Some words are just more aspirational.

Enough with the Word ‘Netizen’ (Matt Schiavenza, The Atlantic, 25 September 2013)

I was led to this article a couple of months ago via @netizenrights and have been meaning to make an annotated bookmark of it.

I do get the author’s point about the blurred/permeable/porous/sliding boundaries between the online and offline worlds. I also agree that social media activity is becoming more and more depoliticised and that is observed similarly across the world. However, I wouldn’t dismiss the word just yet; sometimes connotations of a word are more telling than the word itself.

For my own record, below is a blurb that I wrote in 2012 for Ronda for the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the publication of the printed edition of the book Netizens.

I do appreciate the significant contribution that the book has made to the discussion of democracy and the Internet. Although there might have been a shift towards a more value-neutral term ‘users’ in the field, the term ‘Netizens’ continues to prevail in democratically-still-developing countries such as China, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. I believe this tells us something.


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