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 transforming the way in which we interact with content, media sources, other individuals and groups, and the world that surrounds us.

This site documents the process and the results.

about netPublics

about netpublics

The Networked Publics (netPublics) research theme invokes emergent changes to how we are engaging as audiences, activists, citizens, and producers in maturing networked media ecologies. These changes include but are not limited to the changing relationship between production and consumption, viral and peer-to-peer distribution, and networked lateral political mobilization. Although the Internet is clearly a central player, we consider media forms both old and new as part of a much broader media ecology undergoing profound social, technical, and cultural transformation.

Site and Book


At long last, the Networked Publics book has been published by the MIT Press. At their request, we have taken down some of the chapters. Even with one of the most enlightened publishers, it was impossible to convince them of the virtues of free information. On the other hand, having the object in your hand makes it far more readable, I think.

Meanwhile, the site has been redesigned, to make it more modern and to bring it in line with the look of the book jacket, which was designed by Israel Kandarian of Field of Gray and the Network Architecture Lab (including our summer 2008 intern Susan Surface) and all the original content has been restored, including videos, now hosted on Google Video. We will update the site to account for any Networked Publics related events, of which I hope there will be a few!


Submitted by admin on December 14, 2008 - 11:30pm

Saskia Sassen: Networks, Power, and Democracy

Saskia Sassen spoke to the Networked Publics Group at the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California on March 23, 2006.

Professor Saskia Sassen is in the Department of Sociology and The Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. She is also a Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics.

Saskia Sassen’s research and writing focuses on globalization (including social, economic and political dimensions), immigration, global cities (including cities and terrorism), the new networked technologies, and changes within the liberal state that result from current transnational conditions. In her research she has focused on the unexpected and the counterintuitive as a way to cut through established “truths.” Her three major books have each sought to demolish a key established “truth.” Thus in her first book, The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge University Press 1988), she showed how foreign investment in less developed countries can actually raise the likelihood of emigration; this went against established notions that such investment would retain potential emigrants.

In her second book The Global City (Princeton University Press 1991; 2nd ed 2002) she showed how the global economy far from being placeless, has and needs very specific territorial insertions, and that this need is sharpest in the case of highly globalized and electronic sectors such as finance; this went against established notions at the time that the global economy transcended territory and its associated regulatory umbrellas. In her most recent book, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages ( Princeton University Press 2006), she shows that the foundational transformations afoot today take place largely inside core and thick national environments; this allows her to explain that some of the changes inside liberal states, most evident in the USA but also increasingly in other countries, are not distortions or anomalies, but are the result of these foundational transformations inside the state apparatus. She shows how this foundational transformation hence consists not only of globalizing dynamics but also of denationalizing dynamics: we are seeing the formation of multiple often highly specialized assemblages of bits of territory, authority and rights that were once ensconced in national framings. Today these assemblages traverse global and national settings, thereby denationalizing what was historically constructed as national.


lecture video: 

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Submitted by admin on November 22, 2008 - 7:41pm

Yochai Benkler: The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets

Yochai Benkler, Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School speaks about the Wealth of Networks at the Annenberg Center for Communication's Networked Publics program.

With the radical changes in information production that the Internet has introduced, we stand at an important moment of transition. The phenomenon of social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities to enhance individual freedom, cultural diversity, political discourse, and justice. But these results are by no means inevitable: a systematic campaign to protect the entrenched industrial information economy of the last century threatens the promise of today’s emerging networked information environment.

Yochai Benkler address how patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural production are changing—and that the way information and knowledge are made available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can create and express themselves.

lecture video: 

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Submitted by admin on November 22, 2008 - 3:02pm

Geoffrey Bowker: What's Memory Got to do With IT?

Geoffrey Bowker, Executive Director and Regis and Diane McKenna Chair in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, delivered his lecture "What's Memory Got to do With IT?" at the Annenberg Center for Communication on Thursday, January 12, 2006.

Abstract: What we hold about the past and how it has changed root and branch since the development of the Internet. We tend to think of the new media form teleologically—what is it changing about the future and future possibilities. In this talk I explore the ways in which the past itself is irrevocably altered by the new technology—we are building a new past at the same time as we are marching backwards, to adopt McLuhan's felicitous phrase, into the future. I argue that it is not only possible to reconfigure our past more flexibly: it is a political and cultural necessity.

Bio: Geoffrey Bowker is Executive Director and Regis and Diane McKenna Chair in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. His books include Science on the Run: Information Management and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940 (MIT, 1994) and Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (MIT, 1999), co-authored with Susan Leigh Star. His forthcoming book, Memory Practices in the Sciences (MIT), discusses geology in the 1830s, cybernetics in the 1950s, and biodiversity science today.


lecture video: 

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Submitted by admin on November 22, 2008 - 2:15pm

Howard Rheingold: Technologies of Cooperation

Howard Rheingold spoke on Technologies of Cooperation: A New Story About How Humans Get Things Done on Monday, April 3, 2006.

Howard Rheingold, author of “Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution”, sees a common thread in such disparate innovations as the Internet, mobile devices, and the feedback system on eBay, where buyers and sellers rate each other on each transaction. He thinks they’re the underpinnings of a new economic order. “These are like the stock companies and liability insurance that made capitalism possible,” suggests Rheingold.

He is now helping lead the Cooperation Project (PDF, 236 kb), a network of academics and businesses trying to map the new landscape of cooperation in business, and looking for ways organisations might enhance their creativity and stimulate innovation with cooperation-based strategic models.

A first result of their work can be read in the publication Technologies of Cooperation (PDF, 1.1 MB) and in the beautifully designed cooperation maps, available in a small version (384 kb) and a large version (4.1 MB).

lecture video: 

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Submitted by admin on November 22, 2008 - 1:47pm

Saskia Sassen Video

Submitted by admin on February 7, 2007 - 8:46pm