ICTs and urban life

In a couple of days, I’ll be attending the Cognitive Cities Conference in Berlin. I’m looking forward to this event since it gives an opportunity to pick up a topic again that I had to neglect for a while: urban communication. I’ve just added a question on Quora that sums up my interest in this subject – In what ways do ICTs influence our experience of urban life?

New technologies are constantly shaped and adopted by city populations all over the world. So for instance, I’m using my smart phone nowadays to find the street address I’m trying to get to, to figure out what the quickest public transport connection for my way home will be, or to see where the nearest cash machine is located.

There are clearly hundreds or thousands of other examples for how we use information and communication technologies to navigate the city. And by ‘navigate’ I mean more than just finding our way around or deciding which way to go.

To navigate the city also means to decipher and understand its symbolic landscape. This could take the shape of retrieving information about a place, a building, or any other urban object. Without this additional digital information, a particular part of the city could have a different meaning – or even no meaning at all.

ICT can also add an information layer to the city that simply didn’t exist before. Augmented reality applications can already show us arrows pointing in the direction of the closest supermarket, display campaign posters for the next elections, or present tourist information in front of the cathedral.

I’m sure there are many other ways in which ICTs influence the way we experience urban life. How are we leading a different urban life because of these technologies? How are these effects different for various segments of the urban population and in various urban areas? Hopefully, the cognitive cities conference will provide lots of interesting insights in that regard.

One response to “ICTs and urban life

  1. Hi Sebastian, Thomas Friedman would say that all of these examples are part of the flattened world we live in, as he describes in his book “The World is flat”. Without ITC many of the things mentioned would have been much more difficult to find out because they were “beyond the horizon”. Today, in theory at least, anyone can find out almost anything in real time, if he knows how to do it. I am often still surprised how many people do not use Google for example. It happens daily that I get letters or mails with people asking me something in my field of work and seconds later I have the information (not from my head) but from Google using the exact words from their letter. Cheers Alex

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