Aug 30 2012

Placemaking 101

Last updated Sep 2012. Expect a Placemaking 202 list coming soon.

This list is not exhaustive. And while it certainly addresses the problem space of what is “place” once we move into (or in and out of) information space, it's not even a full-fledged thematic list, and it's decidedly idiosyncratic: some of the books here are milestones in the field, some others just explore interesting intersections. Others have pretty pictures (I'm joking. There's no pictures at all in there). Some books I've read that deal with place haven't made it, as they really belong to more specific lists on new media, architecture, game design (we are talking information spaces, aren't we?), crossmedia, and cross-channel (few precious resources out there, one being Pervasive Information Architecture).

And the books wander around a lot. You will find titles dealing with place-making in architecture, geography, map-making, narrative, software, the media, cultural anthropology, philosophy, information space.

While certainly incomplete, the list is inclusive, so you will find titles most people working in information architecture and user experience have at least heard of, such as Mitchell's “City of Bits”, side by side with obscure tomes that I think deserve a little more attention, such as for example Wertheim's “The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace”. Kevin Lynch's seminal “The Image of the City” is here, as is Otto Bollnow's “Human Space” (Mensch und Raum), finally translated into English and a must-read if you want to understand the very idea of anthropological space and where the connection between architecture and information architecture lies (for the not-so-committed: me and Luca Rosati provide an overiew in Chapter 4 of the PIA book).

You won't find any notes or comments, unfortunately. Honestly, that would have been too much work and the list would have never seen the light of day. But I read them all, for professional reasons, and I did take notes. If you have questions about a specific book or books, leave a comment. I promise I'll do my best to answer.

The list is in alphabetic order by author, and all entries link back to either their Amazon or Google Books pages. Hope you'll find it useful: enjoy. :: gjort är gjort
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