Monday 27 February 2012

Review- When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution by Nathan Jurgenson

Recently, we have been watching the rise of massive collective action across the world. Many researchers and journals try to explain this phenomenon through diverse reasons, but all these contributions are based on that the development of technology and the spread of internet stimulate the flow of the collective action like the Arab Uprising and Occupy Movement.

Until the Egyptian Revolution, the researchers had focused on how the internet technology impacts on the collective action and how social media organizes public into public spaces. However, during a series of demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and a long occupation of St.Paul in London, people have witnessed the powerful combination of virtual space and real space, and internet communication and public space. And then, the focus has been moving to the interactive relationship between on and off world.  

My supervisor Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith introduced an interesting article to provide an alternative understating of the interactive relationship on his blog Digital Urban. In the article ‘When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution', Future Internet 2012, 4(1), Jurgenson argues the global spread of massive collective actions shows the momentum to overcome ‘digital dualism’ which means virtual world and real world are independent and separate spaces. Instead of ‘digital dualism’, he suggests ‘augmented reality’ that implies on-off line together. Generally, ‘augmented reality’ has been understood as the term to indicate the virtual reality by computer software. But, in this article, the author explains augmented reality as another dimension through the combination of the digital and physical, and insists that the recent massive collective actions should be understood as ‘augmented revolution’ instead of ‘SNS Revolution’ or ‘Internet Revolution’.

Before his article, Manuel Castells suggested the terminology ‘Hybrid space’ which explains strong communicative relationships between the internet space and the physical space in his LSE lecture 'Social Movements in the Age of the Internet' last year. Castells introduced ‘Hybrid space’ as a public sphere (the word of Habermas) process to exchange public opinions and consolidate the identity of the collective actions by exposing its characteristics to public. While Castells regards ‘Hybrid space’ as a formless and multi-layered process, ‘augmented reality’ of Jurgenson could be seen an outcome by the interactions between on and off worlds.

 This article is not long but suggests some notable points to understand current social changes. You can find it and freely download here.

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