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Tweeting the city

In 2012, the School of Architecture + Planning conducted a series of real-time interactive forums on urban issues.
Image: Stephen Kennedy

On the third Thursday of every month from May through November of last year, SA+P’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) conducted a live online Twitter discussion on various topics related to cities, under the hashtag #citychat.

Like any other hashtag, #citychat is a way to organize a Twitter thread around a given idea, but #citychat is also a time-specific tag for convening a real-time interactive discussion. It’s described as something like a cocktail party with dozens of people carrying on several conversations at once; but on #citychat you can theoretically take part in all of the conversations simultaneously.

Most of the chats are structured with a series of questions from a moderator who acts as a combination party host / conversational border collie, shepherding the discussion in productive directions and helping draw attention to those who try but can’t seem to wedge themselves into the conversation.

The seven sessions so far have drawn participants from 72 cities in 19 countries, discussing such concerns as post-disaster planning; transforming public space; creating an equity-driven model for economic growth; and, one of the most popular, the relationship between religion and cities.

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