Networked Proximity

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Concept and article.



"One way to define social media or participatory media is by using this concept of social relevancy. We could say that participatory media open up new possibilities for elements in a social system to be relevant to each other, to belong to the same social whole, regardless of how great or how small the physical distance between them." (



Networked proximity = nearness

Theses by Ulises Mejias:

* nearness is relevance

'Nearness' does not simply describes physical distance, but our affective relationship to something. ... Now, something that is not physically present can be part of our social environment. If something generates information and we are capable of receiving that information, it can become socially relevant.

* in a network, relevance is determined by informational availability, not physical proximity

* social networks are assemblages of human and non-human actors


networks not only describe social realities, but serve as models to organize them


Networked Proximity: ICTs and the Mediation of Nearness. Dissertation by Ulises Ali Mejias



"The network as a map of interconnected elements or nodes has become a favored metaphor for describing a wide variety of social systems in our age. But the network is transitioning from being merely a way to describe social realities to serving as a model for organizing them. The large-scale adoption of information and communication technologies is producing new architectures of networked participation in which the social subject becomes a decentralized node, unbound by location or physical space. Nearness (in terms of social proximity) acquires a new significance, since the distance between two nodes—regardless of their physical location—is practically zero, while the distance between a node and something outside the network is practically infinite. Thus, physical proximity is replaced by informational availability as the basis for experiencing social nearness, resulting in a form of networked proximity characterized simultaneously by a sense of renewed connectedness to the local (hyperlocality), and a sense of distancelessness that makes any point in the network readily accessible. Hence, critiques of networked sociality need to account for the fact that the network is neither anti-social nor anti-local: it thrives on making social connections, and is indifferent to where nodes are located in relation to the social subject (physically near or far). Instead, critiques need to focus on the epistemological exclusivity engendered by the fact that nodes are only capable of recognizing other nodes. In other words, the network imposes a nodocentric filter on the social, and only elements that can be mapped onto the network (the nodes) are rendered as real. This model is then used to institute a paradigm of progress and development in which those elements outside the network can acquire value only by becoming part of the network. The social becomes subordinate to the economics of the network, and the network becomes a model of subjectivation that prepares individuals for entrance into this form of sociality. In this context, the paranodal—the space between nodes—becomes an important site for disidentification from the network, correcting the nodocentric tendencies of networked sociality and providing alternative models of social engagement."