How far we have come

New media and social media are developing so fast. Today, there is an APP for every need and they appear like mushrooms in autumn before you can even think about their utility.


The Invisalign App


For instance, the online connection provided by the Invisalign APP is something useful but not necessary. It is a marketing strategy. Receiving feedback on your moving teeth may be useful if it comes from some expert of the field, otherwise where is the point? Our narcissism and will to appear is really of this proportion? We are starting to rely too much on technology.

Again from the Big Bang Data Exhibition, the selfie notion is getting too far. The quantity of selfies uploaded everyday through all social media is uncountable and it is evident in the installation selfiecity London from Lev Manovich and Moritz Stefaner. Could we represent a city by using these data?


Collage of selfiecity London at the Big Bang Data Exhibition

Surely, cities are the places where these transformations happen. “Cities are where the majority of human activities has always been” (Neal, 2013, p.1). In this century the human activities run around new technologies. Mobile devices rule cities more than ever. Therefore, the question of accessibility is a constant unresolved issue. Having access is having power, being able to access it, is the new knowledge.

In fact the thin line between what is legal and what is illegal in hackering data, in the access to open data and in data knowledge are only starting points. Cooperation between citizens in a larger or smaller scale may help comprehend data. Platforms like Open4Citizens wishes to move forward by legging people collaborate together in the data controlling with a ‘bottom-up approach’ that responds to their needs (Hemment, D. & Townsend, A., 2013, pp.1-3).

Nowadays cities are always alive and awake; is no longer only New York the city that never sleeps but any city because social media had democratized this statement.


Classic New York from the Empire State Building at night




Neal, Z., 2013, The Connected City, How Networks are Shaping the Modern Metropolis, New York and London, Routledge

Hemment, D. & Townsend, A. Ed. (2013) Smart Citizens, pp1-3. Future Everything Publications. Available at: [accessed 12 May 2016].

Open4Citizens (2016). Available at: [accessed 12 May 2016].

Big Bang Data Exhibition in Somerset House, London [online] Available at: <> [Accessed  February 2016].

Invisalign UK. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2016].



3D ourselves

“Like the magic wand of childhood fairy tales, 3d printing offers us the promise of control over the physical world” (Lipson and Kurman, 2013, p.11). The huge possibilities and range of creation offered by the 3D printers is power and like always, it needs some boundaries. For instance, a 3D pen with an accessible price cannot harm anyone whereas the chance of creating weapons could be quite dramatic.


Prices of the 3D pen on Google Shopping (today 9.05.16)

On the brightside, the 3D printing ability of easily shaping any kind of curves and doing it rapidly are the keys of the success of the Invisalign braces. Optical scan data from a computer allow creating 3D invisible braces customizable for every patient. The personal structure of someone’s teeth is scanned and customized clear aligners are physically created.


From the Italian website: “Discover the invisible aligners behind 3 millions new smiles”.

3D printers overcome the complexity of someone’s dental area since “on a 3D printer, complexity costs the same as simplicity” (Lipson and Kurman, 2013, p.20) and it perfectly applies in this case. Moreover, 3D printing can reach an unlimited spectrum of shapes and

since the braces need to adapt to the moving dental area, you need new reshaped braces every two weeks or so, hence the 3D printer quality of zero lead time is invaluable. To be even more connected throughout the whole process the UK site advertises an app, which does not exist for the Italian market.


The Invisalign App

The success of 3D printing in the Invisalign project shows how many useful objects it can be made. Utilising these machines for medicine, when standard tools have limitations, is absolutely mandatory. And the more it becomes popular, the more the price decreases, as for the 3D pen.

The downside is that the great range of possible creations can be used to developed illegal traffics of weapons, drugs and others. “3D printers are the ideal tool for tech-savvy criminals. […] 3D printers are small and portable. They can make one custom object after another, in stealth, no factories, coordination or unnecessary exposure needed” (Lipson and Kurman, 2013, p.220). And it is not difficult to imagine. Knowledge and resources increase the crime trade as any other market.



Lipson, H. & Kurman, M. (2013). Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, John Wiley.

Invisalign UK. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2016].

Invisalign IT. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2016].

Google Research “3d pen amazon” [Accessed 9 May 2016] (first screenshot)

Mapping for Change

Cities are the place where mobile systems and technologies rule together thanks to an understated structure of monitoring and surveillance. Elliott and Urry overpass Bourdieu’s notion that cultural and economic capital coexist in the city, by adding a third one, which they call ‘network capital’. From their words, the “network capital is largely subjectless, communications-driven and information-based” (Elliott and Urry, 2010, p.11). In fact, the future world scenario of the “Digital Networks” is greatly based on intelligent softwares.

These digital machines are activated in order to help the daily errands of citizens from controlling and recording data to securing a safe passage by using CCTV cameras. Others may be dedicated to check someone’s route and to track various information. Hence, it is a never-ending stream of different individual and group data that has been recorded. Consequently, the first ethical problem regards civil liberties. Are they threatened or not? Elliott and Urry define it as a “digital ‘Orwellian-ization’ of self and society, with more or less no movement without digital tracing and tracking and with few legally beyond or outside the control of digital networks” (Elliott and Urry, 2010, p.150).


Right now, Mapping for Change is an organization that works to “provide benefit to individuals and communities from disadvantaged or marginalised groups, along with the organisations and networks that support those communities, where the goal is to create positive sustainable transformations in their environment” (Mapping for Change, Our Company, 2008-2016, Through the years they have developed an agenda with various projects.

 One is called MyAccessible.EU, funded by the European Union, where specific instruments will have the function of  “collectively gathering and sharing information about accessibility of public spaces” (Mapping for Change, MyAccesible.EU, 2008-2016, ).


 Another one, “Science in the City” is a location-based project where Londoners resident in Barbican and Mansell Street are given low-tech tools to measure the quantity of Nitrogen Dioxide and other substances present in the air. By doing it, people participate in taking active control over some important issue of their city. These sensors go under the categories of the Digital Network scenario and they can be positively useful when they led a group of residents to cooperate in maintaining their own city accessible and reachable.




Elliot, A & Urry, J. ,2010, Mobile Lives, pp. 1-23, 131-154. Routledge.

HackAIR., 2016,  Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2016].

 Mapping for Change, 2008-2016. Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2016].

 Mapping for Change, MyAccesible.EU, 2008-2016, [Accessed 2 May 2016].

Mapping for Change, Our Company, 2008-2016, [Accessed 2 May 2016].

Sm-art and Practical Projects


CCTV and art

Smart citizens need to wake up over the topic of subtle or not really subtle surveillance done by the spread of mobile devices and social media. In fact, “taking control of tools has been a central factor in promoting a participatory, hands on approach to our relationship with technology” (Future Everything, Tools for Unknown Futures, 1995-2016).

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a speaker at Future Everybody, is crystal clear that, in order to be smart citizens and active members of a community, citizens need to understand the importance of participation by being co-creator of the society. In her words,

“I am a hacker in Parliament, I went into the system in order to understand how it works and my conclusion is clear: Install new system with a new form of democracy of the future, where we move away from democratic dictatorship with many representative heads to a direct responsibility of direct liquid democracy.” (Future Everybody, p.33,

Is she being naïve and too idealistic or is she foreshadowing the future for real? What are certain are the new proposal projects for smart citizens sponsored by the EU. One of these, COMRADE aims to be a practical technologic help in crisis situations, crisis caused either by nature (earthquakes, floods) or by men (war).



Going thorough this server, the enormous amount of data is filtered so to have useful and reliable information at hand when most needed. By using it, people take collective actions to respond to moment of crisis by actively participating. Both locals and remote users interact together, as explained by COMRADE creators:

“Enabling local (communities in crisis zones) and remote (digital activists and responders) individuals and communities to come together and share knowledge through their crises reports (community reporters), to produce and access filtered and quality collective information, and to be connected with others based on emergency needs and offers”(COMRADE fact sheet, 2016, p.2,

It does seem a very thoughtful idea and hope it may work because, after having experienced a bad earthquake, having the certainty of being connected and having access to news, whether you are living in a central area or not, might be vital.


Future Everything, Tools for Unknown Futures,, [Accessed: 25 April 2016]

Hemment, D., Gere, C eds (2012) Future Everybody. Future Everything: Manchester, UK,, [Accessed: 25 April 2016] and PDF [Accessed: 25 April 2016]

COMRADE Fact Sheet, (2016), [Accessed: 25 April 2016]

Play the City


Digital games have nowadays become active games additionally by exploring the surrounding physical environment. is an Italian site where people may subscribe to a specific event/game running in the city. People are divided into groups and they have to fulfil different tasks around the city by using their mobile devices within a certain amount of time. The city is no longer only a practical place for the circulation of people but rather a place of active exploring, discovery and learning.


First and Last Templar. Treasure Hunt in the historic centre of Ferrara |

One of the latest Play the City events was “The First and Last Templar, Treasure Hunt in the historic centre of Ferrara” (picture above) and it can be defined as a “location-based mobile game (LBMG)”. One fundamental requirement to participate in the hunt is to have at least one 3G smartphone per team in order to be connected for the entire time of the game alongside the use of the city as the physical game space. This wholly satisfies the definition of LBMGs as “games played with mobile phones that are equipped with location awareness (i.e. GPS) and Internet connection” (Hjorth, 2011, pp. 362-363).

Main page of the site |

Main page of the site |

It is fundamental to have the city as an in between game space to let the virtual and the real merge together. In fact, “these games connect physical and digital spaces, in that players may be walking around urban spaces” (De Souza e Silva, 2009, pg.3). In addition, the motto of the site is “not just visit, play” and it is self-explanatory. This particular site operates in different cities around Italy but it also exists a bigger site based in the Netherlands ( where the work is on a bigger scale.

Projects of Play the |

Projects of Play the City.nd |

If the Italian organization is for mere fun and amusement, instead this other Play the City deals with social change and with the challenge of urban development. For instance, “Play the City of Cape Town” ( raised awareness in the citizens and stakeholders about the lack of investments in a specific area by setting up game sessions. In the end, virtual games have the potentiality to stimulate work action in the city whether by exploring and spending valuable time in the city or when trying to improve the quality of living.




Play the, [Accessed: 17 April 2016]

Play the, [Accessed: 17 April 2016]

Play the, Play Cape Town, [Accessed: 17 April 2016]

De Souza e Silva, A, and D. M. Sutko, eds., 2009, Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playscapes. New York: Peter Lang: 1-17

Hjorth, L.,2011, Mobile@game cultures: The place of urban mobile gaming. Convergence, 17(4), 357-371.

Net-haven Fort


 Turning Newhaven Fort into a Netpark ( is a brilliant opportunity to develop a digital engagement with the local space. It would be fundamental to first study the territory and what it has to offer in order to subsequently create specific outdoor works. It is important to study which zones have a better access to Wi-Fi in order to let the final experience run smoothly. This can be done by testing whether “wifi reception [is] coinciding with park areas of interest”. (Figure 2. Pg. 13, Behrendt, Doughty, Poulter, Bailey and Reid, 2015) Nonetheless we can predict a test-idea for activities in the area using Action Bound.

I have personally found the example of the Netpark in Chalkwell Park, Southend-on-Sea slightly alienated. “All the works are experienced through a smart device, either iPad, iPhone or Android. All are best experienced with a set of headphones” ( and, hence why my Action Bound is preferably made for groups (2+ people). I believe more interactive tasks between users in the park could be a simple solution. (i.e. Possible mission for a kid: Write a story that involves two animals. If you see someone taking its dog for a walk in the park, go ask him/her the name of the dog and take a picture to upload to gain new insight in the story.)

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In my ActionBound ( I tried to create some missions where users need to explore the territory while interacting with other users by for example, asking for suggestions.

On the technological sphere, I have found a few problems: in ‘Scan Code’ you cannot insert a GPS position, therefore I am not sure of how to practically find a code to scan in a determined area. Like-wise, on ‘Mission’, it is very easy for users to upload images and videos while it is not for sounds. Even though sounds may be incorporated into videos, the quality of them may likely change as for storage capacity.



Metal, Netpark 2015 [online][Accessed: 11 March 2016]

ActionBound App and project

Behrendt F, Doughty K, Poulter S, Bailey C, Reid J (2015) Netpark. Research and Development Report.


App and Down

ActionBound in a friendly phone app dedicated to media and mobility. It would be perfect on a summer camp for students between 15 and 18 years old to help them in their daily activities. Students in this years range are very suitable in using a mobile technology.

Bohoo ( is a trail educational project where the basic idea is to involve a group of international students learning English in Brighton to engage with the city by letting them explore so to be more confident with the territory and to improve their language skills by giving them tasks and quizzes to solve within one selected time.

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In the screenshots there is shown some examples: getting to the Fountain at Old Steine and prove the achievement by filming a short video or listening to a sound (of seagulls, loud chats, noises and laughing) previously recorded letting users guess where it comes by exploring the area. Doing this ‘game’ in groups would avoid the problem of technology accessibility because it would be only needed one person who can access the app and this can be decided beforehand.

The more global problem of accessibility connected to the fact that one task is created specifically in a determined location could be deviated whether a big educational organization is then involved. By using ActionBound as an activity tool on every holiday locations available in the organization package (i.e EF has schools over more than 107 countries in the world –, the locative accessibility would be increased. Although the local special exclusivity still remains, meaning the hearing of sounds and other actions are specifically linked to one place, the cooperation with locative media such as ActionBound let users be fully in charge of interacting with “sound and media while at the same time they are busy navigating their urban environment and experiencing their surroundings.” (pg. 288, Behrendt, 2012)


Behrendt, F. 2012. The Sound of Locative Media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 18(3)283-295. Sage. Available at:

Bohoo Task

Action Bound

Age of Everyware

Open Street Map

A very curious piece of the Big Bang Data exhibition was the OpenStreet Map’s Contributor Community Visualised – Individual by Individual by Eric Fisher. It is a world map with colours that identifies locations and structures according to thousands of citizens’ submissions. This was claimed to be an alternative to the more commercial Google Maps. Interesting was analysing the darker, denser marks on the map compared to the blurry white parts of it. Subsequent assumptions regard the big white presence (or non-presence) of China in the map: is this exclusion due to an Internet block from the country? Very likely yes.


Using location apps opens the world of code/space to the everyday life. Bus/metro/train routes app and any kind of maps-directions app, mediate the physical transition of people. The use of code is becoming a routine in order to solve various everyday tasks. Hence having an always-present map to provide the right and fastest directions is essential. As noted by Berry in Public Space, Media Space, these new media (apps, sites as others) are reshaping the urban public space and it becomes a subjective experience on how individuals use them. Moreover they are in a constant change due to the rapid consumption of media technologies.


For instance an article from Wired UK reports that in 2016 Helsinki would allow you “to buy a ‘mobility’ ticket to your destination via text message or app” (, and the service will do the rest, as for available checking public transports, on-demand services and private vehicles as well.


Kitchin and Dodge in fact remind the idea that “computation should be available wherever it is needed” (p.215) by people in everyday life. Even better if the accessibility of the resource is immediate (i.e. smartphone in the pocket); therefore the strength of the wireless connection allows the creation of any type of space as a code/space one. Using your phone with a wireless connection in a café, makes the coffee shop a coded space, a productive digital space. One can be online 24/7 or access whenever necessary, no matter where: “everyware”.




Wired UK, 2016. Smart cities will be necessary for our survival [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 February 2016].


Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 1-15 (Introduction).


Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011. Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MITPress: ix-xi (Preface) 3-22 (Introduction), 23-44 (Chapter 2: The Nature of Software), 215-244 (Chapter 10: Everyware)


Art work

Open Street Map’s Contributor Community Visualised – Individual by Individual (Eric Fisher, 2013) at Somerset House for the Big Bang Data Ehxibition, London 2016

Data, Space and People

As part of the Big Bang Data exhibition, Ingrid Burrington and Dan Williams created a map that shows the overlooked elements of the Internet that can be physically found in London as for antennae or cabinets. They have tracked down a small area close to Somerset House, exactly where the exhibition takes place.


It is interesting to see how virtual space still needs real and concrete infrastructures in order to function. In fact, Burrington and Williams investigate the importance of the “place in history, authenticity, ties to place of exhibition”. (pg.23, Miller, 2011)

This is a starting point that could help architects, designers, tactical urbanists and creative technologies to collaborate in order to “design and built technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities”. (Haque, 2016) The basic notion of maps is still central to the everyday life in a smart city (Google Maps and compass on smart phones to name the most famous ones) as much as it was before with paper maps.

Moreover, two artists Thomson and Graighead created a wall full of tweets sent via Twitter during two specific weeks near the Somerset House area. The idea is the one of a collaborative wall that – as they say – functions as an “attempt to show ourselves to ourselves” even though tweeters are not fully aware of it. (video here) It is an example of an “horizontal network of relations” (pg. 26, Miller,2011) like the concept of the rhizome formulated by Deleuse and Guattari (1988); all tweets are on the same level; there is no hierarchical structure involved.

The wall is the expression of citizens; it is their words and their public thoughts. Is it possible to use this social network to study the feelings of people towards a city? Can tweets, as much as pictures posted on Instagram, really define whether an area makes people more satisfied and positive than another? Tekja is working with this idea, trying to use social networks to do a “sentiment analysis” in order to let people and companies understand the “cultural value”. ( The London’s results are very informative.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: A staff member interacts with a live social media map of London at the Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House on December 2, 2015 in London, England. The show highlights the data explosion that's radically transforming our lives. It opens on December 3, 2015 and runs until February 28, 2016 at Somerset House. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House)

(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House)



Usman Haque, Who controls our data? Usman Haque debates the implications of the data explosion, Feb 2016 Talk [Accessed: 22 February 2016]

Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. Sage: pp 12-21.

Tekja: London Data Findings 2016, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Thomson & Craighead on ‘London Wall: WC2’ [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Somerset House, 2016, Big Bang Data: Thomson & Craighead,, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Networks of London, [Accessed: 17 February 2016]

Somerset Map,

Sustainable Architectures for Smart Cities

Smart Cities are cities were technologies work together with the actual space in order to improve citizens’ lives. The democracy of information accessibility in a smart city allows every dweller the possibility of shaping the future of the city. Using smart technologies consents a rediscovery and a re-invention of governments in a “more open, transparent, democratic, and responsive model”. (pg.10, Townsend, 2013)

At The Connected City Summit ( ) this year, Allison Dring is presenting elegant embellishments, a decorative architectural module used as façades outside buildings, which has the power to reduce air pollution in cities. The architectural modules has been used on the wall of a hospital in Mexico City and results say it is decreasing the equivalent pollution of 1000 cars per day.

As Mexico City Environmental Secretary Tanya Muller states in the video, is that such a project needs to be tried not only by one city in one building but on a larger scale, letting it become mandatory in the construction of new building in cities. Architecture alongside the use of information technology provides thus a better sustainably. Living in such a smart city is the valuable expression of what it could mean combining infrastructures and everyday objects “to address social, economic and environmental problems”. (pg.15, Townsend, 2013)

A smart city is in constant change and being able to build future cities that might auto-sustain themselves against climate change, to name one great issue, would be fundamental. A dialogue between urban architecture and planning could lead to a better efficiency if coordinated by media. It would be interesting to see some resolutions, for example, on how “ICT’s diffusion challenged the urban/countryside dichotomy, driving towards a phase of new “urban identities”. (Tarantino and Tosoni, 2013) Could similar projects being thought also for rural environments?



Tarantino, M. & Tosoni, S., 2013. Introduction: Beyond the centrality of media and the centrality of space. First Monday, 18(11). Available at: [Accessed February 7, 2014].

Townsend, A.M., 2013. Smart cities: big data, civic hackers, and the quest for a new utopia, New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company: pp cover,  xi-xiv preface

Re-Work, The Connected Cities Event 2016

Elegant Embellishments [online], [Accessed: 13 February 2016]

CNN, 2013, Mexico’s Smog Eating Building, Available at: [Accessed: 13 Febraury 2016]