Urban Studies April 12, 2011
Abstract. The paper aims to contribute to the study of new media technologies in urban environments. It unfolds at two levels, epistemological and substantive. First, it discusses the issue of the conceptual tools that we can deploy to understand new media, arguing in favour of notions and methods that enable research to capture the double nature, socio-technical and bio-political, of the new media in urban environments. In particular, the paper claims that new media can be seen as a continuation of the process of ‘urbanisation of territory’ described by Foucault, aimed at the creation of a flexibly controllable space of events. Secondly, it criticises substantively the techno-enthusiast user-empowerment ideology that surrounds new media and addresses issues of inequality, control and resistance in and through new media in the city. The argument is that the augmented, hybrid or mixed urban reality of new media like personal and locative media is neither determinist nor unboundedly mobile. While the freedom of movement and the diverging styles of mobility are becoming a crucial factor of stratification, new tensions and struggles over the nature of urban ‘events’ are likely to take place.