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Urban Tapestries: Experimental Ethnography, Technological Identities and Place

  • Roger Silverstone and Zoetanya Sujon

Abstract

Urban Tapestries provides a mobile location-based platform to connect people with the places they inhabit through their stories, experiences and observations. Currently based on an 802.11b mesh network in the heart of London, ordinary people author their stories of the city and embed them in the places that inspire them. Others who are logged into the system can read these stories, author their own and engage the largely invisible, multidimensional layers accumulating in the city. Our research asks if people use UT in meaningful and interesting ways. Drawing from theories of everyday life and urban space, we have developed experimental ethnography as a method for investigating the relationships between communication technologies, users and the socio-geographic territories around them. Respondents are asked to play with an early Urban Tapestries prototype and this research explores what they do, their technological identities, their relationship to place and the meanings they generate. Urban Tapestries facilitates the negotiation of boundaries and we found that it does augment notions of connectivity - to place and to those within that place. However, our research revealed that some do not interpret this connectivity positively.

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