PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (1): 86-95.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.01.008

• Special Column: Theories and Methods of Behavioral Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Human spatiotemporal behavior in the digital society: Logic change and research prospects

XIAO Zuopeng1,2()   

  1. 1. Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen 518038, Guangdong, China
    2. Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Urban Planning and Decision Simulation, Shenzhen 518038, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2021-09-08 Revised:2021-12-04 Online:2022-01-28 Published:2022-03-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801151);Natural Science Foundation of Shenzhen City(JCYJ20190806144618382)


The digital revolution produced by digital technology progression has been significantly changing the urban economy, society, and spatial systems. A number of new digital behaviors, including e-shopping, riding-hailing, and instant delivery, have increasingly emerged in urban everyday life. Spatiotemporal behavior studies, in particular behavior geography and time geography, have intensively investigated these new behavior phenomena. However, there is still great potential to develop new frameworks for understanding the behavioral changes in a digital society. This framework should go beyond the current dichotomy of frameworks that divides all behaviors into those with or without the engagement of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) and further study how these ICT-enabled activities combine with physical activities. With insights on the whole course of digital behaviors and their outcomes, this study aimed to incorporate the theory of environmental affordance and dynamic interaction to look at how the digital society changes the traditional constraint-centered paradigm. This article summarized these changes in three aspects and categorized them into three kinds of "augment effects". First, the information provision for decision making evolves from static to dynamic and real-time. It changes the Information asymmetry between human and the environment reality, and creates flexibilities for adjusting behaviors at any time and in any locations. Second, the digial society has facilitated a number of the behaviors fulfilled by multiple agents rather than solely replying on the actor him- or herself. It creates a mechanism by which a number of behaviors could be outsourced and entrusted to others. It also creates huge abilities for individuals to make daily activitiy arrangements. Third, the space and time where the behaviors could happen have been enlarged. It suggests that the place where activities rarely happened without Internet enagement would be a site that digital behaviors could access. It creates the diversity of activities through time. These three augment effects could be attributed to the engagement of digital platforms. The digital platform is increasingly attracting the facilities and services to be presented online. The agglomeration benefits created by one-stop effects further attract the infux of end users. The two-side network effects render the platform the role of intermediator and infracture in the interaction between human behavior and the environment. It empowers the users to access, acquire, and use the resources and opportunities affiliated with any platform. Responding to these changes, this article suggests that temporal and spatial behavior research needs to increase the spatial resolution of behavior research and analyze the dynamics of the situation. It is essential to explore the scene design that supports the realization of behaviors. One argument of this research is to transform accessibility planning to availability planning and improve the spatial-temporal availability of social resources and opportunies. To achieve this transformation, it is necessary to study how to organize spatial planning by time, and improve the responsiveness to temporal and spatial behaviors in the digital society.

Key words: digital society, temporal and spatial behavior, logical reconstruction, temporal and spatial context, scene, availability