The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 160

Beyond connectivity: The impacts of social media in urban development in Puerto Ayora, Ecuador


15 December 2013

Author: Laura Pinzon

Publication Date: December 2013

ISSN: 1474-3280

New communication technologies and digital platforms have evolved quickly and extended considerably during the last 20 years. Beyond the recognised significance of the Internet in connecting people’s interests on a global scale, this paper explores the effects of social media at a local level, in terms of the interaction between the people and their transforming cities, and between citizens and planning authorities. In attempting to unpack these interactions, this paper analyses how social media – as a tool for collective organisation, sharing and producing information – affects the power relationships around the building of cities.

Factors like the social features of new technologies, the tensions between the global and local implications of digital connectivity, the different ways social movements support their actions through social media, and the limitations and challenges of new ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) are analysed to increase our understanding of the potential of social media in urban development. In the final chapter, the example of Puerto Ayora – the Galapagos Islands, the paper analyses some situations where the use of social media has supported social initiatives in achieving their goals. This study suggests that a timely analysis of what is happening, in the digital – as distinct from the physical – spaces where people discuss the city is needed to broaden urban theories and ensure more holistic analysis of what is actually happening.


Download this paper.