The importance of social interaction in the co-working spaces of Boston USA and London UK.
Jackson, L. (2017). The importance of social interaction in the co-working spaces of Boston USA and London UK. European Media Managers Association Conference. Ghent, Belgium 10 - 12 May 2017 London South Bank University.
As part of a three-year study looking at selected high technology clusters in North America and Europe (Glowacki and Jackson, 2015-18) the author asks why community is arguably the most significant element of the co-working spaces of Boston/Cambridge (USA) and London (UK). Co-working spaces are sites of carefully-engineered cultural and knowledge production; commercially-oriented and adaptive shared office spaces where small to medium-sized businesses are encouraged to incubate services and products. They are mostly located in city centres, often having good access to fast internet and travel services, cafes, restaurants, and – sometimes – associated living space. The growth of co-working practices evidences a shift from the essentially Fordist model of the pure broadcast era typified by large studios and production crews to undertake more adaptive – leaner – project-based inter-disciplinary working. From a cultural perspective the use and understanding of coding and web-based media delivered via computer networks in co-working spaces may provide a more neutral space than the departmental structures of traditional media. Ideation fuelled by the availability of skilled creative and technicians who may be using complementary technology and aesthetics is more likely to stimulate the generation of new forms of media (Manovitch, 2013). The paper will not consider social media interactions but will consider the range of face-to-face interactions enabled by the organisation of the co-working spaces. We will also be considering the social ecosystem surrounding co-working spaces that may include meet ups, accelerator programmes, training courses, hackathons, and ‘makes’ (rapid prototyping sessions). The paper will be informed by social network theory (Van Dijck, 2012; Vitale, 2014,) that foregrounds relational perspectives and non-linear systems in the digital realm, mirrored in the face to face swarming of digital creatives (Gloor, 2006; Miller, 2010) in order to effect leaner working (Ries, 2011; Radjou and Prabhu, 2016). It is argued that co-working spaces and associated accelerator initiatives aim to amplify knowledge exchange and the development of trust relationships; critical factors for adaptive project-oriented production systems. Co-working spaces offer not merely flexible space but also a carefully constructed social infrastructure. Managers of such spaces organise – for example - Monday Bagel breakfasts, Friday beer and pizza; training, mentoring and peer-review opportunities; and lastly activities to enhance spiritual and physical wellbeing such as yoga and meditation sessions. This is a significantly different working environment from that of traditional media. The co-working formula is becoming so successful that it is rapidly being franchised. The Cambridge Innovation Exchange (CIC) in Boston, USA is opening co-working spaces in several European locations. There are Google Campus centers in several of the fastest-expanding high technology city clusters in North America and Europe. Each of the Google Campuses are autonomous, yet they track visitors and activity globally through the scanning of entry passes that the guest retains when they leave. Boston and London are the locations through which the phenomenon of co-working is examined. The paper will provide a rounded mixed methods deconstruction of typical co-working spaces in these two city locations including their social structure, design, organisation and analysis of economic and cultural factors. Interviews with co-workers and leaders and managers of spaces and social groups will be augmented by fieldwork: observations of meet ups, social events, and analysis of visual media such as photographs, brochures, and floor plans. The study will interest media producers and scholars, and it aims to particularly raise awareness of emerging management, production, and cultural practices for the benefit of public service media. The Polish Science Fund financially supports the three-year project; it has additional support (in kind) from the European Broadcasting Union, and the interest of the Canadian and British Broadcasting Corporations.
|Keywords||Coworking; high technology; media clusters; clusters; sociability|
|Publisher||London South Bank University|
|Accepted author manuscript|
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
|12 May 2017|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||22 May 2017|
|Accepted||07 Apr 2017|
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