Mizuko (Mimi) Itō, PhD in Education and Anthropology from Stanford University, is the Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California Humanities Research Institute, as well as Professor in Residence and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning in the Department of Anthropology and Department of Informatics at UC Irvine. She is a cultural anthropologist who studies new media use, specifically among young people in the U.S. and Japan.
In the introduction to Kazys Varnelis-edited Networked Publics, Itō explains “networked publics” refers to “a linked set of social, cultural, and technological developments that have accompanied the growing engagement with digitally networked media” (2).
Neither “audience” nor “consumer”, “publics” evokes a more participatory engagement and the possibility for a convergence culture, one that acts from all sides and angles (Jenkins, 2006).
The book’s diverse contributors discuss place, culture, politics, and infrastructure. Within these larger themes, they drill down to consider accessibility, the decentralization of communication networks the implications, aggregation, Internet privacy, the net neutrality debate, intellectual property in the creative industries, and what function the Net serves in the deliberative democracy discourse. (The book’s focus is the U.S. since it continues to play a leadership role in Internet communications [though there are some leapfrogging countries].)
The Internet is, as Barnett (2004) puts it, neither poison nor cure. While larger numbers are “domesticating networked digital media for their ongoing business, for socialization, and for cultural exchange” (1), the digital divide is “resilient” (7), owing to the consistent technological advances. Catch up in hard in such conditions.
This book concerns not new technologies, “but rather on longstanding social, cultural, technical, and material domains” (4).