Join Civic in hostingJoachim Wiewiura for lunch with discussion to follow.
'The networked public sphere’: What is it, and what are its limits?
I explore the result of conjoining "networked" with the public sphere in political philosophy. Networks are often understood either as the conduits for activity (as enabling frameworks) or the grouped activity of persons (as relations), but both neglect the main function of the public sphere: signaling.
I suggest that the public sphere is its sum of its signaling activity, while networks are relevant in their capacity of being signal transmitters. Networks are important to understand the variety of components and strategies that are in creating signals, but the public sphere minimally exists only in so far as signals are provided by networks. Media ecologies are thus opinion climates which hold a tension between the production of signals (due to e.g. misinformation, informational pathologies in group behavior, computational propaganda, cyber warfare) and the real distribution of opinion. I argue that this tension is the main problem for investigating the public sphere today, both empirically and theoretically.