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Planetary Protocols: Beatriz Colomina / Broadcasting Yourself – Social Media Urbanism

Beatriz Colomina: Broadcasting Yourself – Social Media Urbanism / Response by Kieran Long

Beatriz Colomina—Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University—will talk on and around the theme of social media and its connection to the built environment.

Perhaps the most important transformation in the social, cultural and economic life in the 21st Century has been the arrival of social media. A new space for design has opened up. Indeed, social media is the ultimate space for design. Through its multiple platforms, we not only communicate and collaborate with wider and wider groups, but also refashion ourselves. Images, videos, texts, emojis, stickers, tweets, gifs, memes, comments, posts, and reposts are deployed to construct a digital personality. There was no social media before 2000. There has been an astonishing, exponential acceleration in the number of channels, users, interconnections, and speed. A few seconds has become a space for design. This is a complete transformation of the way we live with huge implications for the city.

This talk will explore social media as a new form of urbanization, the architecture of how we live together. Social media has constructed a new kind of virtual city that has taken over many of the functions of the traditional city. We now inhabit a kind of hybrid space between virtual and real. As with the arrival of mass media in the early 20th Century, social media redraws again what is public and what is private, what is inside and what is outside. It even redefines and restructures physical space, the architecture of houses and cities.

This talk will treat social media as a material technology with specific physical effects. While there is a lot of discussion and research into social media in the areas of communication, sociology, economics and politics, the specific urban condition of social media remains unstudied. Treating social media as a new urban condition re-frames the conversation about this technological paradigm: the new forms of creativity and activism, challenges to privacy, collective decision-making, self-construction, new forms of labour, domesticity, and risk.

Planetary Protocols is a cross-disciplinary series of talks at ArkDes in Stockholm that brings together international thinkers and practitioners to present their work and perspectives on architecture, design, identity, and statehood.

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