urban geography of digital networks

From the HUB at interaction design institute ivrea – foundations of interaction design

Urban spaces and interaction design

Wired / Unwired: The Urban Geography of Digital Networks

A few weeks ago, I read Anthony Townsend’s thesis on wireless networks, urban planning and urban design. It’s one of the more thought-provoking things I’ve read recently and have been recommending it to just about everyone (chapters 1, 6 and 7 are most relevant to interaction designers).

Interaction design should not just concern the screens and computer interfaces, but rather, the urban spaces we inhabit — and rather than drawing us further into our computers, we should be finding ways to interact better with our urban environments. The proliferation of networked technology has only reinforced our urban structures, Townsend argues. We don’t buy everything online, or use it as our sole means of communication.

As designers, what implications does this have on what we design for, or how we design it? How does it change what we get people to do in front of a screen of some sort? And what are the broader social implications — the city is ever-more important, according to Townsend. Where should we focus our energies?

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