This paper proposes to understand the globalizing of online Social Network Sites (SNS) through the spatial metaphor of global parks. It builds upon a commonly accepted ideation of the city as socially-constructed and that which has been harnessed to understand the spatiality of the Internet. Over the decades we have learnt to conceptualize the Internet with the aid of metaphors, including that of the city to grasp its intricate information highways, networks and connectivity, the underlying logic that dictates movement within these spaces and nodes of concentrated social action. By equating the Internet to the city, we are compelled to extend our imagination by applying our understandings of urban planning and geography to current vital conversations on the shaping of Internet spaces. The persistence of this parallel has matured our thinking significantly from the utopic notion of the web as a frontier of limitless and depoliticized space to a more architected and socio-economic phenomenon of a propertied and contextual digital place. Given that the city has been a useful analogy for the Internet to confront its directionality and political intent in design and usage, this paper takes this parallel further, delving into a segment of the Internet that is currently in the midst of tremendous speculation- that of Social Network Sites (SNS) and its seemingly open, democratic, social and inclusive nature. If we narrow our attention to a domain of the city that is imbued with a similar rhetoric of being open, social and leisurely, we find ourselves in the presence of urban parks. By drawing this linkage, we become aware of the deeply historical and transnational character of public leisure spaces. This paper takes this dialogue further by investigating the globalization of the Internet and that of social network sites. This argument uses the metaphorical parallel of the city = Internet as a starting point and capitalizes on the rich literature surrounding the globalization of the cityscape or what is popularly referred to as the global city; these are spaces that serve as a fulcrum for the industrial, the creative, the leisurely, and the privileged as well as the temporal laboring and migrant class. This effort allows us to constructively borrow from the field of urban studies and extend important debates surrounding globalization of the material domain to its virtual counterpart- the Internet and its social network sites to better confront the political, socio-cultural and economic dimensions of globalization and its online/offline intermediations.

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ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Department of Media and Communication

Arora, P. (2013). Global cities: Global parks: Globalizing of digital leisure networks.. ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture. Retrieved from