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On the role of theory

Quite often in my PhD process I have complicated discussions about the role of theory in my research. Today, looking through my Flickr photos I realised that one of them could serve as a good example.

Men people watchingA year ago I probably wouldn’t notice it or wouldn’t make a photo – it’s just a city scene during a lunch break. So, what happened between now and then?

I read some theory 🙂

Being driven by my personal interests in architecture and fascination with cities as well as sensing emergent parallels between city life and social processes in online spaces, I went through reading “Life between buildings” by Jan Gehl and City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. White (see Edges and Individual in a public space: learning from weblogs and cities for some background).

Those two books are full with observations of people sitting on the curb and discussions on why, how and where it happens as well as implications for the design of public places in cities.

Now, equipped with knowledge I took from those books I look at things differently, I notice things that I wouldn’t notice before and I know what questions to ask…

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2005/10/12.html#a1692; comments are here.

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