Topic „Space, and the World as Network“

Apr 1st, 2014 | By | Category: Space, and the World as Network, Topics

In this topic, we want to investigate relevant aspects of a lead metaphor of recent times, namely the network, or shorter, The Net. It became a matter of Zeitgeist in recent years to be „connected“ as a central mode not only of existence but of defining ones‘ Self, and to be a good networker and part of networks evolved into a kind of myth and at the same time, into a social necessity. What it’s all about with that? What it actually means for a human condition to live in a mode of permanent connectedness, not only with regard to new forms of sociality emerging but moreover, for our very conception of ‚the world‘, and first and foremost, what we conceive as the world of relevance? Became a situation of not being connected identical with being irrelevant?

Besides human conditionings, the matter of space and of the spatial in general gains new attention. Modernity, we heard, is associated with a loss of space, and with the creation of various „non-spaces“ assigned to it (to cite Augé). But what’s about space, in particular social space, when everything is connected? Are there new forms of spatiality coming up, alongside with new forms of the social? Next to questions about their evolution, the one about the old spaces arises, those spaces which made up (before The Net) our relevant world, and hence, our very self-understanding. What happened with them? In which ways they are becoming transformed today, into so-called hybrid spaces, and what this again means for our basic conceptions of our selves and the others?

These are some of the questions and perspectives to be addressed in this topic:

  • Hyper spaces and hyped spaces: Is there other life than hybrid?
  • Private spaces – yesterday’s privilege?
  • Can networks be social?
  • Communicated spaces: Has there been a pictorial turn?
  • Communicating spaces: virtuality takes command?
  • How spatial is the digital world?

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  1. Der neue thematische Schwerpunkt ist von hoher Bedeutung für das Verständnis heutiger sozialer, mentaler und geschichtlicher Gegebenheiten. In meiner Tätigkeit als Medienkünstler (HfG Karlsruhe) erlebe ich es immer wieder, dass „das Netz“ und der Wunsch nach umfassender Vernetzung als selbstverständliche Bedingung der menschlichen Existenz angesehen wird, ohne oft hinterfragt zu werden. Was jedoch meiner Ansicht nach viel stärker geschehen müsste, da es hier nicht nur um Fragen des Datenschutzes oder die wirtschaftliche und sozial prägende Präsenz sozialer Medien geht. Sondern um das Selbstverständnis des „Users“ und die Wahrnehmung der Welt als solcher, d.h. um Fragen, die früher, vor dem Auftreten einer Always Online-Culture und ihrer Derivate, als grundlegend für die Bedingtheit des Menschen, für seine sog. conditio humana angesehen wurden. Was ist der Mensch heute, wenn er auf solche technischen hilfsmittel zu stark angewiesen ist und ohne dessen kaum kann? Gerätschaften, die ihm zwar unbeschränkte Freiheiten versprechen, ihn aber dafür umso sicherer an ein Netz aus ökonomisch und technisch vorformatierten Gegebenheiten binden?

  2. Many thanks for the addition of this timely topic. Now is indeed an apposite moment to start considering the implications of networked concepts of society on material, spatial structures. In addition to the actual connections facilitated by information technologies and increased personal mobility, I am interested in the omnipresence of the terminologies associated with the idea of a networked, connected society: connectivity, inclusivity, accessibility etc. In a Foucauldian fashion these keywords of neoliberal capitalism are becoming a reality in our engagement with space. What are the effects of this language-based development on the way spaces (online, offline and hybrid) are shaped and experienced?

    Daniel Ploeger
    Research Fellow, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

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KIT Scientific Publishing, Karlsruhe | Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts | ISSN 1868-6648