Space as Social construct

Throughout history, humans have moved to cities to connect, for social and economic reasons. The search for employment and wealth has attracted people to cities. As Townsend (2013) proposes “cities accelerate time by compressing space” (p.1), and it is this binary relationship between space and time that we may suppose composes the digital city. While previously, the home was the connecting digital space to the network; mobile devices have now taken such a communicative endeavor onto the streets of the city through the mobile web in a “symbiosis of place and cyberspace” (Townsend, 2013, p.6). Such a mobility dominates life in the city and does indeed “compress space” while hastening time. What Townsend calls “a metropolitan nervous system” (p.3) is the social body of digitally connected people in the urban space of the city, linked to the global mobile web. In digital cities with our dependence on smart mobile devices the barrier between biological beings and the networked digital world is broken down. This is the result of the Internet of Things; wherein “the lines between person and network get even more blurred when identifying gadgets are paired with sensors that tune in to the human body’s status, monitoring it in the same way sensors monitor mechanical devices” (Tossell, 2014).

Through digital interfaces people interact with and immerse themselves in the city in different ways. Such information technology combined with the surrounding elements of the city is what Townsend (2013) defines as the smart city. Though she cautions about the consequences of technology on the city, it is technology itself in the smart city that combines with the body addressing “social, economic, and environmental problems” (Townsend, 2013, p.15). Allison Dring, speaker at the Connected City Summit, designed such an environmental solution called Prosolve. Prosolve, a decorative façade module that reduces air pollution in cities, is an ideal example of smart technologies acting on the environmental impact of industrialization on the digital city.

Gaston Bachelard in the Poetics of Space, with what he alludes to as the space of the house, we can attribute to the networked digital space of the city: “inhabited space transcends geometrical space” (1969, p.47). Tarantino and Tosoni (2013) bring forward the idea of space as a context for social interaction, and further give importance to the construction of urban space “mediated” (Tarantino and Tosoni, 2013, p.1). Thus the study of urbanization is paralleled to that of the “media cities” (Tarantino and Tosoni, 2013, p.1).



Bachelard, G., 1969. The Poetics of Space. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press.

Tarantino, M. & Tosoni, S., 2013. Introduction: Beyond the Centrality of Media and the Centrality of Space [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 February 2016].

Tossell, I., 2014. On the Internet of Things, your body is the next thing to be networked [online] Available at: < technology-news/the-internet-of-you/> [Accessed 10 February 2016].

Townsend, A.M., 2013. Smart cities: big data, civic hackers, and the quest for a new utopia [pdf] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 February 2016].


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