Governable Spaces: Democratic Design for Online Life

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Univ of California Press, Feb 27, 2024 - Social Science - 206 pages
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When was the last time you participated in an election for an online group chat or sat on a jury for a dispute about a controversial post? Platforms nudge users to tolerate nearly all-powerful admins, moderators, and "benevolent dictators for life." In Governable Spaces, Nathan Schneider argues that the internet has been plagued by a phenomenon he calls "implicit feudalism": a bias, both cultural and technical, for building communities as fiefdoms. The consequences of this arrangement matter far beyond online spaces themselves, as feudal defaults train us to give up on our communities' democratic potential, inclining us to be more tolerant of autocratic tech CEOs and authoritarian tendencies among politicians. But online spaces could be sites of a creative, radical, and democratic renaissance. Using media archaeology, political theory, and participant observation, Schneider shows how the internet can learn from governance legacies of the past to become a more democratic medium, responsive and inventive unlike anything that has come before.
 

Contents

Democracy in the Wild
1
How the Politics of NoPolitics
40
Case Studies in Political Imagination
58
Organizing against Digital Colonialism
84
Modpol
105
Metagovernance
126
Notes on Illustrations
135
Bibliography
157
Index
195
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About the author (2024)

Nathan Schneider is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he leads the Media Economies Design Lab and the master's program in Media and Public Engagement.

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