Network Society course (XII). Round Table

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

(ideas and comments from the audience at random — bundled under subjects and attributed when possible: Q noting an unidentified participant)

Participation and Engagement

Carol Darr: The importance of enhanced participation by means of web 2.0 applications.

Enrique Dans: To reflect on how events can be taken to a new stage by overcoming geographical and chronological barriers, extending the debate beyond the four walls or the conference room, beyond the scheduled dates of the programme.

Ethan Zuckerman: Do not focus on technology, but on engagement and participation.

Q: The Internet, a discovery/invention or a technological approach to an existing background? Where’s the limit of the Network Society? Can we evolve into a connected network where is people — not computers — what we physically connect, and thus create a single entity?

Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubi: the possibility to report reality from within the reality, closer to it than mass media. And the challenge to connect the offline and the online worlds, avoiding to create two different agoras.

Felipe González Gil: the Network requires constant exposition and constant competitiveness. Is this a masculine model?

Felipe González Gil: if creativity, engagement, the person behind, is what really matters, what’s the difference between a pencil and a digital camera?

Ismael Peña-López: it is not about having computers connected, but people; it is not about having some people connected to their community, but to connect communities in the “global village”; and it is not about being connected to communicate with the World, but to be connected to policy-making, to decision-taking, to the ones that matter (to us) emotionally and economically.

Getting people on the Network Society

Carlos Domingo & Genís Roca: the need to fill this gap (between the online and the offline) with some stewards that bridge both worlds, by not staying back in the web 1.0, not leaping forward the web 2.0, but trying to shift towards a web 1.5. Genís Roca stresses the fact that it is economic crisis the ones that somehow “validate” new economic and ideological models. Carlos Domingo goes back to the “goodness” of crises to “clean” old structures.

Ricard Ruiz de Querol: two different kind of unconnected people. The disconnected ones at the bottom, because they lack infrastructures or how to afford them; the disconnected ones at the top, because they lack the awareness to do it.

Doris Obermair: asking Yochai Benkler whether the problem of ICT usage was a generation related one, he answered that no, that as far as we’re running comfortable lives, there is no need to change. Only if we face a crisis we’ve got incentives to change our status quo.

Marc López: there are more people connected (to the Internet) than we might think. The question is how to reach/find them.

Q: we should set aside all the web 2.0 jargon so to avoid creating the geek vs. non-geek worlds.

Antoni Gutierrez-Rubi: to achieve the change, we have to act at the grassroots level, but also directly at the policy-making and decision-taking level.

Net Neutrality

Xavi Capdevila: the importance to get people connected, but not depending on firms, platforms, what they say or what they think or what they do.

Research and analysis on the Network Society

Tom Steinberg: two can types of research can be done. (1) Do things and reflect ex post, (2) wait until we come out with a universal truth. We should focus on hands on research, identify the benefits (and the drawbacks) and diffuse them to other communities so that projects can be replicated, adapted or just created from the experience of others.

Ethan Zuckerman: the difference between what will happen and what has happened (or is happening). Wondering about the future is great, but understanding the past and the present might even be better.

Elena Sanz: The need of a multidisciplinary approach to debate and try to understand the challenges of the Network Society.

Jaume Gatell: The Net, by providing so much knowledge to everyone, has enabled more and better communication between people. This also empowers people to engage in the analysis of what the Network Society implies. And it also implies a cultural change so necessary to be aware of the changes and how to look at them.

More info

Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “Network Society course (XII). Round Table” In ICTlogy, #61, October 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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