Is public space a place, a theoretical construct, a community, a commodity, a social or political edifice, a legal premise, a figment of imagination?  How is public space determined and what forces determine how it is used? 

The following works, taken together, form a prism that allows us to look at these questions and examine their implications.  The division into sections attempts to locate points of debate and place into relief key arguments. 












McChesney, Robert W. "The Internet and U. S. Communication Policy-Making in Historical and Critical Perspective." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 1, No. 4, March, 1996.  A special joint issue with the Journal of Communication.  [Available online]  [11-12-99]. 

This article looks at the extent to which the democratic potential of the Internet can override the present corporate domination of this medium. McChesney is a communications scholar who has written on the history of broadcasting and telecommunications regulation.

Mosco, Vincent and Janet Wasco, eds. The Political Economy of Information. Madison: University of Wisconson Press, 1988.

The introduction by Mosco and an article by Dan Schiller provide scientific history of digital technology and outline theoretical turf for political analyses of information and telecommunications issues.

Rifkin, Jeremy. The Biotech Century: How Genetic Commerce Will Change The World. New York: J.P. Tarcher, 1998. 

Rifkin, Jeremy. Biosphere Politics : A New Consciousness For A New Century Biosphere Politics. New York: J.P. Tarcher, 1993. 

Both of the above texts by Rifkin document enclosure, the first, of the geographic commons, the second of the biological commons. Author is founder of Foundation for Economic Trends, a Washington-based non-profit organizationan devoted to oversight, research, and litigation in these areas. Rifkin is an attorney and economist of the Wharton School.

Wood, Ellen Meiksins. "Modernity, Post-Modernity, or Capitalism?" In Robert W. McChesney, Ellen Meiksins Wood and John Bellamy Foster, eds. Capitalism and the Information Age: The Political Economy of the Global Communication Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998. 27-50. 

This essay attempts to clarify differences between post-modern and political economic analyses and offers critical analysis of the former.



  • Does the advent of cyberspace require new analytical contructs? The following authors advocate this position, and are referred to by some as cybereconomists. 

Castells, Manuel. End of Millennium: The Information Age, Economy, Society, and Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. 

Lemley, Mark A & David McGowan "Legal Implications of Network Economic Effects." California Law Review,  May 1998, 86 Calif. L. Rev. 479 


  • The following authors differ with the ‘new economists,’ particularly on issues of intellectual property. 

Benkler, Yochai. "Free As The Air To Common Use: First Amendment Constraints on Enclosure of The Public Domain," New York University Law Review,  May, 1999,  74 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 354- 407.

Cohen, Julie E. ""Lochner In Cyberspace: The New Economic OrthodoxyOf "Rights Management." Michigan Law Review Michigan Law Review,  November, 1998. 

Lessig, Lawrence. "Social Norms, Social Meaning, and the Economic Analysis of Law," The University of Chicago Journal of Legal Studies, June 1998, 661-704.
 Lessig (Professor of Law at Harvard Law School) is one of the leading scholars of law and technology.


Foucault, Michel: Power/Knowledge. Pantheon, NY, 1972.

This is considered by post-modern scholars to be a classic analysis of the process of internalization of power.

Lessig, Lawerence, David R. Johnson and David Post. "Surveying Law and Borders: The Zones of Cyberspace." 1367 Stanford Law Review, 1996.

Sassen, Saskia . "The Internet and Sovereignty," 9 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies,1998. 

This is a response to a paper by Dean Henry Perrit, Jr. that offers insight into governance and regulation on the global level, given economic changes made possible by the Internet.


  • How do the technical structures of hardware and software govern and create codes of conduct?

American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Daedalus: Special Issue on Artifical Intelligence. Canton, MA: AAAS, 1988.

Geyer, Felix, (SISWO (Netherlands Universities' Institute for Co-ordination of Research in Social Sciences) and Johannes van der Zouwen (Department of Social Research Methodology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), eds. A Bibliography Of Social Cybernetics, third ed. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Vrije Universiteit , July 1998. [Available Online] 

Harvard Law Review (with guidance of Lawrence Lessig, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Jonathan Zittrain). "Developments in the Law: The Law of Cyberspace." 112 Harvard Law Review 1998. Includes: "Communities Virtual and Real: Social and Political Dynamics of Law in Cyberspace; The Long Arm of Cyber-reach; Internet Regulation Through Architectural Modification: The Property Rule Structure of Code Solutions; The Domain Name System: A Case Study of the Significance of Norms to Internet Governance; Cyberspace Regulation and the Discourse of State Sovereignty.

This is a concise, authoritative update and review of legal developments in cyberlaw.

Hayles, N. Katherine. "Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Wiener and Cybernetic Anxiety." Nettime listerv, August 11, 1999.

Hayles, N. Katherine. "Boundary Disputes: Homeostasis, Reflexivity, and the Foundations of Cybernetics," Configurations 2.3 (1994) 441-467.

These essays attempt to develop theoretical analyses that take into consideration post-modern thought and junction of science and the humanities. Professor Hayles is lettered in both chemistry and English.

Mesarovic, Mihajlo D., David L. McGinnis and Dalton A. West. "Cybernetics of Global Change: Human Dimension and Managing of Complexity." MOST Policy Paper No. 3. UNESCO, 1995. [Available Online] [11-22-99]

This paper provides a European perspective to understanding cybernetic change and control.

Maier, Mark W. "Social Systems Engineering and Architecture." [Available Online] [11-20-99] 

Vasishth, Ashwani. Media Imperialism and the Internet: Working Bibliography. February 1999. [Available Online] Media_Web_Imperial-bibl.htr[11-22-99]

Wiener,Norbert. Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and Machine. Cambridge: The MIT Press.1948.

This book predicts the control and communications potentials of digital communications. Wiener is the inventor of the term "cybernetics" and was a principal figure in its development.

Woodhouse, E. J. "Engineering as a Political Activity." In Technology and Society at a Time of Sweeping Change,18-23. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE, 1997.

Professor Woodhouse is an engineer and writes from that perspective.


Bad Subjects Production Team. "A Manifesto for Bad Subjects in Cyberspace." No.18, January 1995. In Bad Subjects Production Team. Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. New York: New York University Press, 1997. [Available Online] http:/

The Bad Subjects Online Collective was organized in Berkeley to provide analyses, discussion and community for critical political analyses of cyberspace, cyber-communications and cyber-culture. This manifesto is one of their key documents.

Barlow, John Perry, "Selling Wine Without Bottles: The Economy of Mind on the Global Net," Wired Magazine 1994. [Available Online]

Julian Dibbell. "A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society." In Internet Dreams, ed. Mark Stefik, 49–72, 1996.

This essay has become a classic reference for understanding MUD and MOO culture and potential.

Felsenstein, Lee. "The Commons of Information." Dr. Dobb's Journal, 18-24, May 1993.

This essay examines the Greek notion of "agora" or community space.

Lessig, Lawrence. Commons and Code. 405 Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Winter 1999. 

In this essay, Lessig sounds a note of alarm at the erosion of public interest in the propagation of intellectual property law affecting the cyber-commons.


De Bord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Paris: Gaillimard. 1967. 

DeBord is a post-modern critic.

Eco, Umberto. Travels in Hypereality. trans. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987. 

This group of essays provides critical views of social realities and manufactured culture, particularly for the U.S.,

Ewen, Stuart and Elizabeth Ewen. Channels of Desire: Mass Image and the Shaping of American Consciousness. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1992.

This book is one of several by Ewen that provide economic, political and historical perspective to to analyses of culture and communications. 

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Viking, 1985. 

This book treats the changing nature of communications and culture.


Ewen, Stuart. PR!: A Social History of Spin. New York: Basic Books, 1996. 

Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988. 
 This book offers what the authors call the "propaganda model" of public communication and mass media, with concrete examples from the world of international politics.


  • What can communications, cultural and urban geographers tell us about space?

Gillespie, Andrew and Robins Kevin. 1989. "Geographical Inequalities: The Spatial Bias Of The New Communications Technologies." Journal of Communication 39:7-18. 

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1984. 

Light, Andrew and Jonathan M. Smith, eds. "Public Space," Philosophy and Geography," Annual Issue. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1997.

Lunt, Peter. 1994. Rethinking Space And Place: The Transformation Of Cultural Geography. Journal of Environmental Psychology 14:315-326. 

Oldenberg, Ray. The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffeshops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Hangouts, and How They Get You Through the Day. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

Sassen, Saskia. 1995. Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Wilson, Alexander. 1990. The Culture of Nature: The North American Landscape from Disney to the Exxon Valdez. Cambridge: Blackwell. 


This section is the most heterogeneous by definition and by selection. There are no rigorous definitions or disciplines for either social or critical theory. What is offered below includes what is called "post-modern" (Adorno, of the Frankfurt School, for example), socio-political (Aronowitz, et al., Polyani), and others whose schools of thought may touch neither of those traditions while, at the same time, providing critical conceptual framework for examining culture.

Adorno, Theodore W. The Culture Industry and The Culture Industry Revisited. 1947. [Available Online] [11-20-99] 

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. "Is the 'Post' in 'Postcolonial' the 'Post' in 'Postmodern'?" McClintock, Anne, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat, eds. Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspective, 420-444. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 

Aronowitz, Stanley, Barbara Martinsons, and Michael Menser, eds. Technoscience and Cyberculture. New York and London: Routledge, 1996. 

Buck-Morss, Susan, Julian Stallabrass, and Leonidas Donskis, eds. Ground Control: Technology and Utopia. [London]: Black Dog Publishing, 1997. 

Chernaik, Warren, Marilyn Deegan, and Andrew Gibson, eds. Beyond the Book: Theory, Culture, and the Politics of Cyberspace. Oxford: Office for Humanities Communication Publications, 1996. 

Druckrey, Timothy, and Gretchen Bender, eds. Culture on the Brink: Ideologies of Technology. Seattle: Bay Press, 1994. 

Ferri, Paolo. "Apocalittici o Integrati." In Nerozzi Bellman, Patrizia, ed. Internet e le muse: La rivoluzione digitale nella cultura umanistica.  Milano: Mimesis, 1997. 99-111. 

Gozzi, Raymond, Jr. "Artificial Intelligence--Metaphor or Oxymoron?" Etcetera 54, 219-224, 1997. 

Gwiasda, Karl E. "Bibliography: Relations of Science to Literature and the Arts," 1997. - Configurations 7.3 (1999) 421-422 [Available Online] [11-14-99]

Habermas, J. (1989). The Structural Transformation Of The Public Sphere, Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence, Trans. Cambridge: MIT Press. (Originally published in German in 1962.) 

Haraway, Donna J. Modest Witness@Second_ Millennium. FemaleMan©_Meets_ OncoMouseTM. New York and London: Routledge, 1997. 

Irwin, Alan, and Brian Wynne, eds. Misunderstanding Science? The Public Reconstruction of Science and Technology. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 

Nye, David E. Narratives and Spaces: Technology and the Construction of American Culture. NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1997. 

Polanyi, Karl: "Our Obsolete Market Mentality" in George Dalton, ed.: Primitive, Archaic, and Modern Economies: Essays of Karl Polanyi . New York: Anchor Books, 1968. 

Rheingold, Howard. Virtual Reality. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. 

Sassower, Raphael. Technoscientific Angst: Ethics + Responsibility. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 

Smith, Anthony. Software for the Self: Technology and Culture. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. 

Stengers, Isabelle. Power and Invention: Situating Science. Trans. by Paul Bains. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 

Taylor, David. "Policing and the Community: Late Twentieth-Century Myths and Late Nineteenth-Century Realities." In  Laybourn, Keith, ed. Social Conditions, Status and Community 1860-c.1920, 104-122. Phoenix Mill [UK]: Sutton Publishing, 1997. 

Taylor, Peter J., Saul E. Halfon, and Paul N. Edwards, eds. Changing Life: Genomes, Ecologies, Bodies, Commodities. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 

Van Nostrand, A. D. Fundable Knowledge: The Marketing of Defense Technology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997. 

Waller, Marguerite R. "If ‘Reality is the Best Metaphor’, It Must Be Virtual." Diacritics 27, 90-104, 1997. 

Wright, Will, and Steven Kaplan, eds. "The Image of the Frontier in Literature, the Media, and Society."  Selected Papers, 1997 Conference, Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery. Pueblo, CO: Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery, University of Southern Colorado, 1997. 

Last modified: 15 December 1999
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