The Internet and Public Discourse

Phil Agre


Many legal systems, for example in the United States, have had difficulty comprehending the Internet because incompatible precedents based on so many existing media (post, telephone, newspaper, street corner, etc.) seem to apply. The Internet frustrates these traditional analogies because it is really a meta-medium: a set of layered services that make it easy to construct new media with almost any properties one likes. Despite this great flexibility, however, the dynamics of technical standards are emerging as a potentially conservative force. To help in mapping afresh the legal and political concerns that the Internet has raised, this article sketches a series of four models of the interaction between Internet architecture and public discourse.

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2019. ISSN 1396-0466.