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Imagining Real Places with Virtual Spaces

Imagining Real Places with Virtual Spaces

Professor Eric Gordon and Berkman Fellow Gene Koo

Tuesday, August 19, 12:30PM
Berkman Center Conference Room

Hub2 gives local neighborhoods a more powerful voice in urban planning and public design. Residents engage in a process that employs 3D virtual tools and problem-solving techniques to articulate a common vision reflecting the participants' values. Goals of Hub2 include strengthening civic engagement with public spaces, involving population segments traditionally left out of development planning, and providing a constructive and productive community input process for public design.

In this presentation, Professor Eric Gordon (Emerson College) and Gene Koo (Berkman), together with the staff of Hub2, described Hub2's progress and challenges in working this summer with the North Allston neighborhood to participate in the design of Honan Library Park, which Harvard University is redeveloping as part of its larger Allston project. Joining this presentation were be the youth interpreters who have helped less technologically adept neighbors access the Hub2 technology and who in turn have learned to build and code in Second Life as well as understand urban planning.

About Eric

Eric Gordon is a scholar of new media, with a special interest in place-based digital communities, social networking, and virtual environments. He has recently published articles in Space and Culture, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Information, Communication and Society. He edited a special issue of Space and Culture on the topic of "The Geography of Virtual Worlds," exploring the ideas of how location matters even in the most virtual of conditions. And he is working on two book projects: The Possessive Spectator: Media and the American City (University of Minnesota Press) and Location Matters: Maps, Networks, and the Evolving Significance of the Local (Blackwell). He is the co-director of Hub2 ( - an organization devoted to using virtual technology to engage people in the community planning process around urban developments. And he is the principal investigator of the The Digital Lyceum (, an NEH funded project that seeks to build systems and practices around using and preserving digital backchannels for live events.

About Gene

Gene Koo focuses on emerging methods of education in a digitally networked world. In collaboration with the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, he is developing a commons where law professors can collaboratively create teaching materials. He also studies the intersection of video games and moral development.

Gene helped found  Legal Aid University, which provides training and professional development to poverty lawyers across the nation. Prior to his appointment at the Berkman Center, Gene worked at Mass. Law Reform Institute, where he coordinated a knowledge management website for the state (, helped develop a portal to educate Massachusetts residents on their legal rights (, and advised on technical and practical implementation of a statewide case management system. He is also involved with efforts across several law schools to use virtual environments for legal instruction (CyberOne, State of Play Academy).

Gene graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2002, where he wrote his final paper on the effectiveness of online discussion systems as a complement to traditional law school classes. He graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1997 with a concentration in Social Studies.


Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Courses 01

Hub2 Project - Fall 2007

By talking to people in communities, observing how spaces are currently used, and using new technologies to aid in the process of imagining how spaces could be used, students will…