A Theoretical Model for Digital Reverberations of City Spaces and Public Places

A Theoretical Model for Digital Reverberations of City Spaces and Public Places

Christopher Zimmerman (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark), Kjeld Hansen (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) and Ravi Vatrapu (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark & Norwegian School of Information Technology (NITH), Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8614-4.ch088


The increasing pervasiveness of Internet connected devices and services is altering the perception and practice of public spaces through the provisioning of location-specific digital information. Location-aware technologies allow people to access, annotate, address and attach information to locations, which transforms the space for other people who use the same services. Such locations acquire relevance and reshape social and spatial interactions through increased use on social media as people ‘check-in' to places, photograph or ‘like' them. Collectively the authors are marking-up the city around them. The popularization of location-aware technologies thus contributes to the changing meaning of locations in cities. In contrast to the technological focus in the emerging discourses on smart cities and big data, this paper offers an alternative view of the three lenses of Social, Local and Mobile technologies that describe and explain crowd-sourced socio-technical layers on the city landscape. The proposed integrated theoretical model describes the relevant information linkages between people and places in the online and offline worlds and introduces a new evaluation method for the evaluation of city places: affinity spectrum of social endorsements. The authors conclude with a discussion of the new opportunities for governments to better understand socially emergent ‘urban qualities' and how citizens construct and appreciate them in order better convert city places into public spaces.
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The evolution of touchscreen smartphones with high-speed mobile broadband, wireless Internet access, and mobile apps is resulting in a “concomitant convergence” (Vatrapu, 2013) of technologies, terminals, and services. This is further evidenced by the slogan “there’s an app for that” with regard to erstwhile services. Social Media leads to new social sphere. Public space and public place constitutes physical arenas of public sphere. This research-in-progress paper seeks to outline issues in and aspects of how the mobility turn and participatory turn are changing perceptions and use of public places and how it affects the City's opportunity to govern such spaces and places

In his monumental book “The Production of Space”, Henri Lefebvre(1991) explicitly maps the human experiential realms of perceived, conceived, and lived onto their spatial counterparts in spatial practice, representations of space and representational space. According to Lefebvre, spatial practice, under neocapiltalism, is constituted by the close association between daily reality and urban reality. Spatial practice as such permits empirical analysis of the social members’ specific competencies and performances (a distinction Lefebvre acknowledges as borrowing from Noam Chomsky). Representations of space refer to the abstract conceived spaces of the technocrats and bureaucrats of the state and the social sciences professionals. The representational spaces are directly experienced and such are lived by users and inhabitants.

Countries such as Portugal, Switzerland and those in Scandinavia are noticeably developed in social landscaping, (See Figure 1) making them prime candidates for listening to their urban citizens.

Figure 1.

The geo-information layers in Google Maps (Economist, 2012, p. 11)


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