The Public/ Public Sphere
The public should be thought of, first of all, as a sphere that is located outside and separated from the private sphere and our homes; in it, the res publica is negotiated. As technologies of communication achieve ever greater penetration, however, the public sphere changes. The public sphere expands, even into private spaces; old boundaries lose their meaning. Once-operative divisions are completely demolished by new communications technologies and belong to history. Classical mass media such as television, which played a part in this dissolution, have a depoliticizing or, rather, “de-ethicizing” effect, since their one-to-many discourse does not allow for dialogue. Networked dialogue, which promises egalitarian communication for all, would make a new form of the public possible, a “utopian” space – that is, a space without a place. Accordingly, real dialogue, directed by common sense and marked by equal access without hierarchy, could be achieved in this telematic public sphere.
Vilém Flusser’s envisioning of this idea was post-historical and apolitical. The utopia that held out the hope of new public spheres is now being disowned by the new big players of the Internet, who are once again concentrating power in the space of new possibilities and restricting the scope that would allow an egalitarian concept. Thus it falls to users to create such forms of the public themselves as antihierarchical alternatives, to give these forms space, and to realize new “projects” there.
Original article by Thomas Steinmaurer