05 Dec

Networked Place

This essay, written by Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, is an introductory statement on the change role of place in network culture.  They break the work up into six sections: place (simultaneous spaces), mobile place (the rise of the tele-cocoon), real virtual worlds, the network and its sociospatial consequences, geospatial web and locative media, and RFID.  The piece is part of a collaborative book to be published by MIT that will incorporate user comments from the website.  It’s quite a good introduction, borrowing from Friedberg’s recently released Virtual Window, and applying it to the always contentious intersection of networks and lived spaces. 
    The conclusion of the piece provides a nice roadmap of where the larger work will go.  It will explore,

"global connections versus local disconnections, the growth of
environments that allow us to enact simultaneous ‘real’ presence while
engaging in networked forms of tele-presence, producing new forms of
tele-cocooning, the emergence of on-line gaming in virtual worlds that
have become, to its users, quite real, the network as a new form
socio-spatial organization, global information (GIS) and global
positioning (GPS) devices that provide mastery over the mappable globe,
RFIDs that keep track of our position, and the position of our things
in this new globally-networked map."

The key question is how people continue to make places central to their personal and community identifications.  But what this introduction doesn’t exactly address is how networks alter the nature of that identification.  In other words, what counts as a lasting connection in a network?  Certainly, a link is not permanent; how might we conceptualize a meaningful link?  Or a meaningful tag?  Or a meaningful cluster? 

Link: Networked Place.