"inspired centers of civic life"

James Howard Kunstler described successful public spaces as “inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good”.

An insightful exploration of our public park metaphor over on the Future is Personal from project partner Max Van Kleek helps to reveal our motivations for using parks as a way of developing tools for personal data.

 

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

"Public parks serve several important roles for inhabitants of urban spaces. While granting city dwellers a respite from their private, work and home settings, they provide a rare opportunity for the paths of peoples’ otherwise highly partitioned lives to intersect and mix in a pleasant, complementary, rather than competitive, manner.  In effect, public commons like parks provide a preciously rare setting for spawning spontaneous serendipitous exchanges of information, sociality, and mutual awareness."

"While digital space and physical space have many dissimilarites, the affordance of letting people share and meet serendipitously and spontaneously has been shown to be core to fostering community and social awareness in both.  Although “Web 2.0” has ushered a great many examples of online spaces where people who may otherwise not know each other may meet and interact directly or indirectly, these “public spaces” of the Web today are not public at all, but only somehwat curated by their participants, under the centralized control of their providers, be them Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter or countless others.  These services transparently (or in some cases, overtly) modulate the interactions that take place in these spaces often to benefit the service provider’s own purposes."

"The development and vision of Personal Data Stores (PDSes), however, may represent a pivotal turning point for interactions on the Web.  The simple idea of PDSes is that, like the physical goods and possessions people keep in their private spaces, individuals are able to fully control the data that is theirs, including the ways it is stored, used, and shared with others.  In such a setting, people can control the ways that their data can be disclosed, shared and mixed with others’; therefore, PDSes can be seen as a building block for a new type of democratised digital public space governed by its participants."

 

Read the full essay from Max here.