Between Post-Flaneur and Smartphone Zombie Smartphone Users Altering Visual Attention and Walking Behavior in Public Space

by   Gorsev Argin, et al.

The extensive use of smartphones in our everyday lives has created new modes of appropriation and behavior in public spaces. Recognition of these are essential for urban design and planning practices which help us to improve the relationship between humans, technologies, and urban environment. This study aims to research smartphone users in public space by observing their altering visual attention and walking behavior, and, in this way, to reveal the emergent new figures. For this purpose, Korenmarkt square in Ghent, Belgium, was observed for seven days in 10-min time intervals. The gaze and walking behavior of smartphone users were encoded as geo-located and temporal data, analyzed and mapped using statistical and spatial analysis methods. Developing and implementing new methods for identifying the characteristics of smartphone users, this study resulted in a nuanced characterization of novel spatial appropriations. The findings led to a better understanding and knowledge of the different behavior patterns of emergent figures such as post-flaneurs and smartphone zombies while uncovering their altering visual interactions with and movements in the public space. The results evoked questions on how researchers and designers can make use of spatial analysis methods and rethink the public space of the future as a hybrid construct integrating the virtual and the physical.



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