coverengThis book is the result of my fascination for both technology and cities. My main interest is not so much in technology itself, but in the way it is shaped by society and how in turn technology has the affordance to reshape our society.

This time around, digital and mobile media are changing the way urban life takes shape and how we experience our built environment. More and more, we are experiencing the city through the interfaces on our (mobile) screens and through the algorithms designed by various actors, from commercial companies to non-governmental institutions and citizens.

On the face of it, this is mainly a practical matter: thanks to these technologies we can organize our lives more conveniently. But the rise of ‘urban media’ also presents us with an important philosophical issue: How do they influence the way that the city functions as a community?

Employing examples of new media uses as well as historical case studies, I wanted to show how new technologies, on one level, contribute to the further individualization and liberalization of urban society. There is an alternative future scenario, however, in which digital media construct a new definition of the urban public sphere. In the process they also breathe new life into the classical republican ideal of the city as an open, democratic ‘community of strangers’.

If you are interested in these themes, you might also like some other projects I have been working on:

The Mobile City

The Mobile City is a research group that I founded with Michiel de Lange in 2007. With The Mobile City we have organized a number of conferences and workshops on the role of new media in urban society and urban design. Some recent projects are:

Amsterdam Hackable Metropolis (2014)

Amsterdam Hackable Metropolis is a research project that examines how citizens, design professionals and institutions can take into account the role of new, digital technologies in society and redefine their roles in a democratic ‘city making’ process.

Made by Us (Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture, 2013)

The New Institute, the Netherlands’ new national institute for the creative industry, has invited Dutch research group The Mobile City to help it develop an ongoing dialogue around the concept of smart cities between Chinese and Dutch architects, media makers and designers. We developed a workshop in Beijing and an Exhibition in Shenzhen featuring the work of three Dutch artists / designers: Niki Smit (Monobanda), Sander Veenhofand Mark van der Net

Social Cities of Tomorrow (2012)

At this conference and workshop in The Netherlands we addressed the question: How can we use digital media technologies to make our cities more social, rather than just more hi-tech? Keynotes included Dan Hill, Natalie Jeremijenko and Usman Haque. All lectures can still be found at the conference website.

Book Chapter: From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen

This is my contribution to the book Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement edited by Marcus FothLaura ForlanoChristine Satchell and Martin Gibbs and published by MIT Press. In the chapter I explore various ‘urban imaginaries’ that have influenced the design of urban media.

Book Chapter: The Urban Culture of Sentient Cities: From an Internet of Things to a Public Sphere of Things

I contributed a chapter to the book Sentient City Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space edited by Mark Shepard. In this chapter I explore new ways of thinking about the urban public sphere, which became the main theme of The City as Interface.