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[liberationtech] Self-determined publics

Sebastian Benthall sbenthall at
Mon Jul 29 22:47:37 PDT 2013

I really like the way you frame this. Please do share anything you find on

You might find interesting (if you haven't seen it already) Chris Kelty's
term *recursive public*, which he uses to describe geekdom (with an
emphasis on open source software communities) as a whole.

"A recursive public is a public that is vitally concerned with the material
and practical maintenance and modification of the technical, legal,
practical, and conceptual means of its own existence as a public; it is a
collective independent of other forms of constituted power and is capable
of speaking to existing forms of power through the production of actually
existing alternatives."

If you'll forgive the self-promotion, you might find this work on Weird
Twitter (an on-line community not unlike what you describe) and symbolic
bounded network communities of interest.

On Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 9:45 PM, Michael Allan <mike at> wrote:

> Folks,
> Below I define what I call "self-determined publics".  Has anything
> similar been attempted before?
>    A self-determined public is an open, topical community that
>    proclaims the definitive bounds of its own communications.  The
>    proclamation takes the form of a timely sequence of references
>    (e.g. web links) each pointing to a communication of the public,
>    such that all references together define the total of that public's
>    communications in time and space.  For example:
>        Ago     Place      Title              (click to visit thread)
>       -------  ---------  ------------------------------------------
>       17 min   r/Foo      How do we attach the doohickey?
>        5 hr    Foo-L      The problem with so and so's proposal.
>        1 day   FuBarz     Who are these Foos, anyway?
>        1 day   r/Foo      This, that, and the next thing.
>        2 days  FooStack   What's the best thingamy for such and such?
>               . . . and so on
>    The boundary proclamation is similar in form to a conventional news
>    feed.  It concerns a specific topic or category.  Differences are
>    in a) the exclusion of mass communications, b) the claim to
>    totality, and c) the self-determination that redeems that claim.
>    (a) A principle criterion for inclusion is that one may immediately
>    join any of the referenced communications as a peer.  One-way, mass
>    communications are excluded.
>    (b) The boundary proclamation claims to cover the entire public
>    discussion of the topic across all communication media and sites.
>    It claims to be the most complete, accurate and timely overview of
>    the extended discussion that is available anywhere.
>    (c) This claim is redeemed by the public members themselves who
>    submit the references, self-organize the necessary labour, and
>    self-constitute the necessary government.  No aspect of this
>    redeeming self-determination is controlled by an external
>    authority.
> I'm looking for brief pointers, please.  I don't know of any actual
> implementations of this, or projects that are working on it.  I'll
> share what's found.
> --
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
> --
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