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By : Hans Mommaas and Arie Romein

The debate on the possible influence of ICT on leisure and home started two decades ago with the concept of the electronic cottage. Current reality reveals not just a linear impact of technology on leisure and home, but, instead, a complex interplay of recursive relations. In an attempt to come to grips with this complexity, this contribution examines three in- and outdoor domains. Some empirical findings are presented here by way of illustration, primarily from the Dutch context, but the conclusions are fairly hypothetical. Indoors, electronic multi-sensorial “infocommutainment” systems will supply the home with an abundance of multi-functional settings for leisure. These spots are open to varying lifestyles of different household members and no longer fully dictate the conventional form of the dwelling in a functional way. The effect will be a socialised home, more adjusted to the “pure” leisure preferences of its members. The next question is: will ICT will cause us to stay home, cocoon us and bring the world of leisure indoors through our “infocommutainment” systems, thus resulting in a cultural and social “deflation” of public space? The opposite hypothesis is that we travel through virtual space by using this multi-sensorial system as a first, preparatory stage for mobility in physical public space. Data from the Netherlands suggests that we have the best of both worlds. Finally, it is improbable that ICT and the leisure-mediated increase in the diversity of the demand for residential environments is being fully materialised. These conclusions mitigate what is often hypothesised as the de-differentiating, anything-anywhere-anytime effects of ICT.

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