23 Sep

Do Networks Equal Publics?

I think it’s great that cities are going wireless.  I think it’s magnfiicent that one day, I’ll be able to open my laptop on any street corner and download the latest on this or that or post to my blog.   I think it’s great that we’re always just a stone’s throw from the information we need, or want.  But, I wonder what it does to the possibilities of public space?  Devices shield us from publics.   They allow us to be in public space but only engage when we choose to.  For instance, with my laptop open, I can choose whether or not to engage with other people.  It’s my excuse to retreat or to treat others as selections in a vending machine.  But wireless allows me to connect to a network as well.  I’m connected to other people, they just might not be present.  So my question is: do networks equal publics?  If not, how do we move from networks to publics?  Or perhaps these categories disintegrate with the introduction of wireless technology.      

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