Aetherspheres: spatial sensitivity and self awareness in food and social media prosuming practices
The focal point of this thesis is on whether and how digital practices can challenge and reintroduce values and concepts related to self-awareness and spatial sensitivity. It uses prosuming practices of food and social media as a research and learning tool. Prosumption is a compound word formed by joining the words production and consumption and, in brief, it means producing for one’s own consumption. This study is conducted in the area of digital media and architecture. The main architectural interest lies in the way that place (and notions related to the private and public spheres) is perceived by its users and how this experience can be affected by prosuming social media platforms every day. In particular, this study explores if and how digital media, especially the prosuming of social media content, alters preestablished issues related to spatial sensitivity. A thorough critical examination of the prevailing views on these topics, as well as their evolution in time, is described. The present status of the matters studied is approached by a literature review and an empirical study using mainly phenomenological methods of approach. Food prosuming is explored first and the conclusions reached, related to self awareness and spatial sensitivity, are then further tested and attempts are then made to apply these to social media content prosuming. The research methods used involved in-depth interviews with 35 participants over a period of two years. Individuals who covered a spectrum of different ages, social groups and professional categories were selected for interview. Data relating to the documentation of prosuming practices of the participants, questionnaires, and personal reflections through blogging and social media practices were recorded. Furthermore, one intervention of public prosuming activity was also investigated. As it was found in food prosumerism, there is a significant difference if practiced occasionally and when practiced in the frame of habitual everydayness. This differentiation can be related to and affect issues such as privacy and the personal and social spheres. It was also found that while casual prosuming in the digital domain of social media involves aspects and values of the public domain, everydayness transforms these digital prosuming practices into familiar practices as they are habituated in the private domain. Schematically, this can be represented as: Public → Casual → Private. Everyday digital prosumerism cultivates and incorporates issues of the private domain, whereas by definition it should incorporate issues of the social domain. This is what in this thesis is referred to as issues of the public-private domain. This remark, though, affects the essence of spatial sensitivity, the understanding of the private and the social sphere and the values and tendencies involved. Our findings suggest that, in most cases of food prosuming, when sharing, the host aims to instil a specific mood for the event, to be responsible for the setting, the ambience, the atmosphere of the sharing experience with the guests and the facilitation of sharing. In the digital domain, the mood and ambience of the sharing setting might follow the same pattern as is facilitated by the host, but at the same time the process of sharing sets the mood in an accelerated process; it is co-created, continued or totally altered by the public private sphere. Prosumerism as explored so far is correlated positively to issues of selfactualization and personal wellbeing (Xie, Troye and Bagozzi, 2008). Do digital prosuming practices share the same qualities? Personal atmospheres today, or what we call in this thesis aetherspheres, incorporate values and issues cultivated and fed by the fused atmosphere of the physical and the digital domain, forming a new ethos of prosumerism and crafting new norms.