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Wired Cities: Community, Technology and Changing Urban Places, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 685

Essay

What are the implications of the internet’s impact on communities for the internal structure and built environment of the city?

Introduction

A considerable body of research has been carried out on whether the internet has benefitted communities and contributed to the internal structure and environment of the inner city.  The concept of Wireless Internet has created a communications revolution in terms of social interaction and redesign of environmental circumstances to support this. This has included internet cafes, hotels and commercial premises that facilitate free wireless network facilities. The use of wireless communications is also influencing the design and environmental considerations of our Cities.

Concept of Privatism

Historically people used their homes as a place for reading, retention of libraries and communicating between friends and families.  The internet changed the demographics of this making communications truly global and now it was possible to communicate with friends and families in overseas locations. Exciting media software and e-mail further enhanced this experience.  So in 2006 we moved towards more of a network society. The Libraries, whilst retaining that aura of privacy provided computer terminals with wireless internet connection. The most significant revolution was in the internet café’s and coffee shops that provided wireless networks whilst enabling the ability to socialise and enjoy your coffee whilst communicating and sharing information with family and friends.

Mobile phones were equipped with digital cameras and it was now possible to take pictures and video clips, upload them to your favorite media software e.g. Facebook and instantly make your experience shared with your family and friends world-wide.  (McKenna, K.Y.A. 2004)

Public Space

In England the Public House was held as the ultimate social meeting place for family and friends, enjoying debate and conversation over a pint of beer.  This has now eroded with computerised mobile devices like cell phones and I Pads that can be used in a wide range of public environmental settings like Parks, City Streets and places of public abode.  There has been this switch to the virtual environment from the traditional physical meeting environment.  In some regards this is a pity as we have lost the sense of community and social skills of interacting with one another. In this sense our lives have lost the enrichment of meeting casual friends and acquaintances as part of the normal routines of life.  Although we have become much more accessible and communicative we have become more private and screen out people who we do not want included in our lives. (Kraut, et al., 1998)

Conclusion

The global communications revolution is set to continue and this is likely to have a profound impact on the way we both interact and the environment that we live and work in.  This is likely to move us more into telecommuting roles and working from home with a sophisticated array of technology at our finger tips. The use of personal avatars takes us more deeply into the virtual world and reduces humanity into an animated version of our true selves.  This poses dangers for individual personality and character development divorcing reality with that of the virtual world and environment. We are at the very genesis of artificial intelligence (AI) applications and this has great potential in the use of robotics and further advancements in sophisticated technology applications driving us further into the virtual world as slaves of our technology. A futuristic vision also sees more innovative uses in software creation and possible use of 3-D hologramatic images that will enhance the experience between the user and the device.  It is interesting to note that technology is not moving in perfect alignment with one another, for example IT hardware, Communications and Software are at varying stages of evolution and incompatibility.  A simple example being the new High Definition TV’s and the bandwidth of the Cables that support them. The cable technology is behind the optimum capabilities that the HDTV imposes upon it.

References

Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Kiesler, S., Mukophadhyay, T., & Scherlis, W. (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist, Vol 53(9), , 1017-1031.

McKenna, J. A. (2004). The Internet and Social Life. Annual Review of Psychology Vol. 55, 573-590.

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