From: Big Red Jeff Rubard on
Civic Networking
Jeff Rubard

In recent comments, I was talking to Union Street‘s Andrew about a
longtime hobby-horse of mine, “theoretical republicanism”. A lot of
signification is based on composing a view of the world that you want
people to find compelling, maybe even over and above your proper
purchase on them as a political subject: this has its place, but if
equalitarian political structures are to work there has to be a
certain structural equalitarianism in the field of discourse. It seems
to me that one way this can come about is through what we might call
“civic networking”: mapping signification onto a geographical plat.
Here in Oregon we have a blog aggregator, ORBlogs, that tracks a wide
variety of state blogs: maybe it’s not exactly the best that is
thought and said in the world, but it gives an accurate impression of
the “lay of the land” for this state, which is a real sociopolitical

Perhaps this sort of mapping could be intentionally cultivated at
local levels: although you don’t always want your neighbors to know
exactly what you’re up to, there are real political relations that
computer-mediated communication could enable rather than suppress and
a civic culture of “connectivity” might be worth having as a way to
flesh out the real potentials of the place where you live. I don’t
know how this would be done: I’m not sure “mini-Minitels” for cities
would be a worthwhile investment as against independent initiatives,
but there are limits to how much market-directed recomposition of
interests and social formations would be desirable. You live
somewhere, and your maxims and opinions find their role within that
social space; maybe it’s important to have a way to have a relatively
accurate understanding of what such role you are playing.