A Networked Self, edited by Zizi Papacharissi, is a book of numerous studies and articles by a variety of authors that deal with subjects of identity, community, culture and social network sites. Chapter two of the book is “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics. Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications,” by Danah Boyd. In this chapter Boyd first states what a networked public is, “Networked Publics are publics that are restructured by networked technologies,” (Papacharissi, 39). He then goes onto to say that these networks create a space and are similar to other publics in the fact that they allow people to connect and come together for different social, political, and cultural purposes. An example these networked publics can be seen in the social networking site Twitter. Twitter has a network of people all around the world and these people discuss everything from the 2014 Olympics happening right now, to the Boston Marathon bombings that happened last April. This particular chapter made me think of a topic I researched last year dealing with the “Arab Spring” of 2011.
In 2011 during the Arab Spring many Middle Eastern and North African countries were involved in intense political conflict. During this time the people involved used Twitter as a resource to connect with the outside world. Now the majority of the population did not have access to smart phones or Twitter at this time, but enough people were able to use this resource and make it effective. During times of political conflict using the weak ties of Twitter, users are able to create hashtags and user generated content, and provide real time updates. In Tahir square people were using the hashtag #Tahirneeds to let the public on Twitter know resources the hospitals and others needed. Some may question the credibility of Twitter and there is a lack of empirical research on the site, but it still proves to be a valuable resource to create external attention and reach out to others all over the world. You can still go online and read tweets from this particular time at, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/14/tahrir-square-tweet-egyptian-uprising. Or if interested, you can also read more about it in the book, Tweets from Tahir.
Twitter creates a public space where individuals involved in conflict and not directly involved in conflict can come together and share their stories and news in real time. Going back to chapter two in A Netorked Self, Boyd also writes “Networked publics are not just publics networked together, but they are publics that have been transformed by networked media, its properties, and its potential” (Papacharissi, 42). I see a lot of potential when it comes to Twitter because it creates a public space that is available to mass amounts of people and it brings the news or whatever they want to discuss directly to them. I personally use twitter as my own custom newspaper. I subscribe to a weekend print version of the Wall Street Journal, but other than that I rely on Twitter for everything else. I do not have to actively go look at every news sites webpage, I can simply follow the people I trust on Twitter and have them bring the news to me. Of course there are some concerns of accuracy and false information of Twitter, but I think that is true of any news source online and it is up to the reader to make good judgment calls. That is another great thing about twitter as a public space; if a major event is happening there will be many different people and companies tweeting about it, which gives us multiple sources to gain information and tell if that information is adding up correctly. Overall I like that Boyd mentioned Twitter as a public space because I believe it to be a valuable resource when used correctly.