Friday, October 30, 2009

"Open Club" for "Open Cities"

Open Clubs are an are public and non-discriminating, and thrive on internet social networks to of like interest together in the city. Spending time on line can take away from daily contact, however it has the ability to reach an expansive amount that it can be used to form community. It remineded me of a group my friend had been trying to get together online – Baltimore Fun Club. In the beginning it was mostly to get together friends and friends of friends on a larger scale for simple no pressure fun activites such as “kickball, baseball, frisbie, tag, polo, football, dodgeball, horseshoes, laser tag, water balloons, blow darts, guns, kites, crafts etc.. that could involve anyone in mass.

This past spring I rode to Wymann Park to play baseball. This was one of the First meetings and the varied group of people playing was very interesting. Down the in the valley were the Dog Park is I saw several people I knew, some I didn’t and many young kids, probably only about 20 people in total trying to figure out who was up to bat. The team was comprised of people from different regions, different schools, backgrounds, class and ideals. The younger kids were practicing hitting. They came to the park to play and were drawn in and joined the game. The games are non-competitive need to be because of the range of abilities. I wasn’t sure how everyone new each other but was satisfied with Balimore was big enough for me to not understand the connection but small enough that people could all know and enjoy about the same activity. There were two other MICA students there that joined the club because they saw the newsfeed pop up on Facebook that someone they knew had joined, but came without knowing anyone. Fun club had sent out an event message to come to Wymann park to play baseball and any one to show up and come play. The events were constantly changing the people who came based on the interest they had in the activities and when and where it was held with a few that were always there. One on the most interesting attentants, was a business man in Fells Point that was looking up Clubs in Baltimore on Facebook to get himself involved in the city. He been transferred to Baltimore for work and didn’t have any connections to his new city. He came and met new people and talked about where he was from, why he is in Baltimore now. Not much came from it there was not much in common, but he was a nice guy that came and had a good time. I am optimistic future events, will have the same sort of result.

I wondered if I could consider online clubs as a weapon of inclusion. Clubs are often more exclusionary and to become a member of a club, someone needs a connection to a member already part of it. The privilege, distinction needed, and a fee attached to them in order to join make them exclusive and intimidating. Open clubs on the Social networks on the internet, like Facebook have don’t have these regulations. To become a member, all there is to do is push join. Clubs can be formed and promoted by anyone. People with common interests and meet in, or in around the city.

The reason I consider “Open Clubs” a weapon of exlusion because they can bring people together in the city physically, it creates an outlet and opportunity for those that maybe have a limited daily path and not much room for exploration of the city to meet new people. Because of the openness of information shared on the internet people stumble upon clubs by chance online. In many instances this open information on Facebook and Online Networks are not ways to open up a city. Users spend countless hours getting lost in the expansive paths of the internet clicking from one thing to the next navigating themselves in a virtual realm. It lacks physical constant and separates the user from real interaction. All the information about a person can be obtained just by browsing his/her profile. There is no real physical space on the internet. There is no possibility to really connect with someone in the internet through bumping into to them. You cant get to know your city except maybe on street view of google maps. It is not like being able to walk down a street and start a conversation by someone you accidently brush against. But the meetings of these clubs makes online a source for real interactions to exist away from the internet. These interactions and activities can draw people in public places also.

The restructuring of the internet caused by “Open Club” in a social network is the perfect weapon of inclusion. Through events and clubs brings, online social networks allow people to come together with little effort on an organizers part, and is a passive way to talk to many people at once. This can be very effective to get people together by taking no effort at all. It creates a rhizome effect in which people are affiliated with other people through other people to create diverse experiences in the city.

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