First and foremost, I thank the Urban Alphabets workshop participants who have given their time and ideas, thereby contributing the material analyzed in this work. I am also thankful to everyone who has downloaded the app, and expressed interest in the project during presentations, conferences, screenings, or in any other way. A special thanks goes to the workshop translators in St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Sao Paulo, who have made the communication with participants much easier and allowed for deeper insights.

Secondly, I am thankful to Saurabh Pokhrel, who developed the Android version of Urban Alphabets and was very patient and dedicated when fixing technical bugs related to the variety of Android devices.

Thirdly, I am grateful to the Connecting Cities Network, all its curators, partners, event organizers, promoters, volunteers and fellow artists without which the scope of this work would have been much more limited. I am especially thankful for the support of Minna Tarkka, who has not only helped to find my way through the CCN “labyrinth” but has, together with Kaisa Kukkonen, also essentially contributed to the Avek funding application.

The Urban Alphabets project received funding from Avek/DigiDemo, Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and an Aalto ARTS scholarship, which I appreciate greatly. Especially DigiDemo enabled me to concentrate onto the Urban Alphabets project and the accompanying research fully during 2014.

I am deeply thankful to Medialab Helsinki and everyone associated with it. When I came here in 2010 I was an architecture student thinking broader than many of my fellow students but still fixed on architecture and urban design. Today, almost 5 years later, I do not define myself in a single category any longer: I am an artist, designer, programmer, researcher, and an urban life enthusiast. Here I have understood that switching between roles does not undermine professionalism. I especially thank Nuno Correia, my thesis supervisor, teacher and friend, in whose course the first prototype of Urban Alphabets was developed, who encouraged me to pursue my path, and who helped me to stay on track in the phase of writing, especially concerning the methodology part.

I am furthermore thankful to all my friends and family members, who often unknowingly contributed thoughts and points of discussion relevant for my research work, who helped me with design or by proofreading this work, who encouraged me to follow my instincts and who provided a save place to return to during the times full of travels in 2014. Instead of many I want to mention two: Leyla Nasib has given feedback on design and usability of the app, promoted the project herself, proofread the last chapter of this work and calmed me down in times of worries about the growing scope of the project. Barbara Rebolledo has given important feedback on the visualizations and, together with Hanna Rantala, been a source of motivation to continue in different phases of this project and the final writing.

Lastly but most wholeheartedly, I am grateful to my grandmother Thea Richter, who would be proud to hold the printed version of this thesis in her hands, though she would not understand a single sentence.

>> next: chapter I: Introduction