Augmented Urban Spaces: Articulating the Physical and Electronic City

De Cindio, F & Aurigi, A 2008, Augmented Urban Spaces : Articulating the Physical and Electronic City, Design and the Built Environment Series, Ashgate, Aldershot, Hampshire, England. (De Cindio & Aurigi 2008)

Introduction: Augmented Urban Spaces

Premise is that the online and media technology communication explosion has led to changes in the ways people live in and use cities.  1

  • Competing views that the online environment could either lead to ‘the demise of the city altogether’ or the establishment of ‘a parallel, “virtual” city enhancing, rather than annihilating, the physical one.’ 1
  • Gives the backgrounds of the two authors – one an urban planner/architect with a vision for ICT to be an integral part of people’s communication and usage of modern urban spaces, the other a computer scientist/software designer, who uses an understanding of architecture and sociology to inform her software design.  2
  • Outlines the structure of the book – part 1 about the interrelationship of physical and digital environments, with research studies – the purpose being to use this information to inform the optimum development of ‘the public sphere of the city’, part 2 about the social aspects of urban space – the communities that make them up, and their “augmentation” – and ‘what this can mean for the enhancement of democratic participation, public discourse, and shared knowledge.’  Part 3 explores issues and challenges of designing urban spaces as they are increasingly augmented by digital communication.  Notes that there will always be some spontaneity in this – 2

chapter 3: Mobile networks, urban places and emotional spaces by Heesang Lee

  • Mobile phone use leads to a blurring of the boundary between public and private activities and responsibilities (e.g. work) – i.e. people continue their private lives at work, and in public, and can also take their public life to their private spaces (even more so now, through ‘smart’ phones and ultra-portable tablets)  42
  • The over-exposure to new places, vicariously through mobile technology, can lead to a ‘sense of uncertainty, insecurity and confusion.’ 43
  • In 1:1 communications (on mobile phones) people need to orient themselves with each other through asking ‘where are you?’ and then ‘what are you doing?’ 44
  • The mobile phone transforms the user’s body  ‘into a “cyborg”in Haraway’s (1991) terms.’  This becomes a “cyborg urbanization”  44
  • The location of the ‘bodies with mobiles’ can be a technological indicator of the congregations of people 45 (the author says ‘the mobile phone can play a role as a kind of GPS’ 45 – however, mobile phones now – since the article was written – use GPS to position the person in space – GPS is more than just an ap)
  • Mobile technology enables an individual to inhabit more than one space at any one time – e.g. being on the phone, or accessing information from a remote site, or logged on to a remote computer.
  • Elucidates a study of mobile phone usage by young people in Korea (early 2000s).  46-47
  • Postulates that mobile phone usage, rather than disengaging people from their local communities, actually enhance them – and create a new social networking.  Notes that, even in early 2000s students used their phones for communication more than their email accounts.  Used the phone more for social/friends etc. Email more for more formal/public affairs, and for less familiar acquaintances.   48
  • Postulates that the large numbers of phone numbers in phone memory are an indicate to the owner that these people are ‘friends’ perhaps in the same way as they might now have superseded this ‘Facebook friends’.  50  Outlines four types of acquaintance in stored phone nos – old friends, who live close by, those who are remote in location but still real friends, those who one needs to communicate with on business or other non-friendship reasons (e.g. a doctor), those who are ‘online’ friends – with whom one has no real-world acquaintanceship.  50
  • Notes the immediacy of the mobile phone – instant communication leading to quick organisation of the social life etc.  52
  • People may be ‘living online’ doing most of the communication digitally.
  • Young people may equate popularity with frequency of mobile device contact – and a withdrawal like symptom if for some reason the mobile phone cannot be used.  54

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