The final day of Web Science 2016 starts with a keynote by Daniel Miller, who contributes an anthropologist's perspective to the conference. He notes that especially when it comes to the popular discussion of Web technologies such as social media, there are many spurious claims about how they change social interactions – and anthropologists are called upon to make sense of these claims. Anthropology, he notes, is in fact the study of people as social networks: we are all of us embedded in our social relations with others, and it is these relations that anthropology examines and analyses.
This enables a process of 'holistic contextualisation', which aims to examine comprehensively why people do what they do, online and offline. This studiously avoids any simplistic concentrations on online or offline activities, as people are almost always operating across both spaces. One core principle of this is the idea of 'polymedia', which builds on the fact that cost and access barriers to most media have decreased to the point that people no longer choose their media based on such factors, but instead on other – social and moral – considerations. (The moral judgment comes in as people assess others' uses of specific media: is it appropriate to break up a relationship via social media, for instance?)