This special issue arises from the panel organized by Tuija Virtanen at the 2015 International Pragmatics Association conference in Antwerp, for which I was invited to act as discussant. The aim of this paper is to draw together some of the dominant themes that emerge from the varied contributions collected here, and to offer a number of reflections on them. In particular, it focuses critically on the notions of adaptability and affordances, and the relations between them in the context of new media. It also highlights the need to understand these phenomena as developments in a longer tradition of literate practice and communicative interaction with changing mediational means. The conclusion considers the implications of an increased emphasis on the related concepts of practice and technique, to which human agency is central, and which, it argues, would help to provide a clearer link between the kinds of adaptability discussed in the individual papers and broader historical and theoretical perspectives.