The rise of mobile food vending in US cities combines urban space and mobility with continuous online communication. Unlike traditional urban spaces that are predictable and known, contemporary vendors use information technology to generate impromptu social settings in unconventional and often underutilized spaces. This unique condition requires new methods that interpret online communication as a critical component in the production of new forms of public life. We suggest qualitative approaches combined with data-driven analyses are necessary when planning for emergent behavior. In Charlotte, NC, we investigate the daily operations, tweet content, and spatial and temporal sequencing of six vendors over an extended period of time. The study illustrates the interrelationship between data, urban space, and time and finds that a significant proportion of tweet content is used to announce vending locations in a time-based pattern and that the spatial construction of events is often independent of traditional urban form.
Fernandez-Planells, A., Figueras-Maz, M., & Pàmpols, C. F.
Recently, social movements worldwide have introduced innovations in their communication methods. The #spanishrevolution that started on 15 May 2011 shows this new-style communication in action. Amidst regional election campaigning, thousands of people, mainly young, took to the streets and occupied Spain’s main squares, becoming known as the Outraged (los Indignados) or 15M Movement. This article evaluates how the Outraged involved with the #acampadabcn, the camp in Barcelona’s central square, used online–offline tools to get information about the Movement. This research combines participant observation, surveys, in-depth interviews, and web analytics. The results show that social media were vital for getting information during 15M. While the majority of those surveyed became aware of the camps via word of mouth, a posteriori it was social media that were the main tools for informing and mobilizing. 15M Movement, together with networked social movements, has updated the communication methods of social movements.
As a growing number of social media platforms now include location information from their users, researchers are confronted with new online representations of individuals, social networks, and the places they inhabit. To better understand these representations and their implications, we introduce the concept of the “spatial self”: a theoretical framework encapsulating the process of online self-presentation based on the display of offline physical activities. Building on previous studies in social science, humanities, and computer and information science, we analyze the ways offline experiences are harnessed and performed online. We first provide an encompassing interdisciplinary survey of research that investigates the relationships between location, information technology, and identity performance. Then, we identify and characterize the spatial self as well as examine its occurrences through three case studies of popular social media sites: Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare. Finally, we offer possible research directions and methodological considerations for the analysis of geocoded social media data.
Nolan E. Phillips, Brian L. Levy, Robert J. Sampson, Mario L. Small & Ryan Q. Wang
The social integration of a city depends on the extent to which people from different neighborhoods have the opportunity to interact with one another, but most prior work has not developed formal ways of conceptualizing and measuring this kind of connectedness. In this article, we develop original, network-based measures of what we call “structural connectedness” based on the everyday travel of people across neighborhoods. Our principal index captures the extent to which residents in each neighborhood of a city travel to all other neighborhoods in equal proportion. Our secondary index captures the extent to which travels within a city are concentrated in a handful of receiving neighborhoods. We illustrate the value of our indices for the 50 largest American cities based on hundreds of millions of geotagged tweets over 18 months. We uncover important features of major American cities, including the extent to which their connectedness depends on a few neighborhood hubs, and the fact that in several cities, contact between some neighborhoods is all but nonexistent. We also show that cities with greater population densities, more cosmopolitanism, and less racial segregation have higher levels of structural connectedness. Our indices can be applied to data at any spatial scale, and our measures pave the way for more powerful and precise analyses of structural connectedness and its effects across a broad array of social phenomena.