Saturday, March 21, 2009

5 Questions from David for Mar 23

In “The Networked Public Sphere” Friedland, Hove and Rojas push their idea that “the realm of interpersonal communications is …(being) radically transformed by the extension of networked communication (p. 17)”, but the examples they give primarily illustrate how the internet is creating these networks. I wonder if their analysis overlooks the operation and creation of new networks in ‘old’ forums such as ‘Daily Show’ viewers, NPR listeners, and the potential for other new public spaces emerging in old channels…?

Is deliberation idealized? On p. 23 of “The Networked Public Sphere”, Friedman, Hove and Rojas” point to Sunstein and Benkler’s arguments that the Internet can be used to ‘obtain access to many minds’, via wikis and so forth. But on the web, such intelligence aggregators are equally weighted with unipolar blogs or sites espousing narrow perspectives and special interest agendas; aren’t we assuming a great deal about both the wisdom of the masses and the intelligence (and inquisitiveness) of the participant/deliberator?

Heikkila and Kunelius claim that “…the transnationalisation of power …calls in turn for transnationalised public spheres.” (‘Journalists Imagining The European Sphere’, p. 78) Isn’t this just longhand for a Habermasian concept of global citizenry? That is, doesn’t this presume the possibility for global deliberation? Id so, how might this global delivberation differ from what we currently have (whether we’re talking about transnational communication via the web, or transnational institutions like the U.N.)?

Schudson makes the argument that “Democratic conversation is …dependent on…the prior existence of a public world” (‘Why Conversation is Not the Soul of Democracy’, p. 304). But why should this ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ proposition matter, except to deflate the romance of conversation? Is Schudson suggesting that because the conversation comes later that democracy is any less dependent upon it for its survival or fulfillment?

As a follow on to Schudson’s inquiry about the ‘constitutive element of democracy’ (p. 297): what are the qualities of conversation for it to serve its purpose in the public sphere? Civility? Rationality?

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