A vocabulary to discuss the urban digital city

Julie Årving
Dec 11, 2018 · 3 min read
photo: Anne Valeur

Words can become abstract. People might interpret them differently, and so do we. Discussion about the digital city often becomes about technology and the “smart city”, and we wish to broaden the vocabulary. This list is meant to help you understand how we as designers talk about inclusiveness and the digital city. Our aim with the manifesto is to create constructive discussion and therefore it is good to start with a common ground.


Collective experiences

Experiences shared by two people or more at the same time or over time, in the physical or digital space. Interactions between people is something designers often work with in service and interaction design.



When we talk about democratic values in this context we mean services or experiences where people are treated equally, have a possibility to contribute and a transparency in how data is being used.

Digital city

By “the digital city” we mean the development of digital products and services that are shaping how we use the city and how we treat each others as citizens.


Dugnad is a Norwegian term for voluntary work done together with other people. It’s a core phenomenon for Norwegians and the word was voted as the Norwegian word of the year 2004 in the TV programme «Typisk Norsk» (“Typical Norwegian”). Participation in a dugnad is often followed by a common meal, served by the host.



Familiar strangers

This is a term from sociology. A familiar stranger is somebody you know of by regularly seeing them in a public place, like a café or a bus stop. In these encounters you don’t interact, but if you meet outside of the usual place, the threshold to interact is very low. A digital familiar stranger is typically someone you follow on Instagram that you still haven’t met in real life.



Inclusiveness is a particularly tricky word. For us it means that you feel a sense of belonging, that you are allowed to contribute and be heard. Feeling included often means being part of a collective. And collective experiences are important for democracy.


Interactions happen as two or more objects/people have an effect upon one another. The encounter has to be reciprocal. It can be a moment where you smile to somebody, and they smile back. Using your mobile phone consists of many micro-interactions.



A manifesto is a declaration of policy and aims from a person or group to the public.

In this context our manifesto also works as a set of values and design principles that has guided us throughout.


Smart city

An urban area that incorporates information and communication technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services. Smart city has become a buzzword when talking about how technology should be used to makes our lives better. When introducing the term “Inclusive Digital City” we challenge the efficiency and productivity focus of the smart city.

Social recruitment

Recruiting people to do volunteering through a social event, creating a feeling of community before people sign up. This term comes from the example about volunteering.

Social sustainability

A process for creating sustainable, successful places that promote wellbeing, by understanding what people need from the places they live and work. Social sustainability combines design of the physical realm with design of the social world — infrastructure to support social and cultural life, systems for citizen engagement and space for people and places to evolve.”



The Nordic model

A term referring to the welfare societies with a high degree of trust, equality and social cohesion in the Nordic Countries.


The development and planning of cities and towns. Many architects, planners, geographers, and sociologists investigate the way people live in densely populated urban areas. Urban planning takes a long time, and has to look at the big picture of how a city should work. We believe design has an important role in urbanism because of the human-centered approach and the ability to prototype experiences quickly.

Unpaid work by people who freely offers to take part in a volunteer organization/perform volunteer tasks. The motivation of volunteering is often social and to feel valuable in the society. Volunteering is an important part of society in the Nordic countries.


How can we promote a socially and culturally inclusive city through digital services?

Julie Årving

Written by


How can we promote a socially and culturally inclusive city through digital services?

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade