Place panel at the netpublics

The other day, preparing the "place" planel at the networked publics conference, Kazys Varnelis sent us (panelists) a list of questions that we would discuss. I just pasted them there with some the answers I thought about during a jetlagged night. It's messy of course:

1. What are three ways in which pervasive networks refashion our relationships to place?

  • a new layer of information and communication is present -> I am here and not here, I am aware of what is going on here + what is going on at OTHER locations. This is both interesting from the social point of view (being in contact) but detrimental from the cognitive point of view (partial attention to the environment/people...) -> simultaneous environment -> adam says yes simultaneity but where are the real emotions?
  • the definition of a place is also altered. place = a part of space with some social and cultural framing (waiting room, café, library...) -> now it's more than that: different roles at the same time, which might lead to different acceptations (people don't have the same expectations about what is acceptable, doable at at a certain place). +distinction private/public space is blurred too. But at the same time, new types of places emerges: tech hotels, cybercafé and we're not always aware of them: amazon warehouse, servers farms as showed jeffrey huang at lift. new markets = you can adjust the price by checking on the internet (india) + work everywhere
  • eventually this may also make some private or semi-private information public: if I can know familiar strangers, or who is interested by what with my PDA... information about oneself can also be accessible everywhere by us BUT also by others: HOW can we escape from that: will there be places I don't want to go because of that?
  • 2. Speculate on how networks that pervade physical space might knit together in differentiated ways our relationships to our social Networks.

    it might make people aware of certain things... only if they pay attention to it...

    3. What kinds of social interaction rituals are distinguished or made possible by the existence of digital networked publics?

    • permanent connection to the social network leads to the fact that some rituals disappears (I don't say hello to some folks anymore, I am always in contact with them in my buddy list+sms)
    • the sharing / exchange / spread of memes, url, cultural content which is INTENTIONAL: I give you this because I infer that you might be interested in it (funny / useful for your job/hobby); "the gift" (marcel mauss): the object that is given bears the identity of the giver. When the recipient receives the gift, they not only receive the object, but the association of that object with the identity of the giver + parties to a relationship of gift exchange are obligated to give gifts, to receive them and to repay them in the appropriate ways.
    • distant people are aware of what their social network does/did; when people have offline discussion, people refer to what happened "on the internet"
    • 4. Are RFIDs revolutionary or merely glorified ID tags?

      they are promising: - it's still yet another card - especially if everybody can have a reader (cell phones)

      the RFID washer: jammer is more promising to me

      5. What are some pedestrian instances of how networked publics matter vis-a-vis space and place?

      some navigation systems (gps but I don't really believe in that), urban information display (bus, metro, train, interoperability of schedule, reported to the public)

      more interesting to me: GAMES: location-based games, mobile games, alternative reality games because it reshapes the way we leave the city (dérive/drift), can help discovering new things about the city

      6. What about our need to escape from the net?

      more important then ever, a crux issue especially from the cognitive point of view (too much information, cognitive overload, partial attention)

      "cold spots" - electronic ghetto: for poors -> mike davis (blog) - for the rich who can manage to escape from the net and who knows that they should do it: they are "netless" literate)

      7. What is our relationship to place when we use devices that network us while we are moving (walking or driving) versus those that connect us to a network while we are relatively immobile? That is, has our sense of place become as fluid and mobile as our relation to the network?

      the attention is different, cognitely speaking for instance I am lost in a city and very hurried I won't look at my gps phone but ask someone our attention is still limited anyway the device engages us with the place to a certain extent

      8. More and more of the devices which network us are screen-based, with some visual display and an input device of keyboard, touch pad or touch screen? What do you think are the key reasons for the intransigence of the screen in our social practices of interaction?

      that's a pity and I don't like that, my favorite mobile game device would have no screen we're fed up with screens but currently there are some tech limits, especially in cell phones regarding the massive development of applications that would use lbs, voice or tangible interaction, the industry goes where it's easier: developing on-screen applocations.

      but ringtones + the way people personalize their cell phones shows that there is a need to go beyond the screen!

      the other problem is that the screen is the standard, the dominant design and it's hard to engage users (I mean ALL users, not just early adopters) in other interactions

      9. VRML blew it. Will there be a successor spatiality to HTML?

      of course there are stuff like that, especially in the GIS world + also in the open cartography community

      there are already few instances: annotating space with metadata; about building semantic models of places; about exchanging geospatial data in RDF, what Jo Walsh does a simple vocabulary for describing physical spaces and the connections between them

      there is also PML: Psychogeographical Markup Language: PML is a unified system to capture meaningful psychogeographical [meta]data about spaces which can be used to compose psychogeograms: diagrammatic representations of psychogeographically experienced space.

      10. Are MMORPGs just glorified MUDs? Or do they really portend a new spatiality?

      there's indeed a big debate about it raph koster talked about that graphics are not always more immersive (uncanny valley!) the level of information available is hugely more important in MMORPG

      YES NEW spatiality in terms of spatiality, the physical representation can create local affordances (topology) but the main change is that there is an isomorphic representation of the character to the player: it's not textual: then there could be Proxemics issue (Philip Jeffrey's study), you can also follow eye gaze: COPRESENCE AFFORDANCES are very present in MMORPG and different than in MUD (it was more explicit: you had to type: look at XXX)

      11. How will space and architecture deform in connection to place? Will cities transform radically as they did during the development of modernity?

      the end of cheap oil may be a more radical change but as jeffrey huang said there are new places + electronic ghettos + disconnected ghettos for the rich

      13. Is our culture of connectivity also a culture of disconnectivity? How much is the real world losing to the virtual? Is it?

      THERE should absolutely be a culture of disconnectivity: 1) the systems are not semafuls, people should be aware of that, to deal with uncertainty, discrepancies (fabien's thesis) 2) people should understand the value of being disconnected

      14. What is more important today, the visible or the invisible? What is their relationship?

      the articulation of both the advent of virtual space made think that the invisible was important but it's not true

      15. What is the future of place?

      more variety, more intricacies (a place is not just a café: it's a café+ meeting room + working place...)

      and those who will make the changes possible are not the one you expect: JC Decaux, bathroom facilities (geberit)... they are ubiquitous and want to take advantage of that