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.

Is MySpace a Place?

Networked Performance pointed me toward an interview (download in PDF)with Networked Publics speaker Henry Jenkins and Networked Publics friend danah boyd about Myspace. The site, popular with teenagers, has become increasingly controversial as parents and the press raise concerns about the openness of information on the site and the vulnerability this supposedly poses to predators (Henry points out that only .1% of abductions are by strangers) and the behavior of teens towards each other (certainly nothing new, only now in persistent form). In another essay on Identity Production in Networked Culture, danah suggests that Myspace is popular not only because the technology makes new forms of interaction possible, but because older hang-outs such as the mall and the convenience store are prohibiting teens from congregating and roller rinks and burger joints are disappearing.

This begs the question, is Myspace media or is it space? Architecture theorists have long had this thorn in their side. "This will kill that," wrote Victor Hugo with respect to the book and the building. In the early 1990s, concern about a dwindling public culture and the character of late twentieth century urban space led us to investigate Jürgen Habermas's idea of the public sphere. But the public sphere, for Habermas is a forum, something that, for the most part, emerges in media and in the institutions of the state:

The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. The medium of this political confrontation was peculiar and without historical precedent: people's public use of their reason (öffentliches Räsonnement). In our [German] usage this term (i.e., Räsonnement unmistakable preserves the polemical nuances of both sides: simultaneously the invocation of reason and its disdainful disparagement as merely malcontent griping. (Habermas, 27)

Nevertheless, the salon, the café, and the parliament were key places that instituted this kind of discourse, and they succeeded the court, which was explicitly spatial.

But myspace and the new sites of network culture are different from the media of old. If they are—in general—not places of rational discourse, they are venues in which publics gather. Is myspace media? Yes. Is it a place, maybe? In my book, MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft definitely are. So do we exclude myspace just because it is not rendered in three dimensions? Are spaces media themselves? Are media spaces? Could be (think of the Seattle Public Library). I don't have any easy answers on this, even as Anne Friedberg and I work on our essay for the upcoming Networked Publics book.

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networked individualism

How do individuals relate to each other on the Internet? A paper from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Communication, suggests that in place of groups, we will see the rise of network individualism.

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NSA Wiretap Documents Revealed

In my article on the Centripetal City, I suggest that the concentration of Internet infrastructure poses a potential terrorist target. But what of the other sort of terror, the Orwellian terror of complete government surveillance, the state of exception created by total war? Network culture may appear to be liberating, but what of this dark underside? In (post-)Soviet America, you don't Google the NSA, the NSA Googles you!

The scandal over wiretaps by the NSA has been brewing for some time, but yesterday Wired Magazine released documents that detail charges that AT&T built secret rooms in a San Francisco company office in order to cc: traffic from its WorldNet Internet Backbone to the NSA. Read Wired's story here and view the documents in pdf here

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Ben Vershbow on Netpublics Conference and Machinima

On if:book, Ben Vershbow writes:

Ray, Bob and I spent last week out in Los Angeles at our institutional digs (the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC), where we held a pair of meetings with professors from around the US and Canada to discuss various coups we are attempting to stage within the ossified realm of scholarly and textbook publishing. Following these, we were able to stick around for a fun conference/media festival organized by Annenberg's Networked Publics project.


As we enjoyed this little feast of new media, I was vaguely aware that the Tribeca film festival was going on back in New York. As I casually web-surfed through one of the panels — in the state of continuous partial attention that is now the standard state of being all these networky conferences — I came across an article about one of the more talked about films appearing there this year: "The War Tapes." Like Gunner Palace and Occupation Dreamland, "The War Tapes" is a documentary about American soldiers in Iraq, but with one crucial difference: all the footage was shot by actual soldiers.

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Submitted by mito on May 18, 2006 - 11:46pm

Ubicomp 2006 — Call for Demos

The Ubicomp conference’s Demonstrations Program offers an excellent way to showcase tangible results of ubiquitous computing research and development to over 500 attendees from academia and industry. A successful demo communicates ideas and concepts in a powerful way that a regular presentation cannot. We invite you to contribute your vision of the ubicomp experience to the Demonstrations Program at the UbiComp 2006 conference. We particularly encourage demonstrations that include participation by conference attendees and provoke discussion about issues within the field of ubiquitous computing.

We seek proposals for demonstrations of ubiquitous computing technologies across the full milieu of everyday life: office, home, street, park, train, automobile, bedroom, bathroom, work, play, desktop, handheld, worn, public, private, community, individual, shared, and personal. We welcome a wide range of submission from scenarios involving innovative solutions of focused tasks as well as playful pursuits.

Ubicomp 2006 runs from September 17-21, 2006 and is hosted at UC Irvine in Irvine, CA.

Abstract Page limit: 2 pages (ACM SIGCHI conference publications format)

Submission Deadline: June 16, 2006
Acceptance Notification: July 14, 2006
Final Version Due: August 4, 2006

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Submitted by jbleecker on May 16, 2006 - 10:42pm

the network condition

network condition

Submitted by afriedberg on May 11, 2006 - 2:21pm

TenFour Video Blogs of Netpublics Conference

The video bloggers from Andrew Syder's class "The Languages of New Media" have posted their work. This includes vlogs of different conference moments:

The network neutrality debate

Discussion with "Makers" Mark Outmesgein and Mark Frauenfelder


the Machinima reel

Also, interviews with:

Paul Marino

Mark Frauenfelder

Jonathan McIntosh

Marc Tuters

Submitted by mito on May 8, 2006 - 11:26pm

Nert on DIY Festival

Nert, who curated the Anime Music Videos portion of the event has just posted his trip report. As John Tomasic blogs, the event was characterized by a series of disconnects. Nert writes with his characteristic good humor about some connects and disconnects:

There were panels on the Digital Homemade -- low tech alternatives to the commercial media we're used to. Alternative News -- amateur blog journalism, link aggregation, etc. and Network Hacks/Hack Networks which had all the funky amateur tech, backpacks that double as wireless hotspots, networked catflaps, cellphone jammers, etc. It's good seeing the range the conference was covering, though a little intimidating as now I felt like the guy who goes up after all these intellectuals and says "er, I play with cartoons.." but hey ;)...Still it got positive feedback so I guess we didn't do hideously bad ;) The technical aspects were certainly appreciated more than the visual aesthetics which I was pleased at, I kinda expected that but still.

Reading Nert next to Harry Cleaver's response tells one story of what for me was a productive disconnect. Generational and cultural divides in what makes up participation and engagement loom large. But it sure was fun to have these different perspectives in the same room for a few days. It warms my anthropological heart to have designed an event where most people seem to have felt a little marginal. But more on my postmorten shortly.

Submitted by mito on May 8, 2006 - 11:02pm

Conference Response from Harry Cleaver

I asked economist and activist Harry Cleaver for his reaction to some of the issues raised at the conference. Here is what he had to say about networked culture, politics, and what Marx might make of MAKE magazine:

On machinma, anime remix, and World of Warcraft:

Well, with respect to machinma and anime remix, it's my impression that the availability of tools is giving more people access to such means of expression. However, two things: first, the tools are still complex and, from all we heard, terribly time consuming so that "access" means little at this point because very few people have either the skills or the time and energy to devote to such efforts; second, as a result, it seems that the result is only a very marginal contribution to "participatory culture" and that contribution takes more the form of creating and circulating artistic works than contributions to any kind of community interactivity.

Submitted by arussell on May 7, 2006 - 1:52pm

Netpublics: more reactions

From John Tomasic's blog

The netpublics group at the annenberg center for communication at USC threw an interesting party this past weekend. Ok, I guess it was a conference. But in addition to academics, it hosted journalists and new-media “makers,

Submitted by arussell on May 3, 2006 - 1:10pm