Skip to main content

Privatizing Urban Space in the Mediated World of iPod Users

  • Chapter
  • 577 Accesses

Abstract

This chapter investigates the meanings attached to the sonic mediated habitation of public urban spaces, through analysis of the experiences of Apple iPod and smartphone users as they navigate their way through the city accompanied by the music contained in their personal technologies. Urban subjects text whilst walking, attention focused on the screen of their phone; talk to absent others on their smartphones; sit in trains reading from their iPads whilst simultaneously checking their emails; or sit engrossed in the latest snippet from their Facebook accounts. These forms of technologically mediated behavior question what it means to inhabit public urban space for many city dwellers. Public space is increasingly turned into a utilitarian space of private mediated activity. Time is reclaimed in terms of its “usefulness” and multi-tasked in relation to the possibilities embodied in users’ smartphones: “I’m not very good at doing one thing at once. I always feel that if I can do two things then it’s better” (Samantha).1 Streets walked through become secondary to the act of talking, texting, playing, listening or surfing. Awareness of others is equally recessed: “I work on the assumption that those people don’t know me, and I don’t know them. I’m not aware of any reaction I might be causing” (Lucy). Public space increasingly becomes a blank and neutral canvas on which to write one’s personal activity and experience.

Keywords

  • Public Space
  • Urban Space
  • City Life
  • Urban Citizen
  • Urban Culture

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

What people most want from public space is to be alone with their personal network.

(Turkle, 2011, p. 93)

Street walkers are so engrossed in their conversations that they do not apprehend what is going on around them despite their eyes being wide open … the evidence does not suggest that these reductions in the human qualities of public space are likely to be mere transient adjustments.

(Katz, 2006, p. 46)

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137027764_12
  • Chapter length: 17 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-137-02776-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  • Adorno, Theodor (1991) The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (London: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Augé, Marc (1995) Non-places: Introduction to Anthropology of Supermodernity (London: Verso).

    Google Scholar 

  • Baudrillard, Jean (1989) America (London: Verso Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Bauman, Zygmunt (2000) Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity).

    Google Scholar 

  • Benjamin, Walter (1973) Illuminations (London: Penguin).

    Google Scholar 

  • Bull, Michael (2000) Sounding Out the City: Personal Stereos and the Management of Everyday Life (Oxford: Berg).

    Google Scholar 

  • Bull, Michael (2007) Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience (London: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Certeau, Michel de (1988) The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Coyne, Richard (2010) The Tuning of Place. Sociable Spaces and Pervasive Digital Media (Cambridge: MIT Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Debord, Guy (1977) Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black and Red).

    Google Scholar 

  • Dyson, Frances (2009) Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault, Michel (1986) “Heterotopias”, Diacritics, Spring, 22–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Geurts, Kathryn Linn (2002) Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community (Berkeley: University of California Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibson, William (1993) Time Out (London), (6 October), 4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goggin, Gerard (2011) Global Mobile Media (London: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Howes, David (2003) Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • International Telecommunication Union (2011) Key Global Telecom Indicators for the World Telecommunication Service Sector, http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/at_glance/KeyTelecom.html, date accessed 20 April 2012.

  • Katz, James Everett (2006) Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life (New Brunswick: Transaction).

    Google Scholar 

  • Kracauer, Siegfried (1995) The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefebvre, Henri (1991) The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell).

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefebvre, Henri (2002) The Urban Revolution (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefebvre, Henri (2004) Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life (London: Continuum Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Marcuse, Herbert (1978) The Aesthetic Dimension (Boston: Beacon Press).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Morley, David (2000) Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity (London: Routledge).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Musil, Robert (1995) The Man Without Qualities (London: Picador).

    Google Scholar 

  • Sennett, Richard (1977) The Fall of Public Man (London: Faber and Faber).

    Google Scholar 

  • Sennett, Richard (1990) The Conscience of the Eye (London: Faber).

    Google Scholar 

  • Sennett, Richard (1994) Flesh and Stone (New York: Norton).

    Google Scholar 

  • Simmel, George (1997) Simmel on Culture (London: Sage).

    Google Scholar 

  • Sterne, Jonathan (2003) The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Durham: Duke University Press).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Turkle, Sherry (2011) Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books).

    Google Scholar 

  • Twin Peaks (1990–1991) Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Produced by Lynch/Frost Productions.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2013 Michael Bull

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Bull, M. (2013). Privatizing Urban Space in the Mediated World of iPod Users. In: Berry, C., Harbord, J., Moore, R. (eds) Public Space, Media Space. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137027764_12

Download citation