Conference at TU Delft: Role of New Media in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance

May 16-17, Delft University of technology will host a conference titled Using ICT, Social Media and Mobile Technologies to Foster Self-Organisation in Urban and Neighbourhood Governance.

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Conference Theme and Issues

The use of social media and mobile communication technologies has grown rapidly over the last years. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, MSN, Blogger, ICQ, Blogspot, RSS feeds and mobile Internet technologies have facilitated a constant increase in the number of virtual networks. Research has shown that Internet and virtual networks give rise to personalised communities that exist both in virtual and real spaces. The spatial-virtual intersection is prominent in ‘volunteered geographic information’, that is created by individuals who use geo-visualization interfaces (Google Maps).

The popularity of Facebook, Twitter and other social media has spurred a demand for new forms of self-organising governance by citizens and forms of participatory planning. However, real two-way communication between residents and policymakers through social media is still scarce. Standard public participation instruments (e.g. town hall meetings) are outdated, unappealing, disconnected from residents’ needs and difficult to fit into daily activity schemes. Hence, resident involvement in neighbourhood affairs and collective action are often below the potential given residents’ willingness to contribute.

Whereas many recognise the potential of social media to involve new groups (e.g. youths) and offer new ways of communication and participation, there is little knowledge on the utility, mobilising potential and effectiveness of social media and mobile technologies in this context. How can social media supplement other participation forms? What about take up rates of social media-based platforms? To what extent do virtual platforms really affect decision-making and residents’ approach towards local everyday liveability issues? What are preconditions and restrictions for effectively using ICT and social media in self-organisation? And to what extent do new practices require adjustments of theories of active citizenship, social capital, participatory planning and collective action?