Urban Informatics

A special issue of Information, Communication and Society just hit the stands and it’s worth a mention here. Yeah, yeah, I have an article in it, but more importantly, it’s a fantastic collection of work on the topic of “Urban Informatics: Software, Cities, and the New Cartographies of Knowing Capitalism.” Here’s the table of contents: Mike Crang & Stephen Graham, “Sentient Cities: ambient intelligence and the politics of urban space”Rowland Atkinson & Paul Willis, “Charting the ludochrome: the mediation of urban and simulated space and the rise of the flaneur electronique”David Beer, “Tune out: music, soundscapes and the urban mise-en-scene”Michael Hardey, “The city in the age of Web 2.0: a new synergistic relationship between place and people”Eric Gordon, “Mapping digital networks: from cyberspace to Google”Simon Parker, Emma Uprchard & Roger Burrows, “Class places and place classes: geodemographics and the spatialization of class”Andy C. Pratt, Rosalind Gill & Volker Spelthann, “Work and the city in the e-society: a critical investigation of the sociospatially situated character of economic production in the digital content industries in the UK”Nicholas Pleace, “Workless people and the surveillant mashups: social policy and data sharing in…

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Mobile Places

I’ve had this question running through my head for some time now: what’s the connection between mobile computing (i.e. cell phones, PDAs, GPS, etc.) and local computing (neighborhood networking, digital civic forums, etc.)? On first blush, these are entirely separate phenomena. But, the more I consider it, the more I see them as parallel. What is truly significant about mobile computing is, in fact, not computing. What is peculiar about mobile computing, is that the computational device is far less important than what the device enables. The device enables people to move without having to carry along their data. As more and more of our data is stored on placeless networks (from Google to Facebook to Flickr), individuals are more free to move from place to place, with the capability of accessing their data wherever they happen to be. But how does that alter the concept of neighborhood networking? Well, if people no longer need to be tied to their data, we might be able to say the same about places. Places are becoming less dependent on spaces. Data about a place, the stuff that enables…

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