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Spoke at “Creating Community Environments” at ITP, NYU

(resposted from

I was a guest speaker at the wonderful Kristen Taylor’s seminar, Creating Community Environments, at New York University’s ITP program

I talked about my upcoming move to China to conduct one year of fieldwork. Here’s a short in-progress description of my research project and a link to my presentation. 

I also elaborated on the importance of understanding social ties as culturally embedded. Kristen had aleady assigned a piece that I wrote a few months ago as class reading, Privacy and The Anonymous user in China: Importance of understanding multiple cultural orientations towards guanxi/social connections. So we had a short discussion on why the meaning of a social ties are different China. 

I really enjoyed talking to a class of students from such diverse backgrounds. As I was leaving, Kristen started a discussion on potatoes as objects with agency based on their class assignment of Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. Yes, that is how cool this class is - you too should consider going through a life transition, move to NYC,  and enroll at ITP just to take Kristen’s next course in the Fall of 2011. And companies - pay attention to these students if you want to hire people who really understand communities from a holistic point of view.

Kristen Taylor's course at NYU's ITP

To learn more about the class, check out two things - 

  1. The Atlantic’s feature on Kristen’s class, How To Build an Online Community. Kristen not only provides the entire course reading list, but she also explains the context of each reading. It’s a lovely syllabus that ends up sounding more like a story - a testament to a great syllabus! She also includes links to each guest speaker that has come to the class every week. This seminar also has a really awesomely curated reading list that only a seasoned professor with an understanding of the most contemporary issues could put together - Kristen!
  2. Check out the course blog, CommunitP - this is a rich source of links, insights, and quotes on innovative approaches to online communities. Kristen also posts notes for each guest speaker’s talk. 

It also makes me happy to see that ITP is offering this type of class - it means that students are learning about how communities make use of technologies instead of just seeing communities as end-users of a design process.  ITP is an amazing program and they really do care about their students. You can tell because they take great efforts to bring in expert practitioners like Kristen  to teach courses in a field that changes faster than Tyra Banks. 


Several students asked me for a suggested list of readings. So I’ve come up with a superest of super short list of key texts that I continue to return to throughout my research. I read a lot of theory and the ethnographies that I have included are theoretical to the bone. 


Agre, Philip E. 2002. “Real-Time Politics: The Internet and the Political Process.” The Information Society 18:311-331.

Amin, Ash, and Nigel Thrift. 2002. Cities: reimagining the urban. Cambridge.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1988. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge University Press.

Axhausen, Kay, Jonas Larsen, and John Urry. Mobilities, Networks, Geographies. Great Britain, 2006.

Boyd, Danah. n d “White Flight in Networked Publics ? How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook.” 

Braman, Sandra. 2009. Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power. The MIT Press.

Brown, Barry, and Eric Laurier. 2002. “En-Spacing Technology: Some thoughts on the geographical nature of technology.” 1-11.

Capurro, Rafael. 2003. “Passions of the Internet.” Pp. 331-345 in Passions in economy, politics, and the media in discussion with Christian theology, edited by W. Palaver and P. Steinmair-Posel. Vienna: Lit Verlag.

Canclini, Nestor Garcia. 1995. Hybrid cultures: strategies for entering and leaving modernity. Minneapolis, {MN}.

Coleman, Gabriella, and Alex Golub. 2008. “Hacker practice: Moral genres and the cultural articulation of liberalism.” Anthropological Theory 8:255-277.

Crary, Jonathan. 1992. Techniques of the observer: on vision and modernity in the nineteenth century. MIT Press.

de Blij, Harm. 2008. The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization’s Rough Landscape. Oxford University Press, USA.

de Landa, Manuel. 1997. A thousand years of nonlinear history. Zone Books.

de Landa, Manuel. 2002. Intensive science and virtual philosophy. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1992. “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” October 59:3-7.

Dodge, Martin and Rob Kitchin. 2004. “Flying through code / space: the real virtuality of air travel.” Environment and Planning 36:195-211.

Dourish, Paul. 2007. “Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design.” Proceedings of the 2007 conference on Designing for User eXperiences - DUX ’07 2. 

Dourish, Paul and Geneviece Bell. 2007. ”The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space.” Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 34: 431 – 445.

DuGay, Paul, Stuart Hall, Linda Janes, Hugh Mackay, and Keith Negus. 1997. Doing cultural studies: the story of the Sony Walkman. London ; Thousand Oaks Calif.

Eglash, Ron. 2009. “Oppositional Technophilia.” Science And Technology

 Eglash, Ron. 2004. Appropriating technology: vernacular science and social power. U of Minnesota Press. 

Eglash, Ron, and Julian Bleeker. n d “The Race for Cyberspace: Information Technology in the Black Diaspora.” 1-12.

Foucault, Michel. 2001. Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 2nd ed. Routledge 

Fisher, Mark. 2009. Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? Winchester, UK; Washington, USA: Zero Books.

Gans, Herbert J. “The Sociology of Space: A Use-Centered View.” City & Community 1 (2002): 329-339.

Geyh, Paula. 2009. Cities, Citizens, and Technologies: Urban Life and Postmodernity. Routledge.

Gieryn, Thomas F. “Give Place a Chance: Reply to Gans.” City & Community 1, no. 4 (2002): 341-343. 

Graham, Stephen, and Simon Marvin. Splintering urbanism: networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. Routledge, 2001.

Green, Nicola. 2002. “On the Move: Technology , Mobility , and the Mediation of Social Time and Space.” The Information Society 18:281 - 292.

Gupta, Akhil, and James Ferguson. 1997. Culture, power, place : explorations in critical anthropology. Durham, {N.C.}.

Heidegger, Martin. 1954 “The Question Concerning Technology.”

Jacobs, Jane. 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. First Edit. Vintage Books.

Jacobs, Jane M. 1996. Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City. 1st ed. Routledge.

Ladner, S. 2009. “‘Agency time’: A case study of the postindustrial timescape and its impact on the domestic sphere.” Time & Society 18:284-305.

Marcuse, Peter. 2002. “Depoliticizing Globalization: From Neo-Marxism to the Network Society of Manuel Castells. “pp. 131-158 in Understanding the city: contemporary and future perspectives, John Eade and Christopher Mele. Oxford, UK; Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Massey, Doreen. 1994. “A Global Sense of Place.” in Space, Place and Gender. Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Lynch, Michael. 2000. “Against Reflexivity as an Academic Virtue and Source of Privileged Knowledge.” Theory, Culture & Society 17:26-54. 

Lynch, Michael. 1999. “Silence in Context: Ethnomethodology and Social Theory.” 211-233.

Ong, Aihwa, ed. 2004. Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems. Wiley-Blackwell.

Orgad, S. 2006. “The cultural dimensions of online communication: a study of breast cancer patients’ internet spaces.” New Media & Society 8:877-899.

Porter, Theodore M. 1996. Trust in numbers: the pursuit of objectivity in science and public life. Princeton University Press.

Porter, Theordore, and Theodore M. Porter. 1994. “Information, Power, and the View from Nowhere.” Pp. 217-230 in Information Acumen: The Understanding and Use of Knowledge in Modern Business, edited by Lisa Bud-Frierman. London: Routledge.

Poster, Mark, and David Savat, eds. 2009. Deleuze and New Technology. Edinburgh University Press.

Poster, Mark. 2006. Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines. Duke University Press.

Postill, J. 2008. “Localizing the internet beyond communities and networks.” New Media & Society 10:413-431. 

Rakow, Lana. 1992. Gender on the line: women, the telephone, and community life. Urbana.

Roszak, Theodore. 1994. The cult of information: a neo-Luddite treatise on high tech, artificial … University of California Press.

Sanusi, Alena, and Leysia Palen. 2007. “Of Coffee Shops and Parking Lots: Considering Matters of Space and Place in the Use of Public Wi-Fi.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 17:257-273. 

Schiller, Dan. 2006. How to Think About Information. Urbana.

Seiter, Ellen. 2008. “Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cultural Capital.” Digital Media 27-52.

Sheller, Mimi, and John Urry. 2006. Mobile technologies of the city. London ; New York.

Smith, Michael Peter. 2002. “Power in Place: Retheorizing the Local and the Global.” Pp. 111-130 in Understanding the city: contemporary and future perspectives, edited by John Eade and Christopher Mele. Oxford, UK; Malden, MA.

Swidler, Ann. 2001. Talk of love: how culture matters. Chicago.

Sundaram, Ravi. 2009. Pirate Culture and Urban Life in Delhi: After Media. Routledge.

Watts, Alan. 1998. The culture of counter-culture: the edited transcripts. C.E. Tuttle Co.

Whyte, William H. Jr. (1980) The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.

Williams, Raymond. 1987. “When Was Modernism ?” New Left Review 48-52.

Willis, Paul. 2000. The Ethnographic Imagination. Polity.

Wolf, Margery. 1992. A thrice-told tale: feminism, postmodernism, and ethnographic responsibility. Stanford University Press.

Ureta, Sebastian. 2008. “Mobilising Poverty?: Mobile Phone Use and Everyday Spatial Mobility Among Low-Income Families in Santiago, Chile.” The Information Society 24:83-92.

Urry, John. Mobilities. {UK}, 2006.

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