Selling the Selling Point: How Innovation Communication Creates Users of Virtual Worlds Architecture

Ursula Plesner, Maja Horst

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This article explores how virtual worlds are rhetorically constructed as obvious, innovative spaces for communication about architecture. It is argued that the marketization of an innovative use of new media platforms happens in early phases of the innovation processes, and the success of new media technologies such as virtual worlds hinges on the creation of expectations, which are intertwined with the discursive construction of future users. Drawing on the sociology of expectations and the sociology of technology, the article argues that the configuration of expected users is a central part of the communication about the innovation. It is demonstrated that the creation of markets does not begin when innovations such as Virtual Worlds Architecture are settled, but is intertwined with early expectations about their promises and limitations. Rather than seeing virtual worlds as settled and secluded sites for social and cultural innovation in themselves, we have examined how actors involved with them try to sell them as such. A crucial challenge for these actors turns out to be the interpretative flexibility of the innovation, since arguments designed to attract one kind of expected user might problematize the configuration of other types of users.
TidsskriftConvergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)49-70
Antal sider22
StatusUdgivet - 2012


  • Architecture
  • Communication
  • Expectations
  • Innovation
  • Interpretative flexibility
  • Sociology of technology
  • Users
  • Virtual worlds