ABSTRACT: Ever since the emergence the internet, people have used it to exchange ideas, values, to communicate on matters of public and private interest. Soon, countless online communication platforms, communities and social networks were created to cater to this need. On the background of a deepening failure of traditional media to promote an inclusive, democratic, reflexive public dialogue, more and more researchers are looking to the more egalitarian new media as a hope for a revitalized public sphere. At the same time, others argue that these new communication platforms are unsuited for generating more than private opinions and pose a great number of challenges of their own. However, regardless of the stance taken, many of these researchers have attempted to solve the problem of the ability of online communities to foster a new public sphere by asking the wrong questions and not asking some important right ones. This paper seeks to draw attention to some crucial elements that must be taken into consideration by anyone who is interested in the subject of a possible online public sphere, shifting focus from the “if” such a reality could be possible and directing it towards the “what would it need in order to happen”.
KEYWORDS: public sphere, online communities, Habermas, public opinion, new media.