Mobile Culture and Urban Spaces

Mobile Culture and Urban Spaces

Lecturer: Joatan Preis Dutra
Credits: 6 ECTS, 2 SWS
Date: Thursday, 13:30 - 15:00h
Venue: Marienstraße 7b, Room 105
First meeting: 18.10.2012


This class is designed for media students who are interested in an introduction about how the digital media are present in the urban spaces, and how it can be related to cultural aspects, through mobile devices gadgets. Nowadays, technology is present on most part of people’s daily life. Digital equipment belongs to the people’s routine and they are increasingly amalgamated to the daily activities and are integrated in a way such that perceptions of technology are, somehow, decreasing. On the other hand, the amount of technological gadgets spread on cities can constitute themselves as a medium.

Another phenomenon that occurs at the same time came from the permanent connectivity (an ubiquitous scenario) reinforced by the mobile devices, specifically the smartphones. The everyday new possibilities through them can configure an important role in the society. It is far behind the time when, in order to enjoy a historical and cultural experience, it was necessary to visit a museum or to buy a guide to check the information about the monuments and historical buildings in a city. Despite the importance of these institutions and options, the technology allows the expansion of the concept one step further, and cities itself can be used as open air museums.

If the technology can bring the world in a small scale of a mobile screen by enhancing the museums and galleries possibilities, the portable technology can also add elements to the real world, changing the perception of urban spaces. There are no more limitations about space, neither about the opening hours to provide to the visitors a complete and empowered cultural experience. Mostly, the already developed applications and games using mobile devices to interact with urban spaces are dealing with tangible elements of the culture. A mobile app could also work for intangible and tangible elements, in order to enhance the knowledge regarding it.

This class is an invitation to theoretical and practical perspectives to observe digital media and in urban scenarios, addressed for cultural purposes. It is a methodological and creative approach to analyze the mobile culture role in the urban spaces, under a theoretical and interpretative approach.

IMPORTANT: You don't need previous knowledge in Android, iOS or even any type of programming skills. This class is more focused on the design and navigation aspects.

German description

Diese Klasse richtet sich an Studenten, die Interesse an Medien, wie die digitalen Medien sich entwickeln in den urbanen Räumen sich kommunizieren und wie sie in kulturellen Aspekten zusammenhängen, bis hin zu Applikationen auf mobilen Endgeräten.

Diese Klasse ist eine Einladung zur theoretischen und praktischen Auseinandersetzung, um digitale Medien zu beobachten und urbanen Szenarien zu bewerten. Es ist ein methodischer und kreativer Ansatz, um die mobilen Angebote in den städtischen Räumen zu analysieren, unter einem theoretischen und interpretatorischen Ansatz.


  • Media, Digital and Digital Media
  • Mediatization
  • Categorizations of Digital Media
  • Cultural Preservation
  • Tangible and Intangible Cultures
  • Mobile Media

Target Group

Master students in the Faculty of Media
(Bachelor students are welcome, despite the class will be in English)


The course and activities will be held in the English language.

Registration Procedure

Please send your application by email with the Subject Mobile Culture and Urban Spaces to: joatan.preis.dutra (at)

  • Name, Surname
  • Program and semester (Studienprogramm und Fachsemester)
  • Matriculation number (Matrikelnummer)
  • Valid email address (no other mailing addresses will be accepted) Why?


  • 15% Short presentation of an existing mobile application (List of presentations)
  • 40% Presentation of the prototype
  • 40% Submission of a short paper (3 to 5 pages, ACM or APA Style)
  • 5% Participation in the classes and personal involvement
Mobile Culture and Urban Spaces

Homework - Assignment

This class will be graded based on one assignment divided in three major tasks, which are complementary. In other words, the first task will be a preparation for the second and the third one is a compilation of the first two. In the end, the final assignment will be the result of the work that will be developed during the semester:

  • Mobile applications for cultural purposes - 5 to 10 min presentation (15%)
    (List of presentations)
    Based on a given table of analysis, each student will choose an application (for any of the mobile operational systems) and present for the classes. Some items such as design, HCIHuman-computer interaction and so one should be observed. If possible, the students should install and test it by themselves. When it is not possible, the evaluation could be based on the developers information.
    The presentation should be a short slide collection, with a description of the application, contextualizing it, plus the application screens, pointing the suggested observed points.
    Slides in a PDF format should be delivered electronically after the presentation in order to complete the task.
  • Seminary presentation – 15 to 30 minutes (40%)
    Each student should present a conceptual prototype (not a real one, just a design concept), developed for mobile devices, for cultural purposes.
    It is encouraged to be developed using the Weimarpedia content, but not restricted to.
    Another possibility is to analyze an existing mobile app for cultural purposes, and propose a new conceptual model inspired on it.
    For the conceptual model is expected to show, at least, one complete feature navigation, instead of just a “welcome screen”. The student should provide the entire mock-up for accessing a functionality. For instance, if the user wants to select a feature from the welcome screen, which steps (and how many “buttons” should be pressed) until achieve the desired information.
    It is expected for this exercise the use of HCIHuman-computer interaction and design guidelines for the interface design and navigation. For instance, following the guidelines developed for iOS and Android platforms (according to the students’ choice), such as:

What will be evaluated in this Assignment: design aspects, navigation and justification of the chosen solutions.

  • Short essay production – 1000 words +samples and references (40%)
    The content present during the short seminary must be also presented as an essay. It must have: 100 to 150 words as a short introduction plus 800 to 1000 words of development. Samples and references will not figure in this account, but they must figure inside the essay. Complete references are required.
    The topic of the essay can be an academic report regarding the seminary presentation, or another topic regarding mobile culture and urban spaces.
    What will be evaluated in this assignment: ability to express in written format, content structure and content quality, plus the correct use of references. In this assignment will not be corrected grammar or vocabulary, as far the student can express the content properly.
  • Participation in class / activities (5%)
    The student participation will be count, especially to round up - or not - the final grade.

Class Schedule/Details and Presentation files

1st Week (18.10.12):

  • Introduction and presentation about the topics for future developments in class.

2nd Week (25.10.12):

  • The formation of the cities.
  • What is Media (media, digital and digital media) and urban spaces, culture and urban spaces.

3rd Week (01.11.12):

  • The mediatization process of urban scenarios.
  • How digital media devices can be categorized.

4th Week (08.11.12):

  • The tangible and intangible elements of cultural heritage.
  • Cultural preservation in urban spaces: theoretical and empirical approaches.
  • Dynamics for selection of themes for the presentations and papers – what is expected from the students.

5th Week (15.11.12):

  • 1st Part – Mobile App Presentation (List of presentations)
  • Student(s) presentation(s) on the samples regarding the cultural mobile apps. In order to optimize the time, all the presentation slides must be sent until 23:59h of the day before by e-mail. The PDFs (or PPTs) are going to be available in just ONE computer to turn easier and faster the groups changing.

6th Week (22.11.12):

  • 2nd Part – Mobile App Presentation (List of presentations)
  • Student(s) presentation(s) on the samples regarding the cultural mobile apps. In order to optimize the time, all the presentation slides must be sent until 23:59h of the day before by e-mail. The PDFs (or PPTs) are going to be available in just ONE computer to turn easier and faster the groups changing.

7th Week (29.11.12):

  • Prototype guidelines.
  • Formats, styles.
  • Plagiarism, etc.
  • Reference management (ie: , EndNote).

8th to 13th Weeks (06-20.12.12 | 10-24.01.13):
4 presentations per day.

14th Week (31.01.13):

  • Closing lecture & Feedback.

15th Week (07.02.13):
Deadline for the paper/essay: 23:59

References - Selected Readings

1. Digital / New Media

2. Mobile Culure

  • Pachler, N., Bachmair, B., Cook, J., & Kress, G. (2009). Mobile Learning: Structures, Agency, Practices. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4419-0584-0
  • Poels, K., de Kort, Y., & Ijsselsteijn, W. (2007). “It is always a lot of fun!”: exploring dimensions of digital game experience using focus group methodology. Proceedings of the 2007 Conference on Future Play_: November 14-17, 2007, Toronto, Canada (pp. 83-89). New York N.Y.: ACM. Retrieved from
  • Ronchi, A. M. (2009). eCulture : cultural content in the digital age. Dordrecht; London: Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-75273-8
  • Samkange-Zeeb, F., & Blettner, M. (2008). Emerging aspects of mobile phone use. Emerging Health Threats Journal, 2. doi:10.3134/ehtj.09.005. Retrieved from
  • Straubhaar, J., LaRose, R., & Davenport, L. (2011). Media now: understanding media, culture, and technology (7th ed.). Boston MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4390-8257-7

3. Urban Spaces

  • Brighenti, A. M. (2010). New Media and the Prolongations of Urban Environments. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 16(4), 471-487. doi:10.1177/1354856510375528. Retrieved from
  • Champion, E. (2011). Playing with the past. Springer-Verlag New York Inc. ISBN 978-1-84996-500-2
  • Eckardt, F., & Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. (2008). Media and urban space: understanding, investigating and approaching mediacity. Berlin: Frank & Timme. ISBN 9783865961426 (Read online at
  • Hannerz, U. (1980). Exploring the city: inquiries toward an urban anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-2310-8376-8
  • McQuire, S. (2008). The media city: media, architecture and urban space. Los Angeles Calif.: Sage. ISBN 9781412907934

4. Methodology

5. Interface Design Guidelines for mobile platforms