This article examines two different approaches to the political significance of networked technologies like the Internet. It considers Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellner’s “critical/reconstructive” methodology and Jodi Dean’s account of “communicative capitalism,” and shows how the respective approaches are insufficient to elucidate the genuinely radical possibilities we may harbor for the Internet. The case study of “hypertextual databases” or “wikis” is used, both to contextualize the limitations of the above arguments and to present a more radical overture for thinking about network politics. I also utilize Ned Rossiter’s concept of “organized networks” and show how these social-technical forms can provide a more radical proposition for thinking about the political possibilities of wikis. I proceed to translate wikis as specific kinds of organized networks that take us beyond a purely perfunctory language – whether as “information-rich data banks” or else animating the “fantasy of abundance” – and allow us to see them in a decidedly “political” way, as necessarily “incomplete” and thus eminently “rewritable” formations. This essay then concludes by examining the wider implications this “political” reading has for the way in which we understand the multiple situations of nascent forms of democratic politics.
“WIKIVISM”: FROM COMMUNICATIVE CAPITALISM TO ORGANIZED NETWORKS
PAUL STACEY COMPLETED HIS PH.D., “NEW TECHNOLOGIES OF DEMOCRACY,” IN THE SCHOOL OF ARTS AT MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY, ENGLAND, IN 2006. HIS MAIN RESEARCH INTERESTS ARE CULTURAL AND POLITICAL THEORY, IN PARTICULAR POST-MARXISM AND DECONSTRUCTION, AND NEW MEDIA/INTERNET ACTIVISM. HIS CURRENT WORK REVOLVES AROUND AN EXPLORATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POST-MARXIST THEORIES OF POLITICS AND EMERGING MODES OF NETWORK POLITICS.