navigating data/cityscapes

The authors were invited to present at the international conference, Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2010: Confronting the Challenges of the Post-Crisis Global Economy and Environment, in London, UK on 3rd September. The paper, ‘Digital Networks: between open source mobility and closed loop assemblages’, responds to what a number authors have referred to as the ‘network city’ via an increasing abstraction of space coupled with the continual erosion of place. This has precipitated a number of effects on social and cultural activity and respective communities, most significantly, the original nature of the public realm within the built environment as both a receptive and reflexive domain appears to now be located in digital networks that permeate contemporary life rather than physical conditions. The ubiquity of technology across our daily communication and other exchanges as a correlation of increased growth of broadband in the developed world and the global continuum facilitated by mobile phones, has become manifest in readily accessible, ever-present networks that not only challenge our ideas and experience of place but have precipitated an evolution in relationships of time and distance. In addition, these digital infrastructures afford the connectivity and mobility of communities with niche interests to be networked in an unprecedented manner. Who operates across this territory, how and why? The schism between the high degree of connectivity that permeates the digital networks versus the increasingly fragmentary nature of the physical urban condition has provided a rich geography for exploitation for artists, communities and sub-cultures who are involved in navigating this ‘inbetween landscape.’ A range of case studies were used to illustrate such negotiations and subversions of urban space and their implications for an increasingly hybridised public domain that seeks to explore digital and physical boundaries.

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