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Multispeed cities and the logistics of living in the Information Age.

Crang, M. and Graham, S. D. N. (2005) 'Multispeed cities and the logistics of living in the Information Age.', Project Report. Economic and Social Research Council, Swindon.


We now have a wealth of data on how the use of information and digital technologies (ICTs) is unevenly mapped onto different income, gender and ethnic groups. However we remain poorly equipped to understand how ICTs, with their intrinsic abilities to transcend barriers of space and time, relate to the fine grain of people’s lives on the ground in cities and neighbourhoods. ICTs contract space in enabling us to contact distant friends, pick up voice mail and order goods. Mobile phones on the move short-circuit time to an instant. But what are the effects of these space and time manipulations on the actual logistics of our interaction with other people? And what does it mean for people and neighbourhoods who do not have access to ICTs to live in a world that is being restructured to suit those who do? This project helps to fill these and allied gaps in our knowledge by simultaneously examining how ICTs relate to social inequalities through their use in orchestrati! ng the social time-space worlds both of a privileged and of a marginalized neighbourhood in Newcastle upon Tyne. Key Findings • Measures of the “digital divide” based on ICT ownership are inadequate to depict the complex patterns of use and access to a variety of technologies. For example, respondents in the poorer area may not have had access to, say, the Internet nor used online services, but they often relied on neighbours, family or friends to provide access. ICT use is often more collective and collaborative, beyond the household level, which suggests some caution over widely used official, individualistic measures. • In the richer area ICTs formed pervasive infrastructures underpinning everyday life, to such an extent that respondents could not say when they specifically used a technology because it was on all the time. In the poorer area, ICT use tended to be for specific purposes, which were recalled as discrete events marked out by their use of advanced technology. • Research on ICTs can profitably use a conceptual framework which emphasises the way in which interactions that do and do not use ICTs inter-relate to shape the detail of subjects’ everyday life. Such an approach allows research to address the ways in which multiple ICTs are used simultaneously and in subtle and continuous combination. • The relaxing of restrictions imposed by time and space that ICTs can give offers new possibilities for structuring the rhythms of daily life. Crucially, this leads not to a disembedding from local life but to forging new interactions within cities. Other Findings • By having ICTs as an “always on” background, affluent and ICT literate groups benefitted from accelerating lifestyles and mobility patterns and are enabled to cram extremely dense and flexible patterns of transaction, communication and information exchange into the logistical framework of their lives. • ICT use in the more marginalized neighbourhood tended to offer occasional support to existing patterns of everyday life. About the Study The project deployed an innovative cascade of methods to establish how ICT- mediated and place-based activities intersect to define together the logistics of everyday life for the affluent Jesmond and a relatively marginalized “off line” Blakelaw neighbourhood in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information:Part of the ESRC E-Society research programme: (ESRC Grant RES-335-25-0015)
Keywords:ICT, Digital divide, Newcastle upon Tyne, Llifestyle, Internet.
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Record Created:24 Apr 2008
Last Modified:06 Jul 2011 16:30

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