The Information Age: Transborder Communicative Capacity
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Conventional public sphere theory is ill-placed to evaluate the import of cross-border communicative flows, as it presupposes an alliance between political territory and the circulation of dialogue. This fit once seemed so close that some have made the extrapolation that public spheres require a physical locale and proximate interlocutors. This misapprehension is perhaps partly encouraged by the terminology of public sphere theory. It is unfortunate that the imagery of face-to-face interaction is encouraged by repeated allusions to reflexive dialogue. In fact, virtuality has been a central feature of the public sphere in most of its historical manifestations, that is to say that discourse has been conducted at a distance (Warner, 2002). Mediated dialogue is a necessary feature of any large-scale, complex social organization, providing the only means of interaction between spatially dispersed actors. Therefore there is no a priori reason why transnational mediated communication should be incompatible with critical publicity.