WiFi Geographies: Designing Interfaces and Interventions for Collaboration in Place

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Speaker: Laura Forlano, PhD, Cornell University



How can we reformat our cities and public spaces – and the architectures and technologies within them — as sites of collaboration and innovation? This presentation examines the ways in which WiFi enables the formation of networks of socio-technical spaces that reconfigure people, work and forms of organizing based on a year-long empirical research project. Theoretical debates about the social construction of technology, the importance of and attachment to place and the formation of ad-hoc “communities” are central to understanding the ways in which the use of wireless networks is allowing people to reorganize urban public space. These reconfigurations are reframed conceptually as codescapes in order to integrate digital information and physical space. This presentation will also report on an ongoing collaborative design project, Breakout!  Escape from the Office, which was presented by The Architectural League of New York as part of the Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City exhibition.

About the Speaker

Laura Forlano is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Interaction Design Lab in the Departments of Communication and Information Science at Cornell University. In 2008-2009, she was Kauffman Fellow in Law at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Forlano received her PhD in Communications from Columbia University in 2008. Her dissertation, “When Code Meets Place: Collaboration and Innovation at WiFi Hotspots,” explores the intersection between organizations, technology (in particular, mobile and wireless technology) and the role of place in communication, collaboration and innovation. Forlano is an Adjunct Faculty member in the Design and Management department at Parsons and the Graduate Programs in International Affairs and Media Studies at The New School where she teaches courses on Innovation, New Media and Global Affairs, Technology and the City, Technology Policy, Sustainable Design and Business Ethics. She serves as a board member of NYCwireless and the New York City Computer Human Interaction Association. Forlano received a Master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University, a Diploma in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Asian Studies from Skidmore College.