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Pamela Varley, 'Sustainable Digital Neighbourhoods' presented at 'Communities in the Digital Age' International Symposium, June 2013
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Pamela Varley, 'Sustainable Digital Neighbourhoods' presented at 'Communities in the Digital Age' International Symposium, June 2013


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Pamela Varley, Plymouth University, UK, 'Sustainable Digital Neighbourhoods' presented at 'Communities in the Digital Age' International Symposium, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, 12 June …

Pamela Varley, Plymouth University, UK, 'Sustainable Digital Neighbourhoods' presented at 'Communities in the Digital Age' International Symposium, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK, 12 June 2013

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  • 1. Sustainable Digital Neighbourhoods Pamela Varley School of Architecture, Plymouth University @PamPlymPhD
  • 2. Cornwall, UK • Southernmost county of England • Celtic nation with a rich and unique cultural heritage • Population of just over half a million • Relatively large retired population • Regional towns, rural villages and one city - Truro (the county’s administrative centre)
  • 3. Cornish Infrastructure Upgrade • Superfast Cornwall: partnership between the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council • £132 million programme of investment • Initial aim: make fibre broadband available to at least 80% of Cornish homes and businesses by end-2014 • 95% of homes and businesses in Cornwall are now set to benefit from fibre broadband • 190,000+ premises currently able to order
  • 4. Cornish Infrastructure Upgrade
  • 5. Fibre Goes Rural • Digital leapfrogging in the South West • Digital preparedness • We cannot take for granted that increased access to technological infrastructure brings about a comparable increase in the adoption and use of such technology, nor leads to long-term and meaningful participation in the online realm. • Societies will determine the function and role of technologies in different ways (Komito, 2004)
  • 6. Place, Infrastructure & People • Two components of access to high speed internet – Availability of infrastructure and service – Individual adoption of the technology • “Availability of broadband varies by place, but the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of communities also affect patterns of adoption once the technology is available” (Mossberger et al., 2013) • Account for and respond to geographical specificities (Mearns & Richardson, 2012)
  • 7. Technophobe / Technophile Perspectives • Decline in social capital (Putnam, 2000) • Increased social isolation • Loss of time spent within the public and parochial realms (Lofland, 1998) • Fabric of community life being compromised???
  • 8. Technophobe / Technophile Perspectives • “New ICTs may not create a ‘space of flows’ that is separate from the ‘space of places’. ICTs may be increasingly embedded into all aspects of everyday life and existing spheres of interaction. In the case of neighborhoods, the integration of ICTs into everyday life could reverse the trend of privatization within the parochial realm” (Hampton, 2007: 715-716)
  • 9. Case Study Approach • Unique opportunity to undertake original and timely case study research on the relationship between neighbourhoods, ICTs and social inclusion • Examine the real social and spatial effects of such a technological transition as it’s happening • Explore how to harness this technology in order to steer real, sustainable transformation within rural communities
  • 10. Case Study Sites
  • 11. Case Study Villages
  • 12. Case Study Villages
  • 13. Case Study Villages
  • 14. Methods • Targeted and longitudinal approach, carried out in an embedded manner within four case study neighbourhoods • A combination of villages at different stages of the technological transition cycle • Survey • Face-to-face interviews • Diary study
  • 15. Social Network Analysis • Series of name generators • In-depth data on each connection elicited • Adjacency matrix
  • 16. Initial Results • Insight into attitudes towards, and engagement with, technology in these non-affluent rural villages • Patterns of interaction in both online and offline social networks are being uncovered • An understanding of the ways in which villagers use the public and semi-public spaces which surround them
  • 17. Initial Results • “I think a mobile phone is something you should only use for emergencies” • “A lot of people (a) don’t realise they could have something quicker and (b) might not be bothered anyway because they’re not working at such a pace … if they had it they’d say ‘oh, that’s marvellous’ but now it’s ‘what do I need it for?’” • “The transition has been slow as I’ve gotten my head around it all”
  • 18. Initial Results • Culture of fear persists; reluctance to carry out certain activities online • “Everything’s out in the open, with others listening in and watching. It’s so poisonous” • “Most people are happy to have internet as long a there is somebody who can fix it. A lot of people use the same person to fix their computers. We call him ‘Saint William’. William comes and says ‘that’s kaput’ or ‘we’ll do this’ and I trust him.”
  • 19. Initial Results - Social Network Analysis • Name generators eliciting networks which average 15 people in size • Of all ties listed, 51% are local to the village with 49% residing elsewhere, beyond the confines of the village • “A small community throws you together. You rub shoulders with people you wouldn’t normally. I’m sociable to people I don’t like. In the big, wider world that wouldn’t happen.”
  • 20. Initial Results - Social Network Analysis
  • 21. SDN Project Contacts • The research presented today is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, bringing greater connectivity to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly • Pamela Varley – – @PamPlymPhd • Dr Katharine S. Willis – • Professor Alessandro Aurigi –