Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0

Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0

Dan Shang (France Telecom Research and Development, Beijing, China), Jean-François Doulet (University of Provence (Aix-Marseille 1), France) and Michael Keane (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch026
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This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social life. The key question raised by this study is how the Internet and mobile technologies are affecting the way people make use of urban space. The chapter begins with some background to China’s emergence as a connected nation. It then looks at common use of web-based and mobile phone technologies, particularly bulletin boards, SMS and instant messaging. The chapter then presents findings of recent research that illustrates communitarian relationships that are enabled by mobility and the use of technologies. Finally, these findings are contextualized in the idea of the City 2.0 in China.
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Urbanization in mainland China has increased dramatically during the past two decades. The urbanized population of China spiraled from 215 million in 1982 to 410 million in 2000, increasing to 32 percent of the total population (Friedmann 2005: 133 n17; see also Donald and Benewick 2005, 27). According to one authoritative source, by 2014 an estimated 40.2 percent of the Chinese population will be urbanized (Garner et al 2005, 67). New cities have emerged and many existing towns and regions have been reclassified as cities. According to Mars and Hornsby (2008), twenty new cities are constructed per year, a phenomenon that is likely to continue until the year 2020.

Urbanization has brought with it great social change. The last two decades of the twentieth century were characterized by widespread economic reforms and population shifts to cities, in part due to the reclassification of many non-urban household registrations (hukou) to urban districts. Many traditional social maintenance structures have subsequently come under stress; people have been forced to acquire new skills in order to survive in a changing urban landscape and to develop strategies to seek out jobs, housing preferences and possessions.

Migration has impacted upon the spatial transformation of cities. Unskilled semi-literate workers from the countryside now provide labor for the construction of high-rise gated apartments that house China’s aspiring white collar classes. Bulldozers and wrecking balls relentlessly demolish historic factories and traditional courtyard residences (hutongs)—and with this, traditional ways of life (see Zhou 2006). In this radical makeover of urban space overpasses, underpasses, ring roads, technology parks, theme parks, shopping malls and convention centers are the material manifestations of economic development.

This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social life. China provides a contrast with other studies in this book. China is ‘in-between’, less creative and technologically literate than its neighbors Korea and Japan, but ascending fast in its desire to compete as an equal in the knowledge-based society of the new millennium. In many respects China is also less tolerant of disruptive social behavior than some of the other robust democracies discussed elsewhere in this collection. One of the key questions raised by this chapter therefore is how the Internet and mobile technologies affect the way people use and understand urban space. Furthermore, how do ICTs reconstruct communication networks in ways that allow people to feel a sense of connection and shared identity without causing the ruling regime to fear mass social uprising? Following some background information that acknowledges China’s technological ‘leap forward’, we present findings of research that shows the relationship between urban mobility and the creative use of communication technologies. One of the conventional indicators of urban mobility is the automobile (Doulet and Flonneau 2003). We examine perceptions of urban space, strategies to master city trips through the use of web-based technologies, and community celebration of urban experience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collective Mobility: Trips are motivated by a more open sociability and individuals adopting mobility behaviors that are instigated by one or more social groups; for example, a car club self-driving tour.

Urban Mobility: The whole of trips generated daily by the inhabitants of a city, and the methods and conditions associated with such trips (modes of transport selected, length of trip, time spent in transport, etc.)

Collaborative Spatiality: The perception, as well as the experience, of urban spaces is partly shaped by the collaborative activities within groups. For example, through car club BBS, people build a “City-Wiki” including trip routes, cheap parking manuals and a GPS guidebook to share their mobility experience and knowledge.

City 2.0: A new expression designating new approaches to organizing a city along the principles of Web 2.0, inviting participation from citizens to define urban services, a more widely shared type of urbanism.

Sociability Pattern: The way individuals build their social circles and the interactions between these circles.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Anthony Townsend
Marcus Foth
Marcus Foth
Chapter 1
Amanda Williams, Erica Robles, Paul Dourish
This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the... Sample PDF
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Chapter 2
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To Connect and Flow in Seoul: Ubiquitous Technologies, Urban Infrastructure and Everyday Life in the Contemporary Korean City
Chapter 3
Nancy Odendaal
Recent literature on African cities examines the way in which social networks function as critical livelihood arteries in the ongoing survival... Sample PDF
Creating an Analytical Lens for Understanding Digital Networks in Urban South Africa
Chapter 4
Wayne Beyea
Community planning is facing many challenges around the world, such as the rapid growth of megacities as well as urban sprawl. The State of Michigan... Sample PDF
Place Making Through Participatory Planning
Chapter 5
Mike Ananny, Carol Strohecker
In this paper, we describe the design and installation of a new kind of public opinion forum—TexTales, a public, large-scale interactive projection... Sample PDF
TexTales: Creating Interactive Forums with Urban Publics
Chapter 6
Jenny Preece
This chapter describes a small networked community in which residents of an apartment building in Washington, D.C., USA supplement their... Sample PDF
An Event-Driven Community in Washington, DC: Forces That Influence Participation
Chapter 7
Fiorella De Cindio
After more than a decade of e-participation initiatives at the urban level, what remains obscure is the alchemy—i.e., the “arcane” combination of... Sample PDF
Moments and Modes for Triggering Civic Participation at the Urban Level
Chapter 8
Michael Veith
Societies face serious challenges when trying to integrate migrant communities. One-sided solutions do not pay tribute to the complexity of this... Sample PDF
Fostering Communities in Urban Multi-Cultural Neighbourhoods: Some Methodological Reflections
Chapter 9
Victor M. Gonzalez, Kenneth L. Kraemer, Luis A. Castro
The practical use of information technology devices in domestic and residential contexts often results in radical changes from their envisioned... Sample PDF
Beyond Safety Concerns: On the Practical Applications of Urban Neighbourhood Video Cameras
Chapter 10
Colleen Morgan
This chapter explores how we may design located information and communication technologies (ICTs) to foster community sentiment. It focuses... Sample PDF
The Figmentum Project: Appropriating Information and Communication Technologies to Animate Our Urban Fabric
Chapter 11
Barbara Crow, Michael Longford, Kim Sawchuk, Andrea Zeffiro
The Mobile Media Lab (MML) is a Canadian interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, mobile technologies and locative media... Sample PDF
Voices from Beyond: Ephemeral Histories, Locative Media and the Volatile Interface
Chapter 12
Helen Klaebe
This chapter defines, explores and Illustrates research at the intersection of people, place and technology in cities. First, we theorise the notion... Sample PDF
Embedding an Ecology Notion in the Social Production of Urban Space
Chapter 13
Vassilis Kostakos, Eamonn O’Neill
In this paper, we describe a platform that enables us to systematically study online social networks alongside their real-world counterparts. Our... Sample PDF
Cityware: Urban Computing to Bridge Online and Real-World Social Networks
Chapter 14
Katharine S. Willis
In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by information which weaves itself silently into the very fabric of our existence. Much of the time we act... Sample PDF
Information Places: Navigating Interfaces between Physical and Digital Space
Chapter 15
Viktor Bedö
This chapter contributes to the ongoing effort to understand the nature of locative urban information by proposing that locative urban information... Sample PDF
A Visual Approach to Locative Urban Information
Chapter 16
Tristan Thielmann
Car navigation systems, based on “augmented reality,” no longer direct the driver through traffic by simply using arrows, but represent the... Sample PDF
Navigation Becomes Travel Scouting: The Augmented Spaces of Car Navigation Systems
Chapter 17
Daisuke Tamada
A lot of street view services, which present views of urban landscapes, have recently appeared. The conventional method for making street views... Sample PDF
QyoroView: Creating a Large-Scale Street View as User-Generated Content
Chapter 18
Hideyuki Nakanishi, Toru Ishida, Satoshi Koizumi
Many research projects have studied various aspects of smart environments including smart rooms, home, and offices. Few projects, however, have... Sample PDF
Virtual Cities for Simulating Smart Urban Public Spaces
Chapter 19
Andrew Hudson-Smith
Digital cities are moving well beyond their original conceptions as entities representing the way computers and communications are hard wired into... Sample PDF
The Neogeography of Virtual Cities: Digital Mirrors into a Recursive World
Chapter 20
Laura Forlano
This chapter introduces the role of community wireless networks (CWNs) in reconfiguring people, places and information in cities. CWNs are important... Sample PDF
Codespaces: Community Wireless Networks and the Reconfiguration of Cities
Chapter 21
Katrina Jungnickel, Genevieve Bell
From WiFi (802.11b) with its fixed and mobile high-speed wireless broadband Internet connectivity to WiMAX (802.16e), the newest wireless protocol... Sample PDF
Home is Where the Hub Is? Wireless Infrastructures and the Nature of Domestic Culture in Australia
Chapter 22
Andres Sevtsuk
This chapter presents the iSPOTS project, which collects and maps data of WiFi usage on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in... Sample PDF
Mapping the MIT Campus in Real Time Using WiFi
Chapter 23
John M. Carroll
We discuss the vision, plan, and status of a research project investigating community-oriented services and applications, comprising a wireless... Sample PDF
Supporting Community with Location-Sensitive Mobile Applications
Chapter 24
Christine Satchell
Early 21st century societies are evolving into a hybrid of real and synthetic worlds where everyday activities are mediated by technology. The... Sample PDF
From Social Butterfly to Urban Citizen: The Evolution of Mobile Phone Practice
Chapter 25
Jong-Sung Hwang
u-City is South Korea’s answer to urban community challenges leveraging ubiquitous computing technology to deliver state-of-the-art urban services.... Sample PDF
u-City: The Next Paradigm of Urban Development
Chapter 26
Dan Shang, Jean-François Doulet, Michael Keane
This chapter examines the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban China, focusing mainly on their impact on social... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics in China: Exploring the Emergence of the Chinese City 2.0
Chapter 27
Francesco Calabrese
The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and handheld electronic devices in recent years allows for a new approach to... Sample PDF
WikiCity: Real-Time Location-Sensitive Tools for the City
Chapter 28
Eric Paulos, RJ Honicky, Ben Hooker
In this chapter, we present an important new shift in mobile phone usage—from communication tool to “networked mobile personal measurement... Sample PDF
Citizen Science: Enabling Participatory Urbanism
Chapter 29
Mark Shepard
What happens to urban space given a hypothetical future where all information loses its body, that is, when it is offloaded from the material... Sample PDF
Extreme Informatics: Toward the De-Saturated City
Chapter 30
Roger J. Burrows
Is it still the case that one can symptomatically read the early work of the cyberpunk author William Gibson as a form of prefigurative urban theory... Sample PDF
Urban Informatics and Social Ontology
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