Announcement: workshop in Edinburgh “Placema(r)king:Brands v. Tags”

James Steward sent us an email announcing the following workshop, which might be of interest to The Mobile City readers:

“Placema(r)king: Brands versus Tags”


16-17 October 2008 placemarking – placemaking: brands versus tags

This workshop pits brands against tags and explores their respective roles in facilitating or hindering social interaction and meetings between people.

  • A brand often pertains to a fixed, pre-decided unit of social meaning, applicable to objects of mass consumption. A tag can be a scrap of sticky paper or an electronic trigger that activates complex computational processes.[3] To what extent can branding and/or tagging empower local, non-commercial, transient and minority constituencies?
  • What are the cultural precursors of brands and tags (symbols, crests, monads, memes, mythotypes), and how can these inform contemporary encounters in spaces?
  • Branded spaces are carefully controlled by particular commercial interests, configured through agreement between brand-holders and licensees (eg Easyjet’s inflight sale of Carte Noire coffee). What does unintended, conflicting and subversive branding interlaced with parasitic tags contribute to the qualities of a place as a site for human encounter?
  • The brandscape is characterised by movement from one brand context to another. Tagscapes seem to infiltrate this flow. How is this movement negotiated? How do brands and tags interact with each other and with interstitial, unbranded spaces?
  • What are the disruptive effects of mobile digital technologies on brand and the spatiality/temporality of place? How can these characteristics be brought into the design of branded and tagged meeting places?

The Workshop will be preceded by and incorporate a research-by-design methodology, involving key designers working with an ‘extreme coding’ team. The design results will be evaluated, advanced and iterated at the workshop.

This is the third AHRC/EPSRC-funded workshop of the Branded Meeting Places group.


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 ( 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.