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Cybering Democracy

Public Space and the Internet

2002
Author:

Diana Saco

Cybering Democracy

Reconceptualizes the relationship between participatory democracy, technology, and space

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.

This book probes and illuminates the uncomfortable sense we often have of how cyberspace is somehow ‘real’ from a social and emotional perspective, even though at the same time we know that it is not actual, at least not in any literal physical sense.

Steven Shaviro, author of Cinematic Body

The Internet has been billed by some proponents as an "electronic agora" ushering in a "new Athenian age of democracy." That assertion assumes that cyberspace’s virtual environment is compatible with democratic practice. But the anonymous sociality that is intrinsic to the Internet seems at odds with theories of democracy that presuppose the possibility, at least, of face-to-face meetings among citizens. The Internet, then, raises provocative questions about democratic participation: Must the public sphere exist as a physical space? Does citizenship require a bodily presence?

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. Within this innovative framework, Saco investigates recent and ongoing debates over cryptography, hacking, privacy, national security, information control, and Internet culture, focusing on how different online practices have shaped this particular social space. In the process, she highlights fundamental issues about the significance of corporeality in the development of civic-mindedness, the exercise of citizenship, and the politics of collective action.

Cybering Democracy

Diana Saco is an independent scholar based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cybering Democracy

This book probes and illuminates the uncomfortable sense we often have of how cyberspace is somehow ‘real’ from a social and emotional perspective, even though at the same time we know that it is not actual, at least not in any literal physical sense.

Steven Shaviro, author of Cinematic Body

Diana Saco provides us with a very detailed, vivid, and technically savvy account of how cyberspace operates as a technological, spatial, social, and political reality. Her orientation, grasping cyberspace as a complex social construct, illuminates a host of important Internet-related terminology, issues, and debates—virtual embodiment, bit space, nonlinear networks, the new Private Network Access Points (PNAP)—dependent Internet, National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, hacker culture, and the U.S. encryption debate, to name a few. Saco does a superb job of rethinking spatiality and showing how Internet cyberspace is a social space relevant to democratic theory. Valuable.

Perspectives on Politics

Cybering Democracy

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Politics of Visibility

1. Theorizing Spaces
2. Democratic Utopias
3. Hardware and Software A Techno-Topography of Cyberspace
4. Wetware An Ethno-Topography of Cyberspace
5. Hacking Cyberspace

Conclusion Cybertopia and the Demos

Notes
Works Cited

Index