Places: People, Events, Loci – the Relation of Semantic Frames in the Construction of Place

  • Steve HarrisonEmail author
  • Deborah Tatar


The central point of this paper concerns the way the particular contexts of people, events and loci constitute places through the pragmatics of being and acting in physical space and how this can give designers traction over place design. Although we focus here on meaning associated with the concept of “place”, unlike some thinkers, we also believe that spaces have meaning. Our point is not to engage in a competition between phenomenologies, but to develop a rich description of the contribution to place of the semantic tangle of people, events, and loci as an aide in locating design alternatives. The semantic tangle consists of situated, mutually constituting resources. Patterns of moves and contexts that define and utilize those resources constitute different forms of place construction; in this paper, we focus on three: the linguistic participation of place, ritual, and ephemeral places. Approaches to CSCW may profit (1) from designing technology for multifaceted appropriation, (2) from designing specific places for specific people engaged in specific events in specific locations, or (3) by commutation, that is, a method of meaning making similar to detecting “just noticeable differences” by iteratively and self-consciously substituting related meaningful moves and contexts into the system of meaning.

Key words

place space people events loci semantic tangle embodied experience social construction social production ephemeral place re-place-ing space 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Art and Art HistoryVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Dept of Computer Science and PsychologyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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