We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Crang, M. Public Space, Urban Space and Electronic Space: Would the real city please stand up? Urban Studies. 2000;37:301-317.

Author(s) from Durham

Other versions of this publication


Commentary around the electronic media has raised issues of political action, community formation and changing identities. This paper explores how the notions of 'public space' can inform this debate over electronic media. It examines the metaphorical adoption of urban models to look at electronic sociality and suggests four principle approaches: cities set in or against world flows, suburbanised telecities, communitarian visions and accounts that appeal to a renewed public sphere. The paper examines how these share many assumptions. However, instead of trying to sift these metaphors by contrasting them to a purported real world, the paper examines how they shape an electronic architecture. Spatial metaphors and electronic practices are seen as entangled and shaping each other. The paper suggests that the different metaphors for the city reflect a range of anxieties about and desires for urban life. In this sense, the 'real' city is the indefinable complexity and folding of spaces—lying outside the visualisations offered of cyberspace.

Department of Geography