9783110670837-003


Much attention has been paid to the rise of the “Semantic Web” – a set of protocols for meanings to be shared across different platforms and systems of encoding to allow our machines to “talk” to each other. Less attention has been paid to the development of what has been called the “Pragmatic Web”, which consists of networks of tools, protocols and agents (both human and algorithmic) that interact to make and interpret meanings through actions. In some ways, however, advances in creating a “Pragmatic Web” have outstripped efforts to create a “Semantic Web”, a fact seen most clearly in the various algorithms that monitor the actions of users and transform them into inferences about the kinds of content they wish to be fed or the kinds of products they want to buy – algorithms that are at the heart of search engines like Google, recommender systems like that used by, and filtering systems like Facebook’s EdgeRank. The rise of the Pragmatic Web introduces challenges to scholars of pragmatics and discourse analysis, forcing us to rethink fundamental principles of meaning and interaction, including how implicature is created, how inferences are formed, the role of context in assigning meaning to action, and what constitutes a “speech act” to begin with. This chapter explores the ways digital communication involving networks of human and non-human agents is changing how we study pragmatics, and the implications of this for how we understand the social and ethical aspects of computer mediated communication.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:87378
Publisher:de Gruyter Mouton


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