What we need is the mainstreaming of “digital” topics - not their ghettoization in the hands and agendas of the Pirate Parties or whoever will come to succeed them. We can no longer treat the “Internet” as just another domain - like, say, “the economy” or the “environment” - and hope that we can develop a set of competencies around it. Rather, we need more topical domains - “privacy” or “subjectivity” to overtake the domain of the network. Forget an ambiguous goal like “Internet freedom” - it’s an illusion and it’s not worth pursuing. What we must focus on is creating environments where actual freedom can still be nurtured and preserved.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.