Varnelis. K. ed. (2008), Networked Publics. Cambridge: MIT Press.
In the collaborative book "Networked Publics" edited by Kazys Varnelis, the concept is first introduced. As a working definition, the authors use this concept to describe the new kind of collectivities that are emerging with the new technological, cultural, social, and economical configurations. The new "networked" publics are not simply audiences or consumers. Instead, they are publics where people can actively participate and produce political commentary, propaganda, cultural criticism, knowledge, and information, by using digitally networked media. The term publics highlights the participatory character of the collectivities, their activities and interactions.
The notion of networked publics highlights the rise of new forms of many-to-many communication, where distributing, aggregating, and producing information and culture have become available to ordinary people. People experience their everyday lives imersed in networked media ecologies as a result of the digital technologies and networks (computers, microprocessors, mobile telephones, wireless devices, gps). The pervasiveness of networking infrastructures and their accessibility via computers and mobile phones has created a digital mobile lifestyle that relies in being "always-on" and connected. For maintaining the always-on relationships, users rely on smartphones, laptops, and other handheld devices.
The online world, supported by the internet, is a source of sociality and culture. As a result of social, cultural, and technological developments, networked publics emerge dynamically. As Ito explains in the Introduction to the book, "now publics are communicating more and more through complex networks that are bottom-up, top-down, as well as side-to-side. Publics can be reactors, (re)makers and (re)distributors, engaging in shared culture and knowledge through discourse and social exchange as well as through acts of media reception." (3)
Circulation of content is at the core of networked publics. Digital media technology has allowed new means and practices for distributing and creating content. There are new opportunities for sharing media and information with others, to connect with people who has similar interests, to discuss with friends in mediated spaces. People with access to Internet connection has the potential of distributing content to a wider and disperse audience/public. P2P distribution systems, M2M sharing platforms,and social networking sites (SNSs) provide the tools for circulating content within a social and cultural context. Digital and networked tools foster sharing among strangers and, as a consequence, contribute to the augmentation of interpersonal networks. According to Ito, "P2P distribution systems such as Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent, M2M sharing platforms such as DeviantArt, Flickr, Fanfiction.net, and YouTube, and social networking tools such as MySpace, LiveJournal, and Facebook radically expand opportunities for individuals to share media and information directly with others in a social context."
The infrastructure of the interne has been designed with an open end-to-end (E2E) architecture where information circulates from the ends, without that much filtering or gate-keeping about the types of content or the origin and destiny of the content.With the development of the Internet and its massive adoption, the E2E architecture has supported "cultures of peer-to-peer (P2P) media distribution and many-to-many (M2M) forms of communication." The internet architecture allows new and old forms of communication and distribution of content, both one-to-many forms of communication characteristics of the broadcasting industries and M2M distribution of amateur and niche content.
One of the consequences of the accessibility of tools for distributing content is, as Benkler has argued, the growing of non-market production and circulation of knowledge and culture.
The evolution of the Internet as a powerful medium for exchanging content in different formats. In two decades went from a medium of exchanging text to a complete multimedia platform where sounds, images, videos, voice calls, 3d worlds, and geographic data are constantly circulating.
In the conclusion, Varnelis, argues that "network culture" should be understood as a historical phenomenon that occurs after posmodernity.
Vernelis explains that we inhabit multiple overlapping networks and not all of them are networked publics. According to him, networks that are private and personal cannot be networked publics because they are extensions of intimate space. In contrast, networks such as "interest communities, forums, newsgroups, blogs, and so on are the sites for individuals who are generally not on intimate terms to encounter others in public," they are networked publics. Networked publics are audiences interacting and acting, communicating and exchanging in a public venue.
As Vernelis explains, "The public is an audience, by nature reactive, consumers of culture and politics, at home not in the one-way, space in front of the TV where response remains private or, at best, filtered through the Nielsen rating system, but rather in a public venue such as the theater, gallery, public square, café, salon, or periodical, a space in which the private individuals comprising the audience can make their voices heard in a dialogue." However, "Networked publics are by no means purely democratic spaces in which every voice can be heard. That would be cacophony."
According to Varnelis, the emergence of networked publics and the growth of non-market production are the most important change that network culture has created.
Individuals belong to several networked publics, inhabit at the same time and by tele-precense several worlds. As Vernalis explains, "In network theory, a node's relationship to other networks is more important than its own uniqueness. Similarly, today we situate ourselves less as individuals and more as the interstices of multiple networks composed of both humans and things."