This is a blog about a book that will be published in early 2017 by the University of Chicago Press. Since it will not appear for some months, I offer the reader the draft blurb that I have written for the Press:

Following Searle on Twitter is an original attempt to combine a highly conceptual and theoretical perspective with a down-to-earth exposition of present-day digital institutions. The author uses the theory of Status Function Declarations, a theory developed by the philosopher John Searle, as a probe for understanding Twitter’s institutional structure and the still developing toolset that it provides for its members.

Most of the actions through which we engage with Twitter are shown to precisely fit the definition of a Status Function Declaration. Twitter is an institution built, constituted and evolving through the use of Status Function Declarations. Furthermore, Twitter is shown to be a case-study, not a special case. The ambitious theory that emerges from the case-study concludes that all our interactions with these new, emerging, digital institutions are deeply language-made. So it follows that a scientific and humanistic study of digital institutions lies at the intersection of many disciplines: philosophy, social theory, the sociology of knowledge, psychology, media studies, network science and linguistics among others.

The author aligns his account of digital institutions with the anthropological and evolutionary framework developed by Michael Tomasello. Hodgkin’s theory, inspired by Searle and Tomasello, places language, action, intention and responsibility at the core of the digital culture and the digital institutions that we are constructing. [A fragment of the Twitter institution can be found at www.twitter.com/adamhodgkin]

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