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Cybering Democracy: Public Space and the Internet

Diana Saco
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Cybering Democracy
    Book Description:

    In Cybering Democracy, Diana Saco boldly reconceptualizes the relationship between democratic participation and spatial realities both actual and virtual. She argues that cyberspace must be viewed as a produced social space, one that fruitfully confounds the ordering conventions of our physical spaces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9138-8
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. introduction: The Politics of Visibility
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    On 5 August 1993, convicted murderer Joseph Paul Jernigan was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas, leaving to scientific research, at his own request, the otherwise healthy corpse of a well-developed, thirty-nine-year-old male who was free from the ravages of disease, age, and trauma. Technicians of the state anatomical board placed Jernigan’s body in one and a half gallons of one-percent formalin for temporary preservation and transported it by jet to the dissection lab of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. There the remains were scanned by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT), frozen, and then...

  5. chapter 1 Theorizing Spaces
    (pp. 1-34)

    According to American popular culture, human beings since at least the Stone Age have sought, often through technological achievements, to direct the course of their lives by reshaping the physical spaces around them. Though the quotation above overstates our ability to do that, it nonetheless offers an insight into the close, perhaps mutually causal, connection that exists between space and society. That insight, while not exactly lost on past social theorists, has not received adequate attention. In the last decade, however, we have witnessed what Edward W. Soja welcomes as a “long-delayed reassertion of spatiality in critical thought and practice”...

  6. chapter 2 Democratic Utopias
    (pp. 35-74)

    Space and democracy correspond in ways that are neither unique nor incidental. This relationship is, in a sense, ordinary in that, as Michael Shapiro observes, “all forms of political theory that are comprehensive and totalizing presume elaborate spatial strategies” (1992, 4). It is also seemingly obligatory in that theories of democracy assume a form of government at leastofthe People (if not alsoforandbythem) and that has entailed imaginative projections of the spaces through which people collectively engage in their democratic practices. At one extreme, the space of democracy has been imagined in terms of a...

  7. chapter 3 Hardware and Software A Techno-Topography of Cyberspace
    (pp. 75-106)

    Computers were feared as purveyors of disempowerment long before they became the stuff of revolutionary hopes and democratic dreams. Prior to the early 1980s, they remained very much a special-interest technology: a high-tech toy for nerds at various research institutes and, what was worse, a powerful tool in the hands of governmental and corporate giants. Where they were felt to have an impact on the lives of normal, everyday folks, this impact was decidedly negative. Under the rubric of automation, workers by the thousands lost their jobs to robotic arms and computer brains in the so-called boom years following World...

  8. chapter 4 Wetware An Ethno-Topography of Cyberspace
    (pp. 107-140)

    In cyberspeak, computer users are often referred to aswetware—the organic, carbon-based component in the otherwise silicon and binary world of computing. Other common synonyms for the human element in computing includelivewareand, of course,meatware(recalling the discussion in the introduction). Since water makes up between 50 and 90 percent of the weight of living organisms, the adjectivewetis another fitting modifier for humans, the principal living organism involved in the production of cyberspace (references to “mouses” and “bugs” notwithstanding). It is also a particularly salient symbol for humans in an age when fears about the...

  9. chapter 5 Hacking Cyberspace
    (pp. 141-198)

    As I argued in the previous chapter, following Foucault, apparatuses of security are one of the conditions of possibility for democracy as it has come to be practiced in the modern era, enabling the production of what Sandy Stone has called “the politically apprehensible citizen” (1996, 79). My topographies also revealed, however, that the physical, conceptual, and experiential spatiality that is cyberspace complicates such political apprehensions; not simply by making embodied individuals “invisible” on the Internet (a notion that, in fact, oversimplifies the issue), but rather by confounding the wider array of familiar distinctions—e.g., presence/absence, body/persona, offline/online—through which...

  10. conclusion Cybertopia and the Demos
    (pp. 199-212)

    Spatial strategies are not incidental to politics. Indeed, creating safe havens through the erection of protective walls (beltways, the private realm, encryption fortresses) behind which the liberal individual can exercise his (occasionally also her) freedom has constituted a kind of fetish in liberal-democratic thought, in some instances overriding other concerns of arguably a more democratic nature. In direct, participatory forms of democracy, by contrast, walls have tended to be viewed as a kind of barrier separating privilege from deprivation. The thrust of this alternative philosophy, therefore, has been to break down all exclusionary walls in order to construct open political...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 213-258)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 259-286)
  13. Index
    (pp. 287-296)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-297)