May 06, 2003
Chris Shumway: Participatory Media Networks
All of the previous arguments clearly point to the need for a healthy public sphere in which free and spirited communication can take place so that individuals can recognize their connection to the greater community and thus make genuine democracy possible. In accordance with this need, a group of radical media activists, calling themselves the "immediast underground", advanced the idea that an underground media democracy movement should attempt to reconstitute the public sphere using modern communications tools and old-fashioned community organizing. Actually, to be more correct, they suggested that it was necessary to liberate public space not so much by rebuilding one public sphere, but by creating a network of hundreds of non-commercial, local public spheres for the exchange of political, economic and cultural news. These spaces would be physical, working newsrooms, or "public production libraries" in which citizens could produce their own stories and disseminate them through grassroots media networks. Further, each autonomous node in the network, each point of resistance, could be connected by the Internet. These newsrooms could also serve as community organizing centers where activists, journalists and citizens could meet to exchange notes and discuss strategies and tactics for advancing their movement.