Radical infrastructure: Building beyond the failures of past imaginaries for networked communication

Britt S. Paris, Corinne Cath, Sarah Myers West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ongoing political, environmental, and economic crises require infrastructures that can respond to crises in ways that do not replicate and reinforce inequality. To this end, we use a case study method of analysis that compares the authors’ previous work on Internet infrastructure at the levels of development, governance, and use to explore how these imaginaries promote or impede people-centered change in the development and maintenance of Internet infrastructure. This theoretical work puts the three existing cases in conversation to better understand how Internet infrastructure alternatives presented as radical, new, or non-hierarchical present shortcomings and opportunities, so that it might be more possible to imagine better, more truly radical, people-centered alternatives. From this comparison, we close our discussion with three heuristics for radical infrastructure: the need for pushing for alternative ensembles of support, busting the myth of technosolutionism, re-politicizing Internet infrastructure, and encouraging technical communities to build around cooperativity, not connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Cryptography
  • ethics of care
  • Future Internet Architecture
  • IETF
  • Internet infrastructure
  • Internet Protocol
  • science and technology studies
  • sociotechnical imaginaries
  • technosolutionism


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