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Kurtzke, S. (2007) Webfilm theory, no. 318.
Since its inception in 1989, the World Wide Web has grown as a medium for publishing first text, then images, audio, and finally, moving images including short films. While most new media forms, in particular, hypertext, have received scholarly attention, research into moving image on the Internet had been limited. The thesis therefore set out to investigate webfilms, a form of short film on the WWW and the Internet, over a period of 9 years (1997-2005). The thesis was theoretically embedded in questions regarding new media as new field of research, since the increasing visibility of new media had resulted in the emergence of the discipline of 'new media studies'. This context raised issues regarding the configuration of new media studies within the existing academic disciplines of media and cultural studies, which were explored in depth in the literature review. The case studies of the thesis explored and analysed webfilms from a vantage point of actor-network theory, since this was arguably the most appropriate methodology to a research object considerably influenced by technological factors. The focus was on the conditions of webfilm production, distribution, and exhibition, and the evolution of webfilm discourse and culture. The aim was to seek answers to the question 'How didwebfilm arise as (new) form of film?' In the process of research, a number of issues were raised including the changing definition and changing forms of webfilms, the convergence of media, and the complex interdependency of humans and their computers. The research re-evaluates the relationship between human and non-human factors in media production and presents a fresh approach by focusing on the network as unit of analysis. The thesis as a whole not only provides new information on the evolution of webfilm as a form of film, but also illustrates how the network interaction of humans and nonhumans lies at the heart of contemporary new media and convergence culture.