From social butterfly to engaged citizen by M Foth, L Forlano, C Satchell & M Gibbs

Linda Carroli
2012 Gateways : International Journal of Community Research & Engagement  
In 2009, two workshops exploring urban informatics were held: one at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and the other at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Research and inquiry into the changing landscape of technology-enabled engagement with communities, cities and spaces was presented at both of these events. From these gatherings of international scholarship and research, the book, From social butterfly to engaged citizen: Urban informatics, social media,
more » ... cial media, ubiquitous computing and mobile technology to support citizen engagement, was compiled. Within these agglomerations, through the lens of the emerging field of urban informatics, both the citizen and citizenship are under scrutiny. There is a clear sense of positioning urban informatics to play a role in the development of the public sphere and community. The editors are acutely aware of the challenge confronting them in their explorations of relations between the social, technology and space, noting a need to apply new hybridities, concepts, theories and methods for understanding such relationships. The book addresses five themes: theories of engagement; civic engagement; creative engagement; technologies of engagement; and design engagement. Obviously, engagement is a core organising thematic and, as both idea and ideal are explored in its breadth, not all engagement is the same. The critical question, as the editors describe, is to understand how various technologies can be harnessed for engagement to pursue diverse ends, including better engagement. However, in itself engagement is not tantamount to citizenship: it is one of many citizenship practices. As Iveson writes, it is not sufficient to facilitate citizen participation, but rather to ask 'What is the vision of the good citizen and the good city they seek to enact?' While technologies do not create the citizen, strategies of citizenship are enacted with and through them. The participation of citizens is not the only hallmark of progressive or empowering urban governance. Consequently, many of the projects in the book address engagement in terms of a communicative, conversational or informational process, for example 'Climate on the Wall'
doi:10.5130/ijcre.v5i0.2727 fatcat:cycklekkxfedpmpb3qggeu26pu