Anyway, I’m struck by Rashaan’s reference to the idea of being an online citizen. It brings to mind the idea of civics, and that grand old idea of the polis. I’m drawn to the Internet for its polis potential. I see this online engagement as a form of autonomous collective resistance to the corporate colonizing mentality that wants to harness the Internet as the new limitless marketplace, the branded agora. The agora can be a positive & creative thing, of course—think of the marketplace of ideas, small-scale trading posts like your local crafts fair or farmers’ market—but corporations aren’t thinking of that kind of agora. They’re thinking of something far more global & systematized & scary.
Read the rest of her response here.
Her thoughts also coincide with a recent blog post by Harper’s Magazine exploring: “Plato: The Origins of Democracy” which explores the idea of civic art when citizens and state figures practice the “political technique.” With the oceans of data, information, noise, and opinion that comprise our digital universe, how do we parse out the disinformation, misinformation, and static from the nuggets of truth and fact. And then, in turn, how do we reciprocate our notions of truth and fact so that we’re not contributing to disinformation, misinformation and static? We’re charged with these tasks as active citizens of our virtual polis. We each have a responsibility, and at the salon, we’re keen on owning this responsibility and pressing others to take initiative. How is this to be done? Join us and weigh in on how you practice citizenry online.
Here’s an excerpt from the Harper’s blog post:
Protagoras argues that in the polis, the views of all citizens are worthy of attention, and he offers as support what can only be called a democratic creation myth. The beginning of his tale looks like the usual Prometheus story. But then he adapts it to his purpose. After receiving their first set of gifts, Protagoras says, men still did not seem capable of living with one another; nor were they able to build cities or wage war. They lacked what W.R.M. Lamb translates as “the civic art.” The original Greek is πολιτικὴν τέχνην, for which the contemporary English cognates would be “political technique.” But it takes some scrambling to elaborate this: “political” in the Greek sense would relate to social interaction — so not to politics as it appears in newspaper reportage today. “Technique,” meanwhile, would refer to all the arts, skills, and crafts that humans are capable of acquiring through inductive reasoning.