Research

My research addresses the nature of urban life in an increasingly mediated world. This focus, at the junction of urban and media studies, has led me to connect to debates across several disciplines, including media and cultural theory, geography, sociology, science and technology studies, and political theory.

One central area of research is the ways in which urban spaces have been a longstanding focus for, as well as a milieu of, professional and amateur journalism. I am currently working on a book titled Media and Urban Public Life which focuses on the changing geographies of journalism, technology and organization. Though centred on an ethnography of the Toronto Star within the wider Toronto media scene, this book goes beyond news-making or news content per se, exploring the genealogies, infrastructures, architectures and lived spaces of journalism in and through the city.

I am also currently developing a range of projects on the apparent convergence between digital platforms and emergent post-millennial discourses that seek to revalorise urbanism and localism. I am currently exploring recent efforts by policymakers and philanthropic organisations to research and fund experiments in ‘hyperlocal’ media, particularly those that make use of location-based media devices, platforms and data. In another collaborative pilot project focused on East London, I am exploring how the architectures and uses of social media platforms are beginning to remediate how planning professionals and their publics engage with issues and controversies around urban change.

Another way to describe my work is to list what can only be described as recurring fixations. The first of these is an interest in the specificity of ‘the urban’, and especially how media practices and technologies might be seen as basic conditions of possibility for an urban politics or urban public culture. Secondly, as a geographer by training, I’m interested in critical dialogues between spatial thinking and media theory. Finally, I tend to think about most of my research as studying the relationships between social practices and material or technological environments. In this respect, I have theoretical and methodological interests in broad areas such as practice theory, ethnomethodology, actor-network theory, phenomenology and object-oriented ontology, as well as specific writers such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, McLuhan, Latour, Harman, Bourdieu, Garfinkel and others.

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