The Digital Public

After reading the text, I would define a “digital public” as a sphere in which individuals come together to discuss, identify, examine, and possibly even debate problems that are occurring in society on the Internet rather than doing so face-to-face. When individuals are online, they can feel as though they’re a part of the public spheres in lots of ways. For example, they can join networks and/or social media sights that connect them with others from across the globe, like Tumblr. On Tumblr, they can post freely, submitting blog posts about ideas, situations, crises, and so on. It’s possible for individuals to reply and to reblog these posts, which creates more interacting publicly.

However, there are cases in which people participate online without wanting to a be part of the public or public sphere. A good example, I think, is when people make a Facebook account. Generally individuals make a Facebook account to interact with others but only a limited amount and certain type of people. They choose who they want to interact with by friending certain people and accepting requests from particular people. Also, they select settings that restrict what other people see on their profile, even the individuals they’re friends with. For instance, you can hide your birthday to the public and your friends too, make it so that the public cannot click on any of your photos (including your profile picture), and more. Profiles can be made completely private, limiting who sees what on your profile.

Reading this text has helped me believe it is important to differentiate the “digital public” from the “digital community.” From my understanding, a digital community can be limited to certain people or groups, which relates to the idea of private or public Facebook profile. On the other hand, a digital public encompasses all the digital communities because it is the process and idea of digitally discussing/debating/sharing the information within the public sphere.


5 thoughts on “The Digital Public

  1. Bayleigh,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. It’s direct and informative, and the whole topic ties in perfectly with what we’re actually doing – an internet discussion that we would have completed face-to-face. I especially like your definition of a digital public and your contrast of Tumblr and Facebook.

    In my post, I responded to Castells’ quote and how I interpret his feelings about blogs, creativity on the internet, etc. I think we can relate our two posts since digital publics and digital communities can be challenged by the idea of “actual” communication. What are your thoughts about Castells and his disdain for using social networking sites for personal use (such as posting blogs, pictures, etc.)? Are you as offended as I was or am I just taking it personally since I am one of those people using the internet for personal, creative enjoyment and not politics? And in regards to the different privacy settings on sites, what do you think Castells makes of that? If he believes these sites should be used for the “exchange of information,” maybe he thinks privacy settings are stifling that. Maybe he wants things to be more like a productive public forum.


    • I feel as though I am like you and have a different opinion than Castells. I use social media for person use more than I ever use it for political reasons, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all so I totally do not understand why that’s a bad thing by his standards. Castells would probably consider privacy settings wrong, but again, I’m going to have to agree to disagree with him on this point. 🙂


  2. I like how you gave the definition of digital public” and gave Facebook as an example. We all our engrossed in digital public one way or another. It’s really normal to ask a person for their Facebook name, Instagram name, and so forth. We follow them on those two devices and also on Vine, Twitter, and Spotify. We chat and make comments, look through pictures and videos, add/delete individual(s), like the picture, video, comment.
    So do you think that in a “digital public” we have more choice than in a “digital community”?


  3. I was very excited to see that we share the same basic ideals on the distinction between digital public and digital communities; however, I noticed that you also brought up very interesting points which escaped my attention. For instance, while we both agree that sites, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, can exist as both digital publics and digital communities, it never occurred to me even within digital communities, you can opt to hide information from those in your closest circles. In this way, I think we see a new type of interaction which brings about a whole new set of questions. For example, if someone is registered on a site, such as Facebook, yet makes their profile completely “private” and refrains from actively interacting with other users, are they still considered members of the digital public or of the digital community? Does someone have to interact with the larger community to be a part of that community or does their mere presence allow them to identify as a member of that community?


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