Networked public sphere

From Media Technology and Culture Change

An essential component of Yochai Benkler's argument for the democratic nature of the Network economy, the networked public sphere refers to the shift from a mass-media public sphere controlled by a small number of commercial markets to a forum that is accessible to and generated by individuals, "increasing freedom individuals enjoy to participate in creating information and knowledge" [1]. Central to his book,The Wealth of Networks, his advocacy of the networked public sphere speaks against the relatively limited intake basin, preference of innocuous over politically engaging content, and inbalance of power associated with commercial media, instead highlighting the benefits of a more public and "democratic" internet. He suggests that the networked public sphere "enables many more individuals to communicate their observations and their viewpoints to many others, and to do so in a way that cannot be controlled by media owners and is not as easily corruptible by money as were the mass media" [1]. In addition to the public sphere's promotion of democratic ideals through accessibility, it also promotes freedom of speech--especially that of a politically-critical nature--as can be seen through the recent upsurge in popularity of politically minded, individual Blogs, Remix culture, and YouTube and online video.


[1] Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth of Networks. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.