Networked technologies provide powerful platforms for people to share with broad audiences, but they do not necessarily democratize public life. This panel will explore how people engage with networked public spaces, the learning involved in making sense of networked publics, and the strategies that people use to navigate publics in light of their goals and social positions. The popularization of networked technologies has engendered a discourse of safety and risk, which affects both the technological infrastructures themselves, and how people view them. It also requires thinking through issues around privacy, from an interrogation of the private/public dichotomy to new concerns around information flows and control. We will critically interrogate the democratization rhetoric, raising critical questions about what it means to embrace networked public life.