Sweet Auburn Digital Media Initiative

Collaborative computing technologies such as social networks, mobile social games, and online communities enable groups and communities to connect, interact, and co-operate regardless of location or time. Yet, as critics have pointed out, while such technologies enable one to bridge a range of digital communities, they may take attention away from local involvement with neighboring individuals and diminish engagement with local issues and concerns of the geographic community. Moreover, information and communication technologies (ICTs) typically do not take into account their physical and spatial surroundings, particularly the unique characteristics and affordances that have traditionally constituted proximate social interaction and solidarity. Nonetheless, physical space and geographic social ties remain an important factor for neighborhood safety, improving the flow of information and aiding collective action among residents on issues that directly affect their surroundings.

The Sweet Auburn Digital Media Initiative aims to create a platform to inform and engage local communities through the mediation of shared public spaces and locative social applications. These applications seek to both highlight and preserve the important history of the neighborhood as a vital center of innovation, commerce, and community among African Americans and the center of the Civil Rights Movement during the era of segregation, as well as contribute to the current revitalization efforts within the neighborhood. Specifically, this project investigates the potentials and challenges of locative participatory media to facilitate interactions among citizens in public spaces, allowing them to initiate and sustain discussion about the historical significance and future visions of the community.

The integration of mobile Augmented Reality and social media is relatively new technology with potentials for raising awareness and community building that remain under-explored. Beyond its immediate impact on this local community in Atlanta, this project aims create a model approach and provide a platform that can be replicated in other communities throughout the United States.

In collaboration with Dr. Jay Bolter, Digital Media, Georgia Institute of Technology

Related publications and presentations:

[1] Nassim JafariNaimi, "Mrx as a Participatory Platform," Digital Creativity.

[2] Rebecca Rouse, Maria Engberg, Nassim JafariNaimi, Jay Bolter, "Mrx: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Mixed Reality Experience Design and Criticism," Digital Creativity.

[3] Rebecca Rouse, Maria Engberg, Nassim JafariNaimi, Jay Bolter, "Mrx Design and Criticism: The Confluence of Media Studies, Performance, and Social Interaction," Digital Creativity.

[4] Rebecca Rouse, Nassim Jafarinaimi, Maria Engberg, and Jay Bolter, “Writing, Performance, Design: Frameworks for Understanding & Creating New Narratives in Augmented Reality.” (Paper presented at HASTAC 2013 – The Storm of Progress: New Horizions, New Narratives, New Codes. York University, Toronto, Canada. April 2013).