December 2011: Eric Gordon: Designing Civic Spaces

December 13, 2011 at 6:30pm

Eric Gordon, Associate Professor of Media Arts, Emerson College

Venue: IBM Center for Social Software, 1 Rogers Street, Cambridge







Digital networks are changing how people expect to interact with one another and the world around them. From desktop browsing to location-aware social networks, for a growing amount of people, access to other people and information is fast, convenient, archivable and sharable. As people become accustomed to this, increasingly, they expect that those affordances be translated to their (offline) lives. Face-to-face engagement is influenced by expectations born of digital practices. For many, being local means having access to a global database of information and people. This presents a fascinating design challenge. Being local is not only defined by its limits. As such, when designers, scholars and community leaders seek to bring technologies to bear on local life, they need to consider how global networks and their corresponding practices are transforming what people want out of local connections.

This talk will explore several projects by the Engagement Game Lab, where traditional spaces of local engagement are augmented to incorporate more engaging and sustainable platforms for civic learning. I will talk specifically about how game dynamics and collaborative spaces can reframe the broader goals of civic life. I will discuss lessons from two recent projects: Participatory Chinatown (2010) and Community PlanIt (2011).


Eric Gordon’s work focuses on location-based media, media and urbanism, and games for civic engagement. He is an associate professor in the department of visual and media arts at Emerson College and he is the director of the Engagement Game Lab His book, The Urban Spectator: American Concept Cities From Kodak to Google (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth, 2010) is about the intersections of media and American urbanism. He is also the co-author of a book about location aware media called Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (Blackwell Publishing, 2011). In 2007, he co-founded the Hub2 project, which explores how virtual environments can engage people in community planning by enabling meaningful and sustainable deliberation. He was awarded a MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Grant to continue with this work. The result is the game Participatory Chinatown that launched in May 2010. His latest game project is called Community PlanIt

Evening Schedule

6:30-7 Networking & Socializing over Tea, Coffee, Drinks, Food; Joining BostonCHI

7-8:30 Meeting

8:30-9 Dessert! … And more Networking & Socializing