The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces Internet Use, Social Networks, and the Public Realm

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Executive Summary

Offlate changes to the structure of people's social networks, the mass media, and the form of public spaces may represent a confluence of social trends that constrain exposure to diverse issues, ideas, and opinions in the public sphere. This study examines these trends within the public realm: the impact of wireless Internet use (wi-fi) on urban public spaces, wi-fi users, and others who inhabit these spaces. Through extensive observations of seven parks, plazas, and markets in four North American cities and surveys of laptop users in those sites, it explore how this new technology is related to processes of democratic participation, privatism, and social interaction.

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