The View from Everywhere: Towards an Epistemology for Urbanites

Foth, Marcus, Odendaal, Nancy, & Hearn, Gregory N. (2007) The View from Everywhere: Towards an Epistemology for Urbanites. In 4th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning (ICICKM), Oct 15-16, Cape Town, South Africa.


Information and knowledge management in line with a traditional epistemology equates knowledge with science. This approach assumes that knowing is trans-historical and universal, and strives to arrive at unassailable justifications for truth claims by defining the necessary and sufficient conditions for which a proposition is known to be true. Imagining an idealised knower, without emotions or history, the goal is absolute abstraction and universal solutions. Traditional epistemologists operate under the assumption that certainty is only achieved by stripping away all but the bare reasoning required to make inferences; thus rendering the social, historical and economic context of the knower irrelevant. The perspective of this idealised knower is a ‘view from nowhere’ (Nagel, 1986). In this paper we analyse and critique this view in the light of its applicability to the situation and needs of urban dwellers. The findings of our analysis allow us to call for a broadening of knowledge discourse beyond science and technology. We argue for the development of an epistemological model which takes into account and values transitory, informal, soft, implicit, contextual and tacit forms of knowledge, and its sources and utility outside the hard sciences. This model requires policy changes towards a democratisation of knowledge production and exchange and an acknowledgement of the significance of supporting education and urban community networking as mechanisms which enable knowledge sharing and participation in knowledge societies. Our proposed epistemological model supports a ‘view from everywhere’. We hope it can uncover policy as well as technical opportunities and help inform ways and approaches to enable the social and community appropriation of information and communication technology for local knowledge production and exchange.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

819 since deposited on 27 Aug 2007
42 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 9149
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: urban informatics, epistemology, knowledge management, cities, urban studies, information and communication technology, tacit knowledge, contextualisation, social networks, South Africa
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified (200199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Land Use and Environmental Planning (120504)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning) (160404)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (Please consult author)
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:40

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page