Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design


  • Michiel de Lange Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Martijn de Waal University of Amsterdam




Over the last few years, the term ‘smart cities’ has gained traction in academic, industry, and policy debates about the deployment of new media technologies in urban settings. It is mostly used to describe and market technologies that make city infrastructures more efficient, and personalize the experience of the city. Here, we want to propose the notion of ‘ownership’ as a lens to take an alternative look at the role of urban new media in the city. With the notion of ownership we seek to investigate how digital media and culture allow citizens to engage with, organize around and act upon collective issues and engage in co–creating the social fabric and built form of the city. Taking ownership as the point of departure, we wish to broaden the debate about the role of new media technologies in urban design from an infrastructural to a social point of view, or from ‘city management’ to ‘city making.’

Author Biographies

Michiel de Lange, Utrecht University, Netherlands

part–time Lecturer in New Media Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands, and runs a freelance research office for new media and urbanism. He co–founded The Mobile City (http://www.themobilecity.nl), an independent research group that investigates the influence of digital media technologies on urban life, and implications for urban design.

Martijn de Waal, University of Amsterdam

assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is a co–founder of The Mobile City, and apart from academia also runs The Public Matters, an office that advises cultural, media, non–profits and government organizations on the role of new media in the public sphere.




How to Cite

de Lange, M., & de Waal, M. (2013). Owning the city: New media and citizen engagement in urban design. First Monday, 18(11). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v18i11.4954