Martha Fuentes-Bautista

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Topic: Access Cultures and the Construction of Networked Citizenship in the American Technopolis

My presentation reflects on the social mediation role played by local and community organizations that advocate for greater citizen access and use of “new media” and emerging technologies. The discussion advances through the examination of different modes of information and media activism (from cable access organizations and libraries to community technology centers and community Wi-Fi groups) that in the last three decades have advocated and mobilized to increase citizen uses of “new media” in Austin, TX, an American technopolis. I’m concerned about how institutional practices of access groups, and their understandings and visions of “new media” shape technological and civic possibilities made available to the public. Through analysis of media activists’ discourses on public uses of new media, participant observation in public access sites, and socio-geographic data analysis of uses of these networks, I examine how distinct access cultures construct different possibilities of networked citizenship in the American technopolis.