Our interactions with cities are increasingly mediated through a complex array of technologies, including location-aware mobile devices and a vast number of online platforms. However, we often also use these tools to create content about the places that we live in and travel through. My thesis examines what I define as “place-based media,” that is, user-generated content produced about place. This content – photos of street life, overheard quotes, and local reviews, for example – emerges out of daily routines, and has a reciprocal relationship with the urban environment, both contributing to, as well as reflecting the life of the city. In this thesis, I aim to explore the relationship between the technologies and practices involved in the production of place-based media. In my approach, I situate place-based media within relevant historical precedents, such as street photography. In addition, I examine content produced about a single neighborhood, Central Square, Cambridge, in order to better understand the social and affective qualities of content that is created in dialogue with place. Ultimately, this project examines the production of place-based media as an everyday urban practice, with an eye towards the potential implications these media could have for contemporary cities and city neighborhoods.
The City Expressed: Everyday Media Production and the Urban Environment