Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
  Information Technology Systems as Publics, by John Monberg

The Reality of Technology Diminishing Communication

Much so-called communication technology actually diminishes communication. I defend this claim by giving examples of the rhetoric surrounding the social and political changes associated with advanced computer/communication technology and then explain why these consequences are better framed when communication technologies are understood as constituting publics.

I use communication technology in the banking industry as an example and use the term "public" as an analytic lens to identify threats to meaningful public dialogue.

It is useful to consider the Internet, interactive cable television, community freenets, email discussion lists, and similar socio-technical systems as --publics that are constituted/mediated by information technology. These technologies can never transcend space, time, or social relations; but they may constitute new patterns of social interaction. Framing questions in terms of key tensions defining "public" expands the territory open to communicative/rhetorical analysis.

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