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Telecommunications, Spatial Infrastructure, and Spatial Interaction: Looking Through the Case of Seoul

Abstract

Since the early changes in the social structure of individuals’ lives engendered by telephone technology, the rapid evolution of telecommunications technologies influenced the transformation of cities and the communication patterns among people (Wheeler, Aoyama & Warf, 2000). As urban spaces became increasingly webbed with complex telecommunications networks, the impact of telecommunications on geographical space and boundaries has brought different views and interpretations. While some suggests the death of distance and the predominance of virtual spaces, some suggests the notion of physical space and face-to-face communication remaining at the center of human activities. This paper examines the phenomenon by focusing on the interactive mechanism between the spatial characteristics of cities and the patterns of changes brought by telecommunications from a multi-level perspective. The link between telecommunications development, spatial infrastructure of cities, and spatial interaction among people is viewed as inherently interactive and co-evolutionary, where each dimension influences each other in both directions and as a whole takes place in an open environmental space. Various types of urban spatial infrastructure and human interaction are examined as occurring at micro, meso, and macro level. The analysis includes a case study of Seoul which has gone through a remarkable transition in the penetration of new information communication technologies and infrastructure. Observation of the spatial characteristics of the city, the urban initiatives toward reconstructing the urban public spaces, and the pattern of human interaction grounded upon the physical space lead to the assessment that the notion of geographical space is still crucial in the urban landscape shaped by digital technologies.

Seungyoon Lee

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