New media technologies and the transition to personal public spheres
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New Media Technologies and the Transition to Personal Public Spheres attempts to situate recent developments in new media and communication technologies within the larger discussion of the public sphere. By exploring the initial impacts of first radio and then of television on the public sphere the effects of new social media tools like blogs, wikis, and other new mediums for open dialogue on the larger public sphere can be better understood. These new communication technologies have the potential to reinvigorate a public sphere which has become largely dominated by the mass media, corporate interests, and 'substantial people'. Open news and participatory journalism online has undermined the mass media's control over the agenda setting process and by doing so helped to allow discussions previously barred from the public agenda into the public discourse. This friction between mass media and participatory media outlets fused with an ever expanding ecology of different media tools provides for a previously impossible diversity of information. It also creates a fragmentation in the way that people experience the public sphere as different ways of interfacing with the same information proliferate. A user not only has the option of what content to look at, interact with, or contribute to, but now also has a variety of options in how to deal with the same content - do you want you want to interact with the site itself? Follow its RSS feed? Use its Facebook app? Follow its Twitter stream? This fragmentation results in the development of 'personal public spheres': spheres in which even users who are interacting with similar content are interfacing with it so differently that they're actually participating in different dialogues. There are many possibilities for a public sphere expanded and renewed through participatory dialogue online, but there are many complications as well. The creativity that goes into garnering the interest of current non-participants in the next few years is largely where the inclusivity, and effectively the potential authority, of a public sphere renewed by the web will be determined.