Defining the Third Space

What is the third space? The concept of the third space has been used as a sociocultural term to designate communal space, as distinct from the home (first space) or work (second space). The third space has been defined as a nightclub or sports arena or museum where the individual can experience a transformative sense of self, identity and relation to others.

With this social definition as a backdrop, the third space in the context of the online medium can be thought of as another form of transformative social space: a way of describing the social dynamics and culture of networked space. To further situate this transposition of the third space into the realm of the telematic, we can now redefine the first and second spaces as the physical (first space) and the remote (second space). When we unite or collapse these two distinction of space, we discover a third space, inhabited collectively by remote participants who are geographically dispersed, but nonetheless, still engaged in the social dynamic of networked interaction.

The third space thus involves the fusion of local and remote participants simultaneously or asynchronously. Furthermore, the experience of blurring real and remote spatial dimensions is heightened in the third space through the collapse of boundaries, when participants feel engaged through the ability to defy distance and connect no matter where. Our new concept of the third space thus extends the model of the transformative social space into the online medium by suggesting a hybrid space that allows remote participants to transcend the limitations of spatial, geographic, and cultural differences as they engage with one another across vast distances.

This transcendence of the laws of the known world is what opens the door to the heightened, extra-sensory qualities of third space experience, altering our sense of identify, reducing inhibition, igniting self-expression, just as the nightclub or stadium operates as an arena for socially heightened moments that extend individual behavior and emotion. Here lies the rationale for the Third Space Network: a place to activate the third space through forms of creativity, social interaction, and artistic expression that have erupted in the age of the network.