home | bio | publications | vitae | classes | weblog | contact me


The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces : new research project
I finally made a few minor updates to my webpage, mostly to include a description of my new research project. Here is the detailed description:

A growing number of cities have announced plans or are in the early stages of deploying municipal broadband wireless networks; Muni Wi-Fi. These projects promise untethered Internet access in private, public, and semi-public spaces. While there is a significant body of research addressing whether fixed Internet use increases, decreases, or supplements the ways people engage in residential and workplace settings, few studies have addressed how the use of wireless broadband in public spaces influences social life. It is unclear if wireless Internet use in public spaces will facilitate greater engagement with co-present others, or encourage social disengagement. This study investigates how mobile technologies, focusing on Wi-Fi use but not excluding mobile phones, portable music players, etc., impact the use of public space in select North American cities. Updating William H. Whyte’s classic study of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, this project is based on the analysis of video and field notes from ethnographic studies of nine Wi-Fi enabled public spaces in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto (preliminary). Field sites include public parks, plazas, and street corners. The goal is to identify how mobile devices augment local interactions and people’s social networks more broadly. This work is integrated into previous research that has focused on socially responsible design of public space, the growth of privatism, public safety, pro- and anti-social behavior, surveillance, and privacy.

This summer research assistants will be deployed to the nine field sites we have identified in four cities. From May-July they will be unobtrusively observing interactions for apx. 50 hours in each space. In addition, each site will be videotaped from a “birds eye” view. All days of the week and day light hours will be included in the sample. The resulting video footage and field notes will be coded and analyzed for systematic behavior with the aim of contrasting users of mobile technologies with non-users. We also hope to combine our video and field notes with computer logs of how often people use Wi-Fi and what they do online within our observation spaces, and field notes and video from previous public space studies. The resulting analysis will be used to: 1) draw conclusions about the possible impact of Muni Wi-Fi on social networks and public participation, and 2) generate recommendations for the deployment of Muni Wi-Fi and design of urban public space to balance privacy, mutual surveillance, public safety, the opportunity for serendipitous encounters, and other pro-social behaviors.
Thu Mar 15, 2007 @ 3:14:45 pm

search blog:


0.92, 1.00, 2.00


March 2017
September 2016
January 2016
August 2015
July 2014
October 2013
February 2013
November 2011
June 2011
February 2011
October 2010
February 2010
November 2009
April 2009
January 2009
November 2008
September 2008
June 2008
April 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
July 2007
April 2007
March 2007
January 2007
December 2006
October 2006
September 2006
July 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
August 2005
June 2005
May 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003

[powered by b2.]

home | bio | publications | vitae | classes | weblog | contact me