Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mayor of the Private

We've discussed social media and digital mapping in terms of the alternate realities they present. Networking and informational sites such as Facebook, FourSquare, twitter, and yelp, with the new alliances and networks they create, also have the potential to alter the perception and experience of space. For example, frequent check-ins to or reviews of a particular restaurant or business may increase/decrease the number of people visiting the service. The site for Team Orange of the TdMS spring 2011 studio encloses a predominantly residential community, making most of the discernible character inaccessible. However inward this information may be, the semi-private character of personal apartments is now broadcast through the various social media and digital mapping networks we are currently studying.

The adjacent map illustrates the network of Facebook and Four Square users that reside within the site. Their addresses are not provided directly, as would a white pages or Syracuse University directory. Each node categorizes the sex of the Four Square mayor, the street address, and the "place" of this data retrieval.

Does the exercise of creating this map reveal anything about the space of the site or the socio-spatial network of Facebook or Four Square?
  • More females check-in to their respective place of residence, perhaps providing the illusion that there are more women living in certain areas.
  • The perception of personal residence, a notably private space, may become clouded with the publicity of the location through social media networks. This seems even more likely with the naming of personal residence or addition of comments to Four Square locations. Checking-in to a restaurant and an apartment are treated with equality in the digital realm, but how will the prevalence and increasing popularity of social media sites alter the separation of public and private in the physical world?
  • Lastly...mayor of the private? When Four Square attributes political nomenclature to users frequently checking-in to a given location, even a residential apartment, are they also relating characteristics of power to the mayor and the space? For an apartment building, the mayor may represent a larger body of residents, but this power shifts in real-time with the number of residents that check-in. Again, I wonder how this socio-spatial community and its associated characteristics could shift the perception of the physical space...


  1. I think your study raises a really interesting emerging trend concerning technology/social networking as encroaching upon our ideas of private space. Sometimes on my Facebook feed I'll see someone "check-in" to their bed at night and tag their husband. It is really awkward. I'm curious to the types of effects this might have. On one hand, it is interesting that initially the team orange site seemed so inactive and mapping it through these technologies has helped create a more lively perception of it. However I'm still instinctively reserved about the permeation of the social digital realm into the private space.

  2. I remember reading something a while back (I don't quite remember the exact source), which argued that there is no such thing as private space anymore because of the prevalence of technology in modern life. Even in your bedroom you are linked in / checked in / accessibile for people to contact you, and total privacy is a thing of the past. I think your study definitely backs up that assumption. I think that listing "private" spaces on sites like FourSquare brings them farther into the public realm, and I am interested to see if this eventually begins to manifest in new ways in the physical world. Perhaps it will inspire new definitions and gradations of privacy as it relates to the modern lifestyle.