The starting point is Michael Warner, "Publics and Counterpublics, pdf .
Here's a summary: Publics are self-organized spaces organized by discourse. They are impersonal, and an organization of strangers. What holds a public together is that it is addressed as a public. That is, what constitutes a public is attention. It's where discourse circulates, and is circulated by. It's made of links. Publics come and go: they are located. And a public calls into existence the world it exists in. Warner writers that "a public is poetic world making." A public is heuristic, with one hand in the chora. With public, emphasis stays on the discourse. Warner's moves towards agent action and interaction.
Why is Warner's idea of a public valuable in thinking about Fedwiki?
- audience is a construct for and by mass communication of one-to-many. passive and targeted. publics are created by people as many-to-many.
- as a counterpoint or even escape from _community_
- the emphasis is on publics as generative, and the concept seeks to consider how publics are generated, evolve, disband
- the term _pubic_ more accurately describes the position of Fedwiki users, both empirically and epistemically, than does _community_.
- the term keeps the emphasis on the discourse and how it links agents, keeps a focus on the agency of attention, discourse creation, and circulation. _Community_ keeps sliding into social agency.
Fedwiki and Chora via Pattern Language
Here's a good summary of Warner's major book, _Publics and Counterpublics: webpage