“Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design” – First Monday article

The Mobile City contributed a paper to the very interesting special November 2013 issue of First Monday called “Waves, Bits & Bricks: Media and The Social Production of Urban Space“.

How has media affected cities in real, concrete terms? How do “bits” and “waves” become “bricks”? This large special issue, edited by Matteo Tarantino and Simone Tosoni, collects 15 papers by Giorgia Aiello, Thomas Apperley, Joshua Breitbart, Greta Byrum, Roderic N. Crooks, Michiel de Lange, Martijn de Waal, Sophia Drakopoulou, Leopoldina Fortunati, Lee Humphreys, Dale Leorke, Tony Liao, Didem Ozkul, Pietro Palvarini, Cesare Silla, Sakari Taipale, Federica Timeto, Simone Tosi, Shenja van der Graaf, and Wim Vanobberghen, all examining the ever evolving relationship between cities and digital media.


Here’s  the abstract of our paper:

Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design

Michiel de Lange, Martijn de Waal

Over the last few years, the term ‘smart cities’ has gained traction in academic, industry, and policy debates about the deployment of new media technologies in urban settings. It is mostly used to describe and market technologies that make city infrastructures more efficient, and personalize the experience of the city. Here, we want to propose the notion of ‘ownership’ as a lens to take an alternative look at the role of urban new media in the city. With the notion of ownership we seek to investigate how digital media and culture allow citizens to engage with, organize around and act upon collective issues and engage in co–creating the social fabric and built form of the city. Taking ownership as the point of departure, we wish to broaden the debate about the role of new media technologies in urban design from an infrastructural to a social point of view, or from ‘city management’ to ‘city making.’

Read the full paper here >>


Michiel de Lange

Michiel de Lange (1976) is an Assistant Professor in New Media Studies at Utrecht University, researching mobile media and urban culture and identity. He is the co-founder of The Mobile City, an independent research group founded in 2007 that investigates the influence of digital media technologies on urban life and the implications for urban design and policy. Michiel is trained as a cultural anthropologist, and holds a PhD in philosophy (2010) with a dissertation about mobile media technologies and urban identities. He collaborated in a locative media art & science project (www.nomadicmilk.net). He worked for  Kennisland, a Dutch think-tank that aims to strengthen the knowledge-based society. Here he worked on several projects at the intersection of ICTs and the city, e.g. co-organizing the Creative Capital conference. He also volunteered and worked for Cybersoek, a computer neighborhood center in Amsterdam. He is advisor e-culture at Mediafonds.
Michiel is on Twitter and LinkedIn.