Networked Publics

From September 2005 to June 2006, a team of thirteen scholars at the The University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication explored how new and maturing networking technologies are reconfiguring how which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.

Edited by Netlab Director, Kazys Varnelis—who served as senior fellow at the Annenberg Center during that academic year—the book Networked Publics is a product of that year, a book written using online collaborative tools such as writely (now Google Docs).

Four chapters—each by an interdisciplinary team of scholars using collaborative software—provide a synoptic overview along with illustrative case studies. The chapter on place describes how digital networks enable us to be present in physical and networked places simultaneously (on the phone while on the road; on the Web while at a café)—often at the expense of non-digital commitments. The chapter on culture explores the growth of amateur-produced and -remixed content online and the impact of these practices on the music, anime, advertising, and news industries. The chapter on politics examines the new networked modes of bottom-up political expression and mobilization, and the difficulty in channeling online political discourse into productive political deliberation. And finally, the chapter on infrastructure notes the tension between openness and control in the flow of information, as seen in the current controversy over net neutrality. An introduction by anthropologist Mizuko Ito and a conclusion by architecture theorist Kazys Varnelis frame the chapters, giving overviews of the radical nature of these transformations.

The Networked Publics web site , developed by Varnelis and maintained by the Netlab contains a record of the Annenberg year in the form of a group blog; the book in networked, on-line form; as well as a wealth of supplementary content such as videos and links to other on-line sites and content.

Cover design by Israel Kandarian.

Comments about Networked Publics

Networked Publics is the place to start for anyone seeking to understand the symbiotic changes in new media and society today. Essential reading for both specialists and general readers…
—Lev Manovich, author of The Language of New Media and Soft Cinema

The Networked Publics group brought together smart people across a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives to engage in a serious and sustained conversation about the current state and future directions of the new media landscape. The questions they ask are ones we all need to consider as we learn how to live, work, collaborate, create, and engage as citizens in our new networked society.
—Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

Networked Publics is a lucid, timely, and broadly interdisciplinary look at the most important technological and social change of our time … [This] book is a sound foundation for debates about what networked publics mean, how they can be encouraged, should be regulated, how to protect against their dangerous aspects.
—Howard Rheingold, author of Smartmobs: The Next Social Revolution

Networked Publics is available at Amazon.

Networked Publics