City as Social Network

I recently posted this series of prompts to the iDC discussion list.

Following Google’s acquisition of Feedburner, I want to consider how the threats to privacy that became apparent in that context extend to physical communities (neighborhood, organization, city) that are enabled/bolstered/fortified by social web media. Many community groups and neighborhood organizations are using digital networking technologies to foster community interaction (http://www.ibrattleboro.com/). And of course, what is widely known as citizen journalism plays into this as well “ placebloggers and Community Media organizations tend towards hyperlocal networked content (http://www.cctvcambridge.org/) with an aim towards reinforcing existing geographical connections. The processes that bind non-geographical communities in networks are similar to those that are binding geographical communities “ shared interests, practices, goals, etc.   However, unlike traditional online fenced in communities that have a basis in anonymity, digitally annotated physical communities often rely on the full disclosure of identity for their functionality.  For instance, when it comes to neighborhood issues “ it is important to know one™s real name and location.

And as city governments are seeking ways to adopt web 2.0 technologies into their existing citizen management projects, the lack of anonymity and the simple traceability of social actions open up new concerns. Social media tools have the capacity to significantly expand participation in local governance, but they also have the capacity to trace citizen behavior and map social trends. Cities are interested in this technology for the same reason that corporations are “ it offers valuable user data.  Politicians can survey the concerns of their constituency; agencies can identify problems in neighborhoods; and law enforcement¦ well, there are many scenarios possible. …

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