Social media platforms and humanities academia have been undergoing a simultaneous legitimation crisis with intriguing parallels. This is not surprising, since the humanities, in recent decades, have come to be dominated by a platform-like intellectual edifice generally known as “Theory” (a catch-all term for theorizing and criticism of contemporary society in Postmodernist modes). Protocol media, arguably, are key to rejuvenating and relegitimating both. Going the other way, in their current early stage of development, protocols can also benefit from insights from both Theory and the recent history of culture wars on social media platforms. In this narrative bibliography, we explore how that might happen from an unusual angle: the experience of Japan as a “harbinger state” that has already, to some extent, experienced a technological evolution from platforms to protocols ahead of the rest of the world, and a parallel evolution in Theory. 

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