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Networked Place

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Networked Place

Networked Place
As a culmination to the Networked Publics program, we are publishing a collaboratively written group book with the MIT Press. As part of this process, we are soliciting reader comments for inclusion in the book. Below is a draft of the essay on Networked Place (note that there is a word document attached too… it is likely easier to read). We intend to take the comments that we received and append them to the essay in a virtual symposium that will follow each chapter. In doing so, we hope to create a more dialogic forum within the book. Please leave your email addresses so that we can get in touch with you about your contribution.

Networked Place
Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg

Introduction
Contemporary life is dominated by the pervasiveness of the network. With the spread of the mobile phone worldwide (arguably history’s most successful gadget) and the growth of always-on broadband in the developed world, technological networks are becoming easier to access and more ubiquitous. The “always-on,” “always-accessible,” network—or at least the promise of that condition—has produced a broad set of changes to our concept of place, linking space to network to create networked place.

The following essay addresses both the networking of space and the spatiality of the network. We identify a series of conditions symptomatic of the culture of network “space”: the everyday superimposition of simultaneous real and virtual spaces, the development of a mobile sense of place or “telecocoon,” the emergence of real virtual worlds, the rise of the network as a socio-spatial model, and the use of mapping technology as a means of understanding the world. At the same time, we recognize that these changes are not simply produced by technology. On the contrary, the development and practices of technology (and the conceptual shifts that these new technological practices produce) are thoroughly imbricated in culture, society, and politics.

Taken together, these changes are already radical, but they may not be radical enough. These could well be the first steps in restructuring our concept of spatiality. The changes we listed above—and describe below—may be mere evidence of the early days of sociocultural shifts of which we can only be partially aware, just as the first theorists of modernism and postmodernism could only partially understand the emerging condition of their day.

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Filed under: academic, architecture, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, research, social, space/place, technology, urban

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