Our exclusive focus on online spaces had been at the expense of public space. This neglect has seen further deterioration of public space following trends of automobile domination and commercialisation - issues which many cities are begging to grapple with, while others such as Canberra continue to ignore. Transport hubs such as Circular Quay in Sydney are particularly vibrant, while tourist precincts that seek spectacle such as Darling Harbour in Sydney and Federation Square in Melbourne are overtly manicured, and commercialised cafe strips and shopping malls are tightly controlled. Skateboarders are designed out of public space, loitering teenagers are chased out, the homeless are evicted and even buskers have to audition. The State Library steps in Melbourne which are claimed organically as a sunny lunch spot is an often cited, but perhaps rare, example of open public space. The other most exciting public space in Melbourne is of course the lane ways, where hidden out of sight amongst the garbage there is more freedom for spontaneous expression.
|State Library in Melbourne|
|The Container Bar in Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne|
Again an example from Melbourne - the public can send simple SMS messages to be displayed on the facade of Federation Square, but there is not opportunity for this to link with wider discourses or be viewed elsewhere.
Federation Square, Melbourne
What might a more sophisticated public display be like? In terms of local and global, I am advocating a condition of 'both and'. Twitter is an ideal platform to use because it is not exclusive to a location. Twitter apps such as Twitter Streamgraphs, Tweetcloud, Twittermap and Trendsmap suggest a potential for making Twitter feeds endlessly navigable. Even in the simplest terms, if windows such as these can be projected or displayed in public space they can entice the public into new discourses.
|Twtter Streamgraphs visualises changing word associations over time as a stacked graph|
|Tweetcloud visualises word associations at a given time as a cloud|
|Twittermap visualises tweets in real time by location|
|Trendsmap visualises trending topics by location|
One final idea - architecture can take on a personified identity and interact directly with this discourse, as exemplified by the Tower Bridge opening a Twitter account.