Neighborhood Planning of Technology: Physical Meets Digital City from the Bottom-Up with Aging Payphones


  • Benjamin Stokes UC Berkeley School of Information
  • François Bar University of Southern California
  • Karl Baumann University of Southern California
  • Ben Caldwell KAOS Networks and Art Studio



Neighborhood, planning, payphone, phonebooth, repurposing, appropriation, redesign, process, urban planning, participatory design, participatory planning, civic engagement


What does it mean to “plan” a technology?  Designs with a footprint in public space are important hybrids, including wired bus stops and rebuilt payphones.  Our goal is to shift from designing technology for a neighborhood by planning technology as part of the neighborhood.  Aging phone booths were purchased in LA’s historic Leimert Park.  For six months, residents joined with technologists to tackle a planning issue (gentrification).  We developed a method of “deep engagement” to sustain grassroots planning in socio-technical systems, especially around the digital divide.  The method resists “solving” the payphone problem, and instead theorizes engagement as four social scaffolds to bring technology literacy into the planning process.

Author Biographies

Benjamin Stokes, UC Berkeley School of Information

Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Berkeley School of Information

François Bar, University of Southern California

Associate Professor of Communication

Karl Baumann, University of Southern California

Phd Student

Ben Caldwell, KAOS Networks and Art Studio

Director of KAOS Networks