The City as a GIF

Last week I attended the PIA QLD Conference on the Gold Coast and presented a talk titled ‘The City as a GIF: Where Every Second Counts‘.

In so many places around the world, there’s a growing convergence of digital tech in physical space. It’s something that technology professionals are doing well, developing products that refer to city building in one way or another, but as Planners we are more cautious and slow on the uptake.

The Talk also looked at the viral nature of cultural products in an increasingly globalised world. I asked the question – what makes something go viral and is that relevant to planning? The answer is yes. It’s a major opportunity to leverage off global trends and improve our cities for the better. In a world saturated with ideas there is a growing emphasis on creativity and design thinking. This is where strategic planning and strong vision can add uniqueness to a place.

In addition, is it weird to say Miley Cyrus inspired the talk too? Cyrus’ controversial twerking with Robin Thicke was not only consumed through the traditional use of ‘still image’ but it became one of the biggest GIFs of the year (if not of all time). By doing so, the humble GIF extended media coverage for Cyrus beyond the MTV event and kept her single in the charts (and the world talking) for weeks.

The traditional news cycle, that is the time that passes between one edition and the follow up edition, is now only limited by the amount of information available. Today news is 24hrs. It’s constant and presents a real opportunity for Planners to connect and engage with different audience groups even while we’re sleeping.

So what’s all this got to do with placemaking and cities?

A GIF captures a moment and our cities are made of moments. If a picture tells us a thousand words what is it that a GIF can tell us?

As placemakers we need to consider these moments in how we approach design in the city. By doing so, we can reframe problems and explore opportunities otherwise blocked by traditional perspectives.

Download my full presentation here and if you have any questions please get in touch.

The City as a GIF John O'Callaghan QLD PIA Conference