Space and Place 10 years after

Dourish, P. 2006. Re-Space-ing Place: Place and Space Ten Years On. Proc. ACM Conf. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work CSCW 2006 (Banff, Alberta). This paper is a follow-up of the "Re-Place-ing Space: The Roles of Place and Space in Collaborative Systems" by Steve Harrison and Paul Dourish that has been published 10 years ago. The first paper advocated for a distinction between “place” and “space” that might serve as a basis for the understanding settings of collaborative work:

One common reading of the relationship between space and place as articulated by Harrison and Dourish has been to see space as a natural fact – a collection of properties that define the essential reality of settings of action – and place as a social product, a set of understanding that come about only after spaces have been encountered by individuals and groups.

What is interesting is that Dourish re-visits this previous paper with a different light: the increasing importance of mobile and ubiquitous technologies reshuffles the questions related to space and place in a considerable way (much more than with previous virtual space). At the same time, virtual environment are still around (think of MMORPG). The paper is very dense and full of important insights, I grasped here only few items related to my research:

While the 1996 paper pointed to the importance of understanding place socially, similar arguments can be applied to space. Indeed, where the conventional reading of place and space in CSCW has suggested that “place” arises only out of (and therefore both consequently and subsequently to “space”), I would suggest instead that place comes first. Our experience of the world is not an experience of mathematically derived uniformity and connectedness; what we experience are places, heterogeneous locales with local meaning, different extents, and individual properties. Space is something we can encounter only afterwards (...) What this suggests, then, is that we need to understand, first, something of the relationship between spatiality and practice, and, second, how multiple spatialities might intersect. This is particularly the case when we think not about “virtual” settings but rather about the ways in which wireless and other technologies might cause people to re-encounter everyday space. Introducing technology into these settings does not simply create new opportunities for sociality (the creation of places); rather, it transforms the opportunities for understanding the structure of those settings (developing spatialities)

Why do I blog this? in this paper, Dourish puts more emphasis on "space" rather than "place" (what he actually did in the 1996 paper). What I find interesting here is the way he is arguing against simplistic interpretations that has been done on the first paper. The idea of multiple spatialities is also very important to me given the kind of intersections we're more and more experiencing. And I am wondering about developing spatialities that would emerge first from new technologies (like adding a wifi layer at cityscale, no mentions to seams and flaws) and second by the intersection of those layers (gsm, wifi, past traces of earlier tech...).