The augmented reality of the postdigital city

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Drawing on the postdigital assumption that digital technologies exist within the fabric of everyday society (Cormier et al. 2019), and are entangled with other biological, material and informational bodies (Jandrić et al. 2019) our presentation will consider the everyday augmented reality of the city. This follows events in Amsterdam, Bremen and London (Lamb et al. 2018) were we combined mobile learning with multimodality as a way of exploring our urban surroundings.

Even in the short time since our previous activities, the postdigital condition of the city has become more pronounced. The swipe of the mobile screen connects the pedestrian to a vast choice of music playlists and podcasts that augment a passage through the city. For centuries, the ringing of church bells, repetition of factory machines and other sounds supported an understanding of our surroundings. This opportunity to learn about the city can now be muted at the press of a touchscreen button.

We fill the moments waiting for a bus or taxi by following its progress through the city, as distant satellites map its location against our own. We too also tracked, as surveillance cameras and digital transactions pinpoint our movements. ‘Contactless payment’ is a misnomer when physical touch is replaced by connections where we electronically share personal information with a host of other human and non-human bodies.

In fact, the reality of the city is augmented even before stepping into the street. Prior to booking a hotel, we explore its locale through Google maps, before rehearsing our journey from the station. When we reach the city, the experience can be uncanny, with our part-knowledge potentially detracting from how we might otherwise have encountered those surroundings.

As well as exploring technologies in urban life, our session will contribute towards emergent research around postdigital learning spaces (see Lamb et al. 2022) and postdigital sound (see Ford (2022)).
Event titleParticipation and the Postdigital. Contemporary technologies and practices in education and urban life
Event typeConference
LocationBraunschweig, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational