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Digital Public Space and the Creative Exchange: a Human-centred Approach to the Common Good

5th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication

This keynote conference contribution, selected for the 5th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication (University of Nicosia, 3-15 June 2013), and published in expanded form on the website, examines current definitions of, and attitudes towards, the Digital Public Space. The research is innovative in setting out a holistic visualisation of key social, economic and technological models underpinning the Digital Public Space, and examining potential ways in which future human interactions and behaviours might be construed within such a framework.

The article builds on research undertaken through the Creative Exchange, a £4m Arts and Humanities Research Council Creative Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Economy. This research focuses on two areas, ‘designing the digital public space’ and ‘dynamic structures for growth’, led by Brody with researchers based at the RCA, Lancaster and Newcastle Universities. The text was co-written with John Fass, who contributed research insights in areas of constructionism, narrativity, physical and digital interfaces, and computational thinking, working with Brody to frame key issues raised in the article. The underpinning research was also disseminated through keynote presentations focusing on the modelling of the Digital Public Space and related ethical issues at AHRC ‘Creative Exchange’ events in Manchester and London (2012 - 2013).

Drawing on debates associated with ownership, protection, privacy, social applications and governance, the article presents key questions for interrogating contemporary attitudes to the creation and dissemination of human knowledge mediated by digital technologies. Through this approach, the article examines specific issues such as inclusion, learning, community cohesion, memory and social identity, and grounds these in relation to contemporary and historical thought. By expanding current applications of physical, biological and computational models to broadcasting, publishing, exchanging and cataloguing data, the article explores the potential for new approaches to dynamic information, self-organising knowledge spaces, and narrative forms of communication.