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Reflection on Digital Cities  

Mika Yasuoka and Toru Ishida

A global phenomenon of establishing regional information spaces in the 1990s has explored possibilities of information and communication technology for facilitating and empowering city functions such as community activities, local economy, political discourse, and public services. The experimental living lab that connected physical and digital space emerged, and such technologically empowered activities were called digital cities, community networks, virtual cities, and cyber cities. Although characteristics of such digital cities differ from region to region, these early trials of regional information spaces often have something in common: regarded as a chaotic and unstructured engineering utopia, and evaluated and emphasized heavily from a technological excellence point of view. Looking back on the digital city activities in the early 21st century, the movements are often regarded as helping to formulate a direction of current urban digitalization and to create a solid foundation of smart city technologies that are embraced. From the digital city’s point of view, however, direct connections between the two forms of regional information spaces seem quite limited. Actors, stakeholders, and objectives and charms in the smart city largely differ from those in digital cities. In the era of smart cities, city-based information spaces become more commercialistic and political, and equivalent societal challenges in cities, which partially had emerged in digital cities, have become prominent. By reflecting on the trajectory of advancement of digital cities, and by revisiting digital cities from the smart city era, clear differences between digital cities and smart cities become evident. Among these differences, a diversity of approaches from technological, political, and socioeconomic agendas exists with varied balance. At the same time, the ongoing social, political, and industrial challenges are comparative, have rooted, or at least have been inherited largely from those of digital cities.

Article

Urban Communication  

Susan J. Drucker and Gary Gumpert

Cities themselves function as media of communication. They are places where messages are created, carried, and exchanged by structures, infrastructures, and people. Urbanity is an age-old phenomenon undergoing radical transformation as developing means of communication redefine traditional notions of place and space. Urban communication meshes population density, technology and social interaction. Urban communication, like urban studies, is an interdisciplinary field that provides a fresh perspective from which to view the city and its transformation. The communication lens offers valuable perspectives and methodologies for the examination of urban and suburban life. It conceptualizes the city as a complex environment of interpersonal interaction, a landscape of spaces and places that shape human behavior, and an intricate technological environment. The development of urban communication research and activities is traceable from the early works a diverse group of urbanists to more current research programs conducted by communication scholars. Urban communication foregrounds communication in the study of the urban landscape. The unique patterns and needs of urban dwellers and communities are examined in an age where cities are layered with media technologies. An increasing number of technologies enable information from the digital world to be layered onto the physical world through augmented realities, thereby altering the person–environment relationship by creating spaces in which users interact with their physical surroundings through digital media. The future of cities is increasingly influenced by media technology. Cities are global, connected, inclusive, livable, green, sustainable, mega, and smart. Cities have been identified as communicative cities. There are many ways of looking at communication and cities and the history and broad parameters of the growing area of urban communication.

Article

Mediating Multiculturalism in Postcolonial Southeast Asia  

Jason Vincent A. Cabañes

A nuanced understanding of how media matter in the diverse articulations of multiculturalism across the globe requires one to have a transnational sensibility. This is a scholarly disposition that entails being attuned to the role that different media platforms and genres play not only in how racial hierarchies of different societies are articulated, but also in how these hierarchies get entangled with each other. Although the literature about media and multiculturalism is already well established, it is often situated in the context of the West. These works understandably tend to be concerned with the mediation of multicultural issues that are most relevant to their situation, such as the legacies of empire and of settler colonialism. A transnational sensibility consequently necessitates an expansion of current discussions about media and multiculturalism beyond the West. Doing so can allow for a better understanding of how media get entwined with the distinct issues of cultural diversity that have emerged from a wider range of contexts. It also opens up an important vista from which to explore how the mediation of multicultural issues in different parts of the world might be linked to each other, and sometimes intimately so. A productive site to think through such a transnational sensibility to media and cultural diversity is the global cities of the Southeast Asian region. These places are exemplary of postcolonial multiculturalisms that are distinct from the kind of multiculturalism that can be found in the global cities of West. This article consequently juxtaposes two urban contexts that represent divergent approaches toward the mediation of colonially rooted cultural diversity. One is the city-state of Singapore, where there are overt public policies about managing plurality. The second is the Philippines capital of Metropolitan Manila (henceforth, Manila), where there is a general elision of public talk about plurality. The article takes a comparative lens to these two cities, assessing how their different mediations of postcolonial multiculturalism are entangled with broader global dynamics, including with each other.