2008: Volume 1, Issue 1 (Inaugural Issue), pp. 89-106

Politics and Emerging Media: The Revenge of Publicity

Darin Barney



Emerging media technologies and applications have accompanied by an explosion of diverse means and practices for engaging in public life, raising the possibility of an invigorated and improved democratic politics. Investment in this possibility is premised on acceptance of the norms associated with publicity, specifically access to information and enhanced communication. Starting from the premise that democracy is a term whose defining attributes are best understood as the politicization of moral and ethical questions and equality (as opposed to a characteristic set of procedures and practices), the discussion in this paper investigates the potential for democratic participation via Web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook and other social networking sites. What emerges from this exercise is the recognition that within the contemporary context, information, communication and participation stand-in for motivation, judgment and action when it comes to democratic politics. This implies, in turn, that we may be settling for publicity in the place of the more the demanding democratic goods of politicization and equality. Somewhat more ominously, the popular embrace of these surrogates via emerging media technologies may actually undermine the prospect of a politics aimed at more radical outcomes.



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