A journal by any other name would be as sweet!
It has been an intense, thought-provoking week for the first week back for Public Texts students. After a very technical semester of learning the history of physical book culture, we have moved into the realm of difficult theories, particularly those of Michael Warner and Jürgen Habermas, concerning none other than the big one, the PUBLIC SPHERE.
But before we can even begin to start at the beginning about thinking of the public sphere, we need to define what it is we’re talking about when think of a public.
Perhaps we’ll start with the 5 W’s:
WHO makes up a public?
WHAT does a public do?
WHERE is a public formed?
WHEN does a public make an impact?
WHY do publics even exist?
Oh, and we can’t forget the H:
HOW do publics come into being?
These are all very important and interesting questions, not to mention kind of important to know when you’re in a PUBLIC texts program.
However let’s completely forget all these questions right now and come back to them in a second.
At the same time we consider the function of a public, Walter Ong discusses literacy and the limitations of print texts as they circulate in the public. He problematizes the technology of writing because of its inability to create conversation and respond to challenging opinions and thoughts.
However, Ong’s critique of print culture now has a solution: the Internet.
The Internet, and blogs in particular (like this one!) allow opinions to circulate and readers can respond directly to the author, creating a conversation similar to one that would occur during an oral speech or presentation.
Now, connecting all these brilliant and seemingly unrelated ideas, I offer you readers this challenge: take a stab at answering one of the questions I posed above about the public. We’re going to turn Ong’s theory on its head, and use the technology of writing to create a conversation and allow the ideas to flow!