Clemens Apprich (AT)

READING THE DIGITAL CITY: NEW POLITICAL TECHNOLOGIES IN THE NETWORK SOCIETY

At the beginning of the 1990s, an active media culture scene was formed to discuss both the promises and risks of recently built network technologies. This fact presents the starting point for my work, which sets out to define these pioneer projects as an experimental ground for today's network society. By tracing the spatial metaphor of the “digital city” back to its utopian dimension of an ideal space of information accumulation and preferred place of cyberdemocratic communities, we can reveal some of the implicit assumptions of existing network cultures. In this sense, the archaeological analysis defines the digital city as a specific spatial knowledge, which makes the multilayered texture of networks more legible.

Handling the current discourse over these new dynamics with Foucault's "theoretical kit" henceforth provides a specific point of view in which the description of the global network society can be confronted with a variety of local forms of knowledge. A focus on media archaeology results from the question of how technology – and respectively the discourse over technology – has been crucial for our understanding of the dominant organizational form within the information age. Hence, the network constitutes an attempt to govern our virtual age with new political technologies of space. In my lecture, I would like to present the digital city not only as a spatial metaphor to structure Cyberspace, but also as a background to a new regime of governance, which is characterized by very strong patterns of inclusion and exclusion . A fundamental critique of today's network society, therefore, has to reveal some of the fractures in this historical line of thought, in order to re-articulate the potential of alternative network cultures and their technologies.