What are the media-technological criteria for free speech? In this talk, I examine the concept of "critical infrastructure," in the sense of various types of media apparatus necessary for the free expression of critical thought. I begin with a consideration of the concept of parrhesia, a Greek term used by Foucault to examine certain types of free speech. In a communication landscape largely mediated by software technologies and digital networks, there is a tendency to conceptualize these networks through models such as the frontier or the public square. However, considering issues such as ownership and visibility, I argue that the networks through which we communicate are really more like a shopping mall: pseudo-public spaces operated primarily by commercial business interests. Examples such as open source software and distributed mesh networks are posited as sites in which we might locate more viable spaces for speaking freely.
The mapping project "Campus Medius" has recently been submitted for publication in the online journal Sensate. It is being peer-reviewed over summer, and will be produced in fall. By posting the proposal of their media-historical project on the foucaultblog, Simon Ganahl and Rory Solomon seek to receive feedback on all aspects of "Campus Medius," in particular on its theoretical background and technological implementation. The authors look forward to reading your comments and to discussing any objections or suggestions you may have.