Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Identity and place

Zoe writes to tell me that the social research for the Urban Tapestries project is complete and a paper will be available online shortly. Until then, you can check out the summary of their work.

Here are some of the core research questions:

UT may be able to theoretically deepen people's connection to urban spaces and facilitate new kinds of collaborative relationships, but does it? Perhaps more precisely, do respondents want it to? For this investigation, one of our central questions asks: do people use UT in meaningful and interesting ways? Related to this question are a series of sub-questions including: What do respondents do with UT? Can UT reveal how people negotiate and make meaning of their urban spaces?

And although I'm not sure they managed to answer their questions, they do report some interesting finds:

The key features defining the relationships our respondents had with ICTs are the importance of control (or lack of it), socio-cultural contexts, expectation management, external or internal locus of control, and personal aesthetics.

It is clear that respondents used UT in order to negotiate boundaries and mark their territories, stake claims and identify their personal preferences ... In this sense, public authoring promotes a sense of control not only over users' territories, but also over their boundaries and their own role in those territories.

This suggests important connections between the construction of identity and place - something that is intimately connected to power and everyday life, but not entirely reducible to issues of privacy or trust or accuracy (which often seem to be more related to consumption than production). But I'll have to think on this some more...

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