Public Wi-Fi: space, sociality and the social good

Alexander Townshend Lambert, Scott McQuire, Nikos Papastergiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Public Wi-Fi services are rolling out across Australia, with city councils and telcos
building large-scale networks in urban areas. Questions as to the value of public Wi-Fi have never been more significant in the Australian context. In this article we explore how free Wi-Fi services offered by cultural institutions and municipalities influence public spaces, and ask how such services can engender practices which promote the social good. Drawing on ethnographic research into six WiFi equipped spaces in Victoria, we find a variety of issues which influence whether a service will be popular and hence have a significant influence on public space. Services which are popular enable a range of uses, and this can add to the appeal and atmosphere of a space. However, Wi-Fi has yet to
truly facilitate the kind of social interactions and rich civic placemaking we associate with the social
good.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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