Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 September 2012
The idea, so popular among some commentators in the 1990s, that Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) have steered political authority and cultural production away from the nation-state, has persisted in the twenty-first century. After the early pro-globalist rush to embrace the Internet as a truly supranational tool, new ICTs continue to be treated as a delocalising force, shifting the balance of power away from the organisational systems of the nation-state and placing it instead within a distributed informational network that operates outside of geographical and national space. With no spatial barriers to entry – and beyond the legislative structures that regulate activity within the nationstate – digital culture has allowed the individual to engage in open communication and to navigate information freely. We have become confident in our self-image as netizens and cybernauts who participate with unprecedented autonomy in an online democracy (Hauben and Hauben 1997; Rheingold 1993: 59ff.; Gore 2008: 245–70), rather than being subjected to information transmitted by governmental or national media organisations. More recently, the web's second incarnation has allowed it to graduate to greater heights of collaboration and interactivity, with online networks allowing groups to traverse the confines of space that have traditionally shaped social association. Citizen Cyborg (Hughes 2004), The Cyborg Self and the Networked City (Mitchell 2004), The World is Flat (Friedman 2006): such titles speak of the new habitus that transcends the imagined space of the nation-state, a digital (non-)place that can finally fulfil the promise of participatory citizenship because it is globally inclusive.
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