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Exploring the connection between physical proximity between democratic actors and viable democratic action

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  1. 1. Proximity, Democracy, and Sustainability<br />Tracing the connection between physical proximity and negotiated interests.<br />Gabriel Mugar<br />Technology as Public Good<br />Spring 2011<br />
  2. 2. Space and Democracy<br />This weeks readings look at the element of proximity and how it is integral to sustainability and democracy<br />Environments for information sharing are critical for:<br />Telling a story and seeing if others have similar experiences<br />Learning about resources that can help overcome obstacles<br />
  3. 3. Shared Awareness <br />Beauregard believes that sustainability begins with attention to shared needs<br />Political struggle of today is NOT about power, but about recognition, the recognition of needs.<br />A politics of recognition requires a discursive democracy<br />
  4. 4. Shared Awareness <br />Shared awareness begins with conversation. It is an aggregation of ideas that forms the ground for collective action<br />Hegel’s collective world building, <br />Appadurai’s imagination as staging ground for action.<br />Anderson’s notion of the “embryo of the nationally imagined community” that emerged after printing press.<br />Clay Shirky’s description of the Korean teenage protestors who connected in an online boy band forum.<br />
  5. 5. Surrounded by Others <br />When we become aware of our needs in relation to others, we begin to negotiate our needs with others needs.<br />Negotiation as a form of empathy.<br />The city cultivates empathy because we are constantly in public:<br />“In them [public spaces], people will encounter strangers…living together under these circumstances means learning how to be tolerant of others. This provides the basis for empathy and for a willingness to engage with those unlike ones self.” -Beauregard<br />
  6. 6. Negotiated Interests and Sustainability<br />The passage for a private story to become public is for the storyteller to consider “alternatives understandings and to differentiate among personal responsibility, private interests, and public concerns.” –Beauregard<br />When people can share their stories and negotiate understandings, they are more likely to become concerned with the sustainability of their shared world<br />Sustainability emphasizes the concerns that people hold in common.<br />
  7. 7. Places to Share<br />Information Grounds: A space with a primary activity that has information sharing as a secondary outcome.<br />Oldenburg’s concept of the “Third Place.,” a space between work and home where informal sharing of information takes place.<br />Coffee shops, bars, libraries, gyms…foot clinics…<br />
  8. 8. Third Place<br />Characteristics of a Third Place:<br />Occur on neutral ground<br />No formal criteria for membership<br />Conversation as main activity<br />Accessible<br />Information flow as byproduct of social interaction.<br />
  9. 9. QBPL<br />Before coming to the United States, immigrants bound for Queens are told to connect with the QBPL to learn about valuable resources in their community.<br />The librarian act as nodes of information transfer<br />
  10. 10. Information Grounds on Campus<br />Students found face to face contact as a desirable feature of IG when compared to online information retrieval.<br />This point emphasizes the social component of IG.<br />Proximity is most important characteristic of IG.<br />Almost half of students said they knew people at their IG by name.<br />50-75% of students said information encountered at IG was by chance.<br />
  11. 11. Felicitous Encounter <br />Hardt and Negri: <br />“The great wealth of the metropolis is revealed when the felicitous encounter results in a new production of the common—when, for instance, people communicate their different knowledge’s, different capacities to form cooperatively something new. The felicitous encounter, in effect, produces a new social body that is more capable than either of the single bodies was alone.”<br />Jane Jacobs: <br />Says that cities should be designed to promote informal encounters. If they are people will be more resourceful.<br />Granovetter’s Strength of Weak Ties:<br />People who have a larger network of weak ties are more resourceful than those with large strong tie networks.<br />
  12. 12. Complementary Public Space<br />Online Neighborhood Networks:<br />As much as we like to praise the city and the values of proximity, sometimes distance is not the only problem.<br />The Value of Asynchronous Communication:<br />Members of the same neighborhood who don’t live close or are on different schedules can engage in conversation.<br />Asset Based Community Development: Mapping assets of the community boosts awareness of what is available. People engage in collaborative mapping to share what they know.<br />