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Interaction Design, Social Computing & Urban Planning

There are striking parallels in designing for social computing and creating living space, both starts with an interactive experience. Can those two fields cross-fertilize each other?

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In this video Tom Erickson, a veteran designer for IBM and Apple, talks about how urban planning has influenced his thinking about social computing platforms. In particular he refers to Jane Jacobs' influential book " The Life and Death of Great American Cities". The core principle is to design for interaction, for example to create opportunities for people to strike up conversations with strangers. 

I find these principles, while rather theoretical and high level, an intriguing perspective and I wonder whether the field of social computing could not also feed back to urban planning. Can we apply some of what we have learnt about online communities apply to actual cities? Can online communities be a starting point to (re-)build real world communities? Can the virtual world supplement the real one in meaningful ways to achieve vibrancy? 


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This is a Very interesting interview, I think you raise very important questions. I also agree with Anne regarding the increasing hybrid nature of our everyday interactions., I think that striking up conversations with strangers is definetley something that makes a city more vibrant and happy in general, most people are convinced that some places are just innapropriate to talk to strangers or just way to ackward to do so, maybe the reason is that these places havenĀ“t been designed for interaction and need to be aided by virtual applications?
For example, my roomate believes that it is easier and more comfortable to talk to a stranger when drinking, sadly enough this understanding is very well spread across teenagers and american culture (broadly and subjectively speaking here), the root for this belief I think is the fact that alcohol makes people lose self conciousness. Also it is interesting to see that long lasting relations usually develop after having fun with a person, this makes me think that we drink to have fun so that we can build relations. Alcohol aka less vulnerability + interaction= long lasting relationships and fun hahaha, My point being that maybe we could insert a new element into this formula that reduces vulnerability, promotes interaction and results in fun and stronger networks this in turn strengthening sense of belonging ?
Thanks for that great video

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