8

The Shape of Public Engagement

What sort of relationship exists between the properties of maps and the collaborative work done to extract and map the radiation data? Walter Lippmann and John Dewey provide tools to investigate that question. They both highlight the involvement of the public in controversies. Crossing their contribution with a Sciences and Technology Studies (STS) approach [MAR 05a, MAR 09] sheds light on the relation between the material properties of maps and the way they shaped online engagement in the present case study. The public participation in the production of radiation data and their mapping is here characterized as a “foam” [RIE 10]; it is based on “low cooperation” [CAR 10] and relies on the “synchorization” of online spaces [BEA 12]. Furthermore, what was the lifecycle of the mobilization? The public involved was spontaneous and did not produce a common infrastructure to share the radiation data. This was due both to the heterogeneity of the participants involved and also to the shortness of the applications’ lifespan, as these were created to respond to an urgent need for information rather than being long-term solutions.

8.1. An emerging online public

Walter Lippmann and John Dewey laid the foundations for reflection on the role of socio-technical controversies in society and their impact on the emergence of a public in politics. Noortje Marres bases her work on these authors and stresses the need to take into account the material nature of controversial ...

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