What Happens When Digital Cities Are Abandoned? Exploring the pristine ruins of Second Life and other online spaces


I stand at the junction of several dusty, well-traveled roads. Passersby hurry through, chattering and laughing as they make their way from the city looming in the distance to the north, along the paths to the southeast, which branch out as the land grows less dense, winding through lakes and forests.

I haven’t been here in years, but it’s as familiar to me as if I’d been away only a few weeks. There are no familiar faces, and no one recognizes me. By memory, I make my way along the winding road and soon end up in a clearing by a lake. Trees bend over the water, dragging their tendrils across its mirrored surface. Birds chirp contentedly.

This is it; I’m home.

Sort of.

That’s because, in this case, “home” is actually “grove,” as in “a small wood.” It’s a term used in the text-adventure game I am currently playing…

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Private to Public: City Gardens of Constantinople and the Continuity of their Role in Socialization

City and Agriculture

It is impossible to know the entire history of a place because all we know is what has stood the test of time. More frustrating than that is what has stood the test of time has been wrapped, warped, and twisted by the perceptions, opinions and sometimes manipulation of history by its story tellers. This idea was eloquently shared in Raymond Williams’ book, The Country and the City, when he said, “a memory of a childhood can be said, persuasively, to have some permanent significance,” (Williams, 12). There exists a constant challenge for historians to see passed this “problem of perspective,” to render the truest core of the past.

But that isn’t exactly what I am doing here.

Constructing a historical narrative about the gardens of Constantinople is in many ways an open-ended question because even the sources from which we have chosen to examine admit there is far more…

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Tip of the Week: USGS historical topo maps

History Tech

Maps are so cool. Historical maps are way more cooler. And online historical maps are even way more cooler. (I like saying way more cooler cause it makes me feel like a rebel.)

A couple of weeks ago on the helpful GoogleMapsMania site, I ran across a way cool tool created by the United States Geological Survey. This is the group that, among other things, is responsible for creating topographic maps.

The cool tool that the USGS has created is called USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer.

Basically, you do a map search with a Google Maps-like interface, click on a specific place on the resulting map, and the Historical Topographic Map Explorer will provide a timeline with topo maps from the past.

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London Gentrification – Deptford Job Centre

Sociology of Space

In 2010 the job centre in Deptford, the area of London i used to live, was closed due to government cut backs.

Though campaigners fought to save it,  the building has now been bought privately and run as a bar, but has caused recent controversy by naming it ‘The Job Centre’.

Both critics and local residents have been angered by this who see this as part of a wider trend of gentrification in the area as those from a higher socio-economic move to this part of the city.

The term ‘Ironic Gentrification’ has been used by some, citing the way that the provocative naming of the bar mocks the people that once used the space.

Read an article about it in The Guardian here:


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Africa’s Urban Revolution

Global Real Estate

The African Centre for Cities’ (ACC) new collection of essays Africa’s Urban Revolution (Zed Books) proposes a number of advances to both the policy and theory of Africa’s urbanisation experience in issues such as decentralisation, food security and armed conflict as the first part of this review learnt.

Two further chapters address an empirical problem that has always grated with economic geographers and which has very deep implications for all of the regulatory issues raised in the previous instalment. The massive urbanisation experienced in Western Europe, North America and East Asia as each of these regions underwent industrialisation in past centuries has cemented in place the theory that urbanisation is caused essentially by economic growth, that “growth begets urbanisation”. A major exception has been Sub-Saharan Africa, especially during the 1980s and 1990s, during which World Bank economists Marianne Fay and Charlotte Opal observed that “urbanisation continues even during periods of…

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The Flâneur, by Edmund White

Vulpes Libris

9781582342122This is an elegant little book, first published over ten years ago in a series from Bloomsbury called The Writer And The City “… an occasional series in which some of the finest writers of our time reveal the secrets of the city they know best.” As I love Paris, but never could aspire to put the considerable work in to become any sort of a flâneur myself, I was delighted when a friend passed this book on to me. I knew I would be in good hands.

It seems I’ve caught the zeitgeist – no sooner had I taken this book on holiday, but flânerie kept popping up – most recently in Laurie Taylor’s entertaining Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed. Far from being a lightweight dilettante, the flâneur is someone who absorbs the experience of the city in a peculiarly intense way, and, if we are lucky, shares the…

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