Social media and a sense of place

Picked-up a link in twitter back in July to a post on the SustainableCitiesCollective – a forum I’d never come across before and one that I’ll dip into again. It aggregates blog posts and I picked up one from Julian Dobson who was commenting on the RebootBritain event. On his blog he posted – I’m sorry, Clay Shirky, nobody knows you around here. This is not only a wonderful title for a blog post but was also a very insightful contribution which caused me to think about new emerging digital divides,  such as those between the twitterati who profess to see the benefit of immersion in social media (using Web 2.0 tools) and those at the coal-face who either don’t (not even at the dabbling level), or who aren’t able to see how they can participate in any other way but at a trivial level – and thus contributing to the widely held assumption that indeed use of social media is all about trivia.

I commented at length and then managed to lose the comment I was making before posting it. {Don’t go there … please.} However, I wanted to record what came to mind here, because I think there are threads of a piece of work to be done here.

The most interesting point I felt is that Julian discusses the concept of place in the context of the use of social media. I didn’t know about digitalbutetown – a group in my own city. There’s no reason why I should, but it still came as a surprise to me because I like to think I’m pretty connected to what’s going on around me. It may have been discussed at the last meeting of trydan – a social media cafe group in Cardiff, but then again maybe it wasn’t. And that’s the point! Whilst we the enthusiasts are broadcasting to the world, the real value of social media moving forward will be where it is melded to social activisim linked to communities and places.

In a previous existance I was really interested in environmental psychology, and ideas of environmental perception and sense of place – how peoples’ perception of their environment could in impact upon their behaviour.  Now, by appropriate use of social media we have the ideal vehicle to enable communities to come together, to share and reflect together, and to move forward (changing their environment) together.

This post has been a long-time in “draft”, I’ll be returning to this theme and considering how social media could interact with ideas in environmental psychology to create different “sense of place”.

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