The role of digital screens in urban life: New opportunities for placemaking
Tomitsch, Martin, McArthur, Ian, Haeusler, M. Hank, & Foth, Marcus (2015) The role of digital screens in urban life: New opportunities for placemaking. In Foth, Marcus, Brynskov, Martin, & Ojala, Timo (Eds.) Citizen’s Right to the Digital City: Urban Interfaces, Activism, and Placemaking. Springer, Singapore, pp. 37-54.
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Large digital screens are becoming prevalent across today’s cities dispersing into everyday urban spaces such as public squares and cultural precincts. Examples, such as Federation Square, demonstrate the opportunities for using digital screens to create a sense of place and to add long-term social, cultural and economic value for citizens, who live and work in those precincts. However, the challenge of implementing digital screens in new urban developments is to ensure they respond appropriately to the physical and sociocultural environment in which they are placed. Considering the increasing rate at which digital screens are being embedded into public spaces, it is surprising that the programs running on these screens still seem to be stuck in the cinematic model. The availability of advanced networking and interaction technologies offers opportunities for information access that goes beyond free-to-air television and advertising. This chapter revisits the history and current state of digital screens in urban life and discusses a series of research studies that involve digital screens as interface between citizens and the city. Instead of focusing on technological concerns, the chapter presents a holistic analysis of these studies, with the aim to move towards a more comprehensive understanding of the sociocultural potential of this new media platform, and how the digital content is linked with the spatial quality of the physical space, as well as the place and role of digital screens within the smart city movement.
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