Planning for Urban Media: Large Public Screens and Urban Communication

Planning for Urban Media: Large Public Screens and Urban Communication

Scott McQuire (University of Melbourne, Australia), Nikos Papastergiadis (University of Melbourne, Australia), Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne, Australia), Martin R. Gibbs (The University of Melbourne, Australia), John Downs (University of Melbourne, Australia) and Sonja Pedell (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8150-7.ch007

Abstract

Large video screens situated in public spaces are characteristic of the highly mediated public environment of contemporary cities. While screens are now able to support a range of content, including interactive applications, urban planning policy still treats them largely as commercial display surfaces only. This locks planning into a regulatory model based on minimizing the impact of advertising, and underestimates the possibilities for public screens to incubate innovative modes of urban communication. This chapter discusses a research project focusing on public use of interactive gaming on the Big Screen at Federation Square in Melbourne. The project was part of a larger research initiative exploring the impact of digital media technologies on how people interact with each other in public space. Material was gathered from a combination of observations and interviews. In addition to informing further development of similar interactive events at public sites, the findings raise important questions for urban planning in the context of pervasive digital media.
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Understanding Networked Public Space

If we date their emergence from the pioneering ‘Spectacolour Board’ erected in New York’s Times Square in 1976, large video screens situated in public space are nearly 40 years old. Yet, despite their recent rapid growth in number and prominence, there remains relatively little empirical data concerning their impact on people in urban space. This stands in contrast to the more rapid development of a body of empirical data on the impact of ‘small screen’ devices such as mobile cell phones (Beaton & Wajcman, 2004; Ito, Okabe & Matsuda, 2005; Ling & Pedersen, 2005; Katz, 2006; Horst & Miller, 2006; Goggin, 2011). However, over the last five years there has been an emerging body of work looking more generally at what Saskia Sassen (2006) terms the imbrication of the digital and the non-digital in contemporary cities (McQuire, 2008; Ridell, 2010, 2013; Gordon & Souza e Silva, 2011; Foth, Satchell & Martin 2011). This includes an emerging body of work on the specific phenomena of large screens (McQuire 2006; 2009; McQuire, Martin & Niederer 2009; Fatah gen Schieck et al., 2014; Kolamo & Vuolteenaho, 2013; Berry, Harbord & Moore, 2013; Becker & Widholm, 2014).

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