Every detail of place is so susceptible to variant interpretation. The lane wide enough for horse traffic is too narrow for cars…
…and then becomes the charming, walkable street as the car begins to fade away. Where is the equation for that?
The progressive tenement becomes shameful slum in time, & later still prime real estate. Show me the algorithm that says how many to build.
[new york, london]
intro’d to Adam when he posted this in response to Howard’s call out on fb for thinking about wearables like google glass.. and permissions/et al to record..
head up display fitting with watch – ness
– – – – –
“Adam Greenfield is intense, engaged, intelligent and caring. I pay attention to him. I counsel you to do the same.” —HOWARD RHEINGOLD, AUTHOR, SMART MOBS: THE NEXT SOCIAL REVOLUTION
then – after following him.. fell upon these tweets:
I’m just so skeptical of the idea that there ever could be a “science” of cities — of anything that matters about cities, anyway.
oct 2013 interview:
14 min.. algorithms can’t detect irony/sarcasm.. everything that human beings get as a matter of course,, the meta data, the info around the info, that lets us know how to interpret it.. if you strip that away – what you have is something that is ..it’s autistic.. doesn’t acknowledge full range of emotional expression and cannot respond to that.. autistic as – disorder of activity
missing from these visions of smart cities.. short answer – history – takes years for ways of doing/being to embed
what’s missing is the informal sector.. all the practices that people use to make life doable.. that fall between the cracks.. fly under the radar… if you have a city w/o informal activity – you don’t have a city at all..
formal actions aren’t flexible enough – for what gives value and meaning to our days..
it’s this tone deafness in the way the world really work.. that we see in just about every document making the argument for smart cities
design for networked cities and citizens… (tag line for urbanscale)
start with what people feel that they need..
talk jan 2013:
Urban Age Electric City: Use and misuse of smart technology in cities
purpose of city: watchfulness from above..
smart cities deployed for a managerial purpose.. rather than needs of people
via occupy sandy: the people themselves in a horizontal leaderless organization are able to make better uses of informational resources than either fema or the accredited charity – ie: red cross
minimizing disruptions –> limiting the practice of democracy on the streets
real problem w/smart city has nothing to do with cities.. notion is an abstract terrain for the operations of market enterprises…
i don’t believe that cities have goals..
Ellen Langer ness – would lead to mindlessness
occupant support and convenient systems..? the mindset we are bringing to these places
Jane Jacobs – development of spontaneous order from below (rather than to curb disruption which really means withholding democracy) – built up over time from an infinity of small acts
Anthony Townsend – 5 technological preconditions for this:
1. broadband connectivity; 2. cheap personal devices; 3. commitment to open municipal data; 4. cheap accessible public interfaces 5. robust clouding infrastructure
this city. where ever this city happens to be – with all of its texture…
we can do better.
Where 2012, Adam Greenfield, “Ultramapping: The New Geospatial Awareness”
We are collectively experiencing the most significant single evolution in mapping since someone first scratched plans on papyrus. One relatively recent and very simple intervention, made possible by the lamination together of three or four different kinds of technology, has completely changed what a map is, what it means, what we can do with it.
It’s this: that for the very first time in human history, our maps tell us where we are on them.
5 min – changes the use/meaning of a map from something like navigation toward something like real time decision support.
kevin lynch – image of the city 1960
we’re moving through the map not the territory.. we’ve become the blue dot. ..
to say that we’re even here anymore begins to become subject to question..
mark wiser – the most profound technologies are those that disappear
with ultra mapping.. and w/how readily this radical change has slipped beneath the surface of our daily awareness.. that the most profound cultural shifts might be the ones that escape notice entirely
you are here.. now unfolding in all kinds of dimensions..
– – –
In the 2006 and 2007 academic years, with Kevin Slavin of New York design practice area/code, he co-taught a class at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program called Urban Computing. In the following academic year this class was renamed Urban Experience in the Network Age and Greenfield taught it alone.
published 2006: 2013:
books link to amazon
book (pamphlet) links to amazon
I believe that we need to take responsibility for the language we choose to describe and discuss the work we do, and, all too often, it is language that masks the body of assumptions we bring to a given task.
ch 1: the smart city is built in generic space
Gilles Deleuze characterized as “any-space-whatever”: unconditioned, at degree zero, offering infinite potential for interconnection. any-space-whatever is uninflected, unmarked by history. there’s no existing tendency or directionality associated with it. formally and legally, it is a blank state.
prospect ish. yet in need of old mixed in.. Jane on eclectic ness.
As Deleuze defines it, any-space-whatever is never important for any quality of its own but only for the connections it facilitates or brings into being.
ch 2: .. generic time
.. these sites (smart cities) live perpetually in what researchers Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish call the “proximate future”: a time that’s always just around the corner – n fact, so close as to be practically inevitable – but never quite here yet.
using language that stages their proposals in “a future infinitely postponed.. affords advocates of the smart city the luxury of avoiding having to deal with the problematic here and now. they don’t have to reckon with the messy accumulations of history, with existing neighborhoods..
… in the just-so stories we’re told about the smart city, the technology of everyday life advance, but everything else somehow magically remains the same. from family size and structure to work arrangements to conception of the self, …
.. the smart city is something that can and will always be redefined as its enthusiasts deem necessary, and so remain forever just beyond our reach.
ch 3: … generic tech
.. not one of the technological interventions we encounter in these visions is autonomous.
autonomous – having self-government
Reasons like these are precisely why the canonical smart city almost has to be staged in any-space-whatever; only by proposing to install generic technologies on generic landscapes in a generic future can advocates avoid running afoul of the knotty complexities that crop up immediately any time actual technologies are deployed in existing places.
ch 4: smart city pretends to an objectivity, a unity and a perfect knowledge that are nowhere achievable, even in principle
..implicitly holds that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a technical system, without bias or distortion.
Collectively, we’ve known since Heisenberg that to observe the behavior of a system is to intervene in it. Even in principle, there is no way to stand outside a system and take a snapshot of it as it existed at time T.
what if information crucial to the formulation of sound civic policy is somehow absent .. resides in the space between them… (not measurable)
(what if) actors whose performance is subject to measurement may consciously adapt their behavior to produce metrics favorable to them in one way or another.
.. the data is the data… the mystification of “the data” goes unremarked upon and unchallenged…
A wavefront of gentrification can open up exciting new opportunities for young homesteaders, small retailers and craft producers, but tends to displace the very people who’d given a neighborhood its character and identity.
perhaps will sound “crazy dame” ish… [as well as fitting with – She did not have a college degree in urban planning, and was also criticized for being unscholarly and imprecise. –Jane ].. but that’s ok .. parsing it out..
right before the gentrification reference.. Adam writes:
As individuals and communities, the people who live in them hold to multiple competing and equally valid conceptions of the good, and it’s impossible to fully satisfy all of them at the same time.
while i agree with all the fallacy of thinking the solution is algorithmic… and probably even agree with this sentence above .. ignorantly (because i haven’t yet finished the book, et al) going to wonder aloud.. could it be that it is possible.. if we do dive into the complexity/uncertainty that is life.. acknowledge the not knowing ness.. and in so doing.. we redefine what satisfies.. have/need ness. as well as having a non-algorithmic dance of the human heart and tech…
Hierarchical organizations can be said to have goals, certainly, but not anything as heterogeneous in composition as a city, and most especially not a city in anything resembling a democratic society.
huge. the only goal i can imagine is along Yaacov‘s definition of democratic education. that we ask everyday.. what’s the goal. then every hour. then every minute. ness. that the goal is that the goal is ever emerging.. [so yeah – why call it goal.. no?]
..it’s in this depiction of a city as an entity with unitary goals that ti comes closest to self-parody.
ch 5: the smart city is built on a proprietary platform
what is at issue in all of these cases is the degree to which the party offering some technical product or service wishes to extend its users the rights to freely use, study, modify, improve and redistribute the system at hand, without requiring that they pay a licensing fee or seek the manufacturer’s specific approval.
need for open enough ness
ch 6: the smart city is overspecified
.. by proposing to install informatic systems relatively deeply in the urban fabric, such schemes fail to accommodate the need for ongoing, regular access, for repair or upgrade.
… appear not to have devoted any particular thought to how they might account for the evolution of the technologies upon which their value propositions rely.
for a body of thought that’s theoretically all about the benefits that accrue when networked information technology is deployed in our cities, in fact, it’s positively weird how rarely these visions invoke the one piece of networked information technology that citydwellers all over the planet already have ready to hand. there’s little need to invest in the comprehensive instrumentation of the urban fabric with sensors, device controllers or informational displays when people themselves are already equipped with something that can act in all these roles.
technologically (enough to start.. but no where near enough) and humanely (enough)
despite the vaguely trendy-seeming labels that orbit them (“flexi-block modular association”), nothing about the renderings suggests a capacity for adaptive reuse, organic change or growth.
.. the strict functional segregation of activity into designated, single-purpose districts is a hallmark of high=modernist urban planning,..
in both Chandigarh and Brasilia, the static contours of the formal city were soon overwhelmed by very significant processes of informal infill, the only way remaining for people constrained by these overspecified plans to respond to evolving demand.
infill: buildings constructed to occupy the space between existing ones
.. cities work best when they support a lively mix of uses, the threshold of commitment for any one activity remains low and people are reasonably free to pursue some objective wherever it seems to make the most sense to do so.
.. in fact, facilitated precisely by mobile networked devices, learning is increasingly likely to be something that people pursue wherever they happen to be.
indeed. back to a natural state/trust in learning – as a sign of being alive.
the problem with overspecification is simply that it leads to a curiously static conception of the future: once we get there, we stay there.
the city whose service infrastructure is locked into the technology of a given moment in time cannot readily adapt..
ch 7: the smart city is predicted on a discredited notion of seamlessness
Mark Weiser – intellectual father of ubiquitous computing..
in all cases, the language of seamlessness implies that the hassles of everyday life have been mitigated by the intervention of powerful technologies from whose complexity, in turn, the user has been carefully and deliberately shielded.
… seamlessly coordinating everything.” … as far as they are concerned, “achieving a seamless usage style: means “living unaware of the network.”)
but this sense of effortless ness comes at a price, which is that the behavior of a system offers users little insight into how it actually works. and this opacity leads to trouble when things break down – …obscuring the locus of control
sounds like how we have practiced foreign aide – perpetuating helplessness
unless some capacity for self-diagnosis is designed into this ensemble of articulated components, there’s no way for a user relying upon it to know just what has gone wrong, or where.
much of what is interesting and valuable in urban life happens precisely at the seams, at the hinges or interfaces between different states of being. these are the points at which we notice our surroundings, contend with the reality of other people and their needs and desires, and become most fully present and available.
..the unexamined importation into the urban context of goals and values more appropriate to consumer experiences winds up undercutting some of the primary ways in which cities generate value.
ch 8: the smart city is predicated on an inappropriate model of optimization
the emphasis placed on “optimization” in these accounts is a frank instance of semantic contamination, in which an idea endemic to the culture of business administration has effectively been copy-and-pasted into a realm where it has no place and makes no sense.
positioning efficiency as the only index of value available to us overlooks the many simple pleasures afforded by city life that would be utterly unimproved by any optimization, and might well be destroyed in the attempt.
.. while efficiency may well be a worthwhile goal for the operation of machines, it generally has very little to do with those pursuits that hold the strongest meaning for us and that we cherish most.
.. it’s the very qualities of slack and redundancy that turn out to be essential to the effective functioning of a city over the long term. …inherent inefficiency … allows an urban polity the luxury of trying various approaches to problem solving and the freedom to search the total space of possibility..
any attempt to suppress this class of behavior in the name of optimal functioning, then, is not merely a clear abrogation of a citizenry’s right to self-expression but also deprives the city itself of one of its most important feedback mechanisms.
.. utterly failing to account for the qualities which underlie love of place.
ch 9: the smart city’s systems are deployed for the sole benefit of administrators
the smart city is clearly understood to reside in an ensemble of technologies at a scale that can only be acquired and deployed by state actors, and that requires expenditure at a level generally financed by bond issue.
.. any sense of the texture of everyday life.. abstracted to the point of nonexistence.. citizens, by and large, are absent.. except as generators of data.. as undifferentiated consumers..
recall that ibm intends their offering to “synchronize and analyze” not citizen efforts but those of “sectors and agencies.”
the sense that citizens themselves may wish to avail themselves directly of the information ostensibly being gathered on their behalf is almost surreally absent from the smart-city literature.
ch 10: the smart city is predicated on indeed, is difficult to imagine outside of – a neoliberal political economy
profit over people ness
i understand neoliberalism to be a political philosophy that: .. services privatized.. deregulation but to ie: property rights.. frictionless global trade.. reduction of taxes but to ie: military/judicial
… short introduction to neoliberal policy… (via) Masdar city: “foreign firms setting up shop will.. be able to work without local partners if they want, and to move capital freely in and out of the country. there will be strong protection of intellectual property and little in the way of paperwork. most alluringly, they will not pay any taxes.”
again and again, from hitachi to cisco to microsoft, we see assertions like these treated as facts and givens, reproduced as the unexamined furniture of consensus normality.
pluralistic ignorance.. wake up call
“the smart city” barely exists outside of the rhetorical productions of actors already profoundly committed to market-based conceptions of the good.
ch 11: the smart city presents a set of potentials disturbingly consistent with the exercise of authoritarianism
… while the carrot is certainly preferable to the stick, neither has anything to do with upholding citizens’ right to assess a situation and decide for themselves what course of action to adopt... putatively benevolent authoritarianism is still authoritarianism
it may well be that there are readers who have no particular problem with any of this as long as the streets are cleaned, the traffic flows smoothly, the revenue targets are met and the proverbial trains run on time. but however carefully it may be hidden – and however seductive the gleam of the surfaces hiding it – authoritarian efficiency is always founded on violence of one sort or another.
ch 12: perhaps most damningly of all, the smart city has little enough to do with cities
in particular, it takes a large, diverse population to support the level of demand for niche or specialist products, services and experiences that, in turn, virtually defines the urban(e). this multiplicity, inevitably, is not unalloyed (pure) in its blessings…. wildly divergent conceptions of the good, … virtually guaranteeing the impossibility of satisfying them all at once. but that, too, is part of what we mean when we call something a city.
if anything, just the opposite is true.. almost by definition, every act in the smart city is a formal one, or becomes formalized in short order. at least in principle, every behavior is observed. every observation generates a record. and every record is persistently available for administrators to consider and weigh among all the others.
it’s clear that the architects of the smart city have never contemplated the damage their technics of universal watchfulness would surely inflict on a functioning place, … we can, by not, trivially diagnose the overriding desire at the core of all such schemes: control, and the reduction or (preferably) elimination of risk, in the name of a bleak stability.
what just sheets off of the smart-city discourse is a discomfort with unpredictability, a positive terror of the unforeseen and emergent – in short, a palpable nervousness about the urban itself.
purpose.. maximize shareholder value… from living planit’s material, “occupant support and convenience systems.”
.. replicated only the things about existing cities that their creators want to see, while manifesting the most astonishing blindness to the city as it is and to the processes that keep it functioning.
ch 13: the smart city replicates in tone, tenor, form and substance most if not all the blunders we associate with the discredited high-modernist urban planning techniques of the twentieth century
between 1880 and 1960
in example after example, death and life decried the damage done to a city’s organic processes of value generation when the”decontaminated sortings” of functional segregation were imposed on it; Jacobs devoted an entire chapter to exploring the ways in which the long blocks….
over the decade that followed (63), it became ever more clear that urban environments built on corbusian principles were by and large incapable of supporting anything we’d recognized as quality of life.
but that is precisely the point: systems as brittle and overspecified as pruitt-igoe can only persist in the world with constant supervision.
to design twenty-first century urban environments in willful ignorance of everything we’ve learned at such great cost is to commit a shameful and discrediting act of malpractice.
ch 14: the same set of technical potentials that give rise to the smart city can be turned to more responsive ends
in the end, this is why i believe it’s worth focusing a considerable amount of attention on the notionally temporary language of websites and interviews and expos stands. quite simply, this rhetoric does work in the world. it sets agendas, influences perceptions of what it means to be “advanced,” recalibrates norms and guides the allocation of resources. proliferated across the network without end or limit, we can see it filling an entire space of sociotechnical possibility with the airless hegemony of a single bad idea that no one has the time or energy to fight, least of all the citizens whose lives will wind up conditioned by it.
the same ensemble of technologies that undergirds centralized computational administration can be used in profoundly different ways and turned to much more fruitful ends.
it should hardly (but apparently does) need to be said that we ought to devise technological frameworks that support this process of self-organization rather than undermining it.
by conceiving of each as a mesh of interdependencies with other urban places on earth, by giving each neighbor and each neighborhood the tools to innovate, share and learn from the insights of others in similar situations, we can improve the resiliency of the whole.
invert the premise and ask how technological intervention might support the emergence of intelligences, subjects and subjectivities we would recognize as distinctly urban: how might we leverage the potential of data-gathering, analysis and visualization tools to improve a community’s sense of the challenges, risks and opportunities facing it, and support it in the aim of autonomous self-governance?
c dot app et al
to design for the needs of here and now… to accept that anything we do will necessarily be partial, biased and weighted… to design without effacing the seams between things, such that wherever possible the things we design explain themselves to the people whose lives they enter.
if we know that cities everywhere are always already smart, and that their intelligence resides in (all) the people, our task as designers is finding out how best to harness that intelligence.
tech listening – without agenda – to daily curiosities. facilitating connections, trails.
(two insinuations we need to challenge) – first.. that the contemporary urban environment is so complex… that no group of ordinary, unaided human beings can hope to understand/manage it wisely. – second.. that the people who live in a place cannot be entrusted with the power to manage their own affairs
thought it’s garbed for the moment in the seductive language of efficiency, agility and sustainability, we might as well call that current for what it is: the impulse toward authoritarianism, and the will to control over other human beings.
let ting go ness
.. whatever changes the offering may undergo cosmetically, it is ultimately the same template at its core: quantification and obsessive measurement preferred to every other finger in the wind, … the specter of control.
it’s not that language is not important. if anything, i believe that it’s of paramount importance, and that we must take exceeding care with the words we use to frame the future we imagine. that’s why i insist there is no such thing as a decentralized, distributed, community-oriented smart city.
but new language alone won’t suffice. we need to develop a fundamentally different idea of a networked city.
perhaps the need to model (rather than explain/teach/manual-ize) another way..
it will bean learning ow to work productively with enterprises like ibm, cisco and siemens, while asking more pointed question of them than perhaps they are used to, or will be comfortable with.
The task before us is to discover, or invent, a politics, a mobility and a conviviality that are both authentic to our circumstances…
…and capable of giving full expression to the emancipatory potential that remains latent and unrealized in our networked technologies.
tweeted by Adam..
There are other issues. The authors don’t appear to have considered the track record of similar groups, such as the United States Conference of Mayors. Perhaps that conference simply isn’t zeitgeisty enough. And for all its talk of urban innovation in say, labour policy or counterterrorism, this is a parliament that seems curiously evacuated of politics. More than once the proposal holds up internet governance as a model, doubtless a legacy of Tapscott’s longstanding interest. True, that process, founded on a longstanding dedication to rough consensus, might indeed have a thing or two to teach other kinds of decision-making bodies. But human communities aren’t clusters of routers to be dispassionately administered. The techniques developed by a relatively homogeneous group to help them manage a technical domain by no means necessarily translate to the messy scrum of urban life.
But none of that is to say the idea of a platform for inter-urban cooperation is a bad one. If nothing else, it’s surely more salutary than the notions of competition and ranking we’re more usually exposed to. The authors themselves admit that what they might really be interested in is a global parliament of cities, rather than mayors, and that idea – a networked, global assembly of citydwellers, sharing hard-won insights into what works and what generally does not – strikes me as a far better plan than herding the likes of Shintaro Ishihara, Kwame Kilpatrick and Giorgio Orsoni on to some latter-day Slack channel to hash out enlightened policy between them. It probably wouldn’t look much like what Barber, Tapscott and Florida have proposed, but it might get closer to the ideal they envision.
18 min – Adam on design and protest:
the smart cities only paradigm is optimized flow.. so when you have people pouring into the streets, ie: hong kong, if that city was equipped..
a diagram of occupy sandy:
preliminary notes (linked in back of against the smart city):
..Even this seemingly very basic step had a certain ideological logic to it, though: people working with OS are universally known by their first name or nickname, and there’s something appealingly democratic about it. It’s kind of nice to find, amidst a process like this, that you’re Adam, and not Sergeant Greenfield. You wind up using people’s names a lot, which I belatedly realized that I’d gotten out of the habit of doing.
REGISTRATION desk. The form is straightforward, capturing contact information, availability, and whether the volunteer possesses specialized skills — i.e. medical, legal, construction or demolition experience; fluency in Spanish or Russian.
I believe that it’s entirely appropriate for a movement founded on core tenets of anti-oppression to ask would-be volunteers to understand those tenets, to explain that expressions of sexism, racism, classism or homophobia would not be tolerated, and to emphasize that people unable to let go of such viewpoints would most likely be more comfortable elsewhere. What I found somewhat more striking was the immediate insistence that what is happening at 520 Clinton and the other OS sites is mutual aid, and precisely not charity, followed by a brief discussion of what the difference implies for the longevity of relief efforts and the relations of power inscribed in them. I found this very moving, personally, and while like everyone I couldn’t wait to dive in to the real work, I stood through the orientation spiel with a shit-eating grin.
The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology
Occupy Sandy’s volunteers were unquestionably able to do this because they used networked technology to coordinate and maintain real-time situational awareness over their activities. Crucially, though, the systems they used were neither particularly elaborate, nor the ones many theorists of networked urbanism might have envisioned. They certainly didn’t have anything to do with the high-spec, high-margin instrumentation that IT multinationals would have municipal governments invest in.
Ed as well
The true enablers of participation turn out to be nothing more exciting than cheap commodity devices, reliable access to sufficiently high- bandwidth connectivity, and generic cloud services. These implications should be carefully mulled over by developers, those responsible for crafting municipal and national policy, and funding bodies in the philanthropic sector.
In both these cases, ordinary people used technologies of connection to help them steer their own affairs, not merely managing complex domains to a minimal threshold of competence, but outperforming the official bodies formally entrusted with their stewardship. This presents us with the intriguing prospect that more of the circumstances of everyday urban life might be managed this way, on a participatory basis, by autonomous neighbourhood groups networked with one another in something amounting to a city-wide federation.
I really, really wish that Redefine School wasn’t so reliant on idiosyncratic jargon. There’s so much good sense locked up in it.
total jargon below.. for my record. (which is fittingly – the revelation i’m trying share)
so – as i’m reading.. against the city (and having to look up enough words).. and wondering about rhizo14 convos, global convos, et al – on the potential for blockage words have.. esp written word.. further complicating the trouble with communication ness. ..
and i’m thinking about the app as a completely different form/use of tech (as gathering curiosities as data) – relying on its ability to be agnostic/objective/non-judgmental, so that the self-talk is truly (as close to truly perhaps) authentic.. (esp the more detox parses it out), ..
but maybe now.. even moreso.. thinking about its ability to let us speak our own languages.. (idiosyncratic jargon) – creating equitable access to communication. and then too – to serve as a degree of privacy we (may or may not) want. like a crypto scrambler ish. like completely/publicly transparent – but invisible to the naked eye. like – the code breaker is – you have to care enough about that particular person and/or topic.. to have either 1) learned that particular language 2) learn it really fast 3) spend more time with the person or 4) embrace the dis\order .. but it goes both ways – not a distraction (begging for attention) for those not inclined – as well as – aid in translation for those really wanting to connect
just rambling going on in my head… that i don’t want to lose (which i believe is another great use of the app/tech – like how Clive credits Thad).. like it’s freed him up to listen better.. pay attention to now ness.
june 2015 – social corrosive mobility
f Uber is a confession that the “smart city” is a place we already live in, then, it is also a cautionary case study in the kinds of values we can expect such a city to uphold in its everyday operation — some merely strongly implicit, others right out there in the open. Just what are they?
– Those who can afford to pay more deserve to be treated better.
july 2015 – not by Adam – but references/builds on Adam’s – against smart city:
spectrum of control
II. What is a smart city?
III. The ideology of the smart city
IV. Smart cities in societies of control
V. The soft power of biometric surveillance
VI. The hard power of policing technologies
VII. Cyborg urbanization, blurred boundaries
VIII. Taking back control
Globally — in terms of market valuation, expendable capital, technological development, and transformative influence — the smart city movement has been growing at a rapid pace. A 2013 report, released by the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, estimated that “the global market for smart city solutions and the additional services required to deploy them [will] be $408 billion by 2020.”
we point the reader to Adam Greenfield’s thorough pamphlet, Against the smart city (2013). ..our hope is to draw attention to the ways in which seemingly disparate technologies and techniques have origins in and reproduce common socio-political logics — and we will do this by discussing specific initiatives. But first, the next section introduces the ideologies — updating and adding depth to Greenfield’s own study — that are embedded within and enacted by smart city initiatives.
other than the corporate model, “there exist no large-scale alternative smart city models, partly because most cities have generally embraced a pro-business and entrepreneurial governance model of urban development”
But the system would not be very forgiving of individual experimentation with, say, violating its rules.
The IoT is not simply a chance to watch people, but to produce and reproduce certain patterns of interaction (Bogard, 1996), and to replacepeople with robotic agents once data about them has been so pervasively recorded that it can be downloaded into an automaton to simulate their actions.
The smart city not only operates on people in this way — for instance, viewing citizens as analog-cum-digital information nodes, or “citizen sensors” – but it also reimagines and reconstructs the city, in itself, as a machine, which can and must be administered and managed. …Gilles Deleuze’s (1995) notion of “societies of control.”
A Deleuzian “society of control” has at least three crucial components — dividuals, rhizomes, and passwords — which come together to form a continuously acting logic……Monitored by sensors, by contrast, city dwellers are becoming less individuals than “dividuals”: entities ready to be divided into any number of pieces, with specific factors separated, scrutinized, and surveilled. What the person does becomes less important than the consequences calculated in response to emanated data streams. For example: the metadata from a phone call may be far more fateful than the talking which we usually take to be its purpose.
The list of ways that people are dividualized goes on. It is identity via synecdoche, where a factor — which factor depends on the system — becomes representative of the whole and becomes all that matters.
Life is filled with these passwords. Yet, at any moment a password could be rejected — rightly or wrongly, with or without your knowledge — and the amount of control the array of underlying mechanisms have over you become bluntly apparent. Deleuze asked us to imagine “a city where one would be able to leave one’s apartment, one’s street, one’s neighborhood, thanks to one’s (dividual) electronic card that raises a given barrier; but the card could just as easily be rejected on a given day or between certain hours” As infrastructure decays and the rhizomatic tendrils extend further, city dwellers increasingly feel the Kafkaesque frustration such a scenario entails.
But when that consent is remote or indirect, its force, validity, and scope should be vitiated. Internet “terms of service” are the ideal-type of desiccated, hollow, pro forma “consent” that is better termed obeisance, acquiescence, or learned helplessness. Thus the overall pattern of relationships in the smart city results in a seamless “spectrum of control,” with meritorious or merely creepy technologies directly imbricated with deeply disturbing ones.
These “automated systems scale efficiently, allow meticulous and tireless enforcement of many laws, promise rapid dispatch of punishment, and offer financial incentives to law enforcement agencies, governments, and purveyors of these systems”
The subjects of the smart city are simply herded along toward maximally productive activity (via nudges or shoves), rarely if ever given the time to questioning the how or why of their own opportunities or aspirations.
Those affected lose a chance at individualized treatment and understanding, as technical systems treat people as a mere collection of data points.
The city dweller is better understood as an urban cyborg: one who doesn’t live in the city, but who lives aspart of the city.
The watchword here is “natural user interface,” which aims for frictionless interaction. It portends cybernetic existence without kinetic interference. The urban cyborg’s life is mediated and structured by technologies in ways large and small, obvious and unnoticed.
The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. – David Harvey
We have sought to provide the critical foundation needed to articulate the smart city’s emancipatory potential for all its residents, rather than the elite, (mostly) men behind the curtain of its sensory apparatus. It is against that democratic egalitarian goal — of fair benefit and burden sharing — that alleged “smartenings” of the city must be measured.
interview at #dcentmadrid.. (more of adam on panel on this page)
the tech i’m trying to examine in the book.. the ones which are doing most to condition our everyday life.. our ability to relate to one and other and self… the way we org in collectivity and groups… ie: automation, blockchain, virtual reality, digital fabrication…. i’m looking at them …skeptically.. what sorts of limitations/possibilities do they open up for us..
the more i deeply i get involved each of these.. the less i feel they have anything to offer that could be possibly do better than experience of ie: gen assembly… to be in presence of one another.. we might not always reach agreement.. but we need to arrive at some kind of mode that allows us to go on living together..
2 min – calls forth the most extraordinary emotional presence… (occupy..).. i have to compare the visceral experience.. with what i experience the rest of my everyday life.. only one of those.. makes me feel like an agent of history .. a subject w power/agency…
3 min – so i choose..the tech of immediate/authentic/collective action.. via stavros: efficiency is a neoliberal virtue.. not a popular one.. when you take time to invest in fully being present.. in said/felt/expressed… that takes you to a diff place of inside collectively.. then you can hope to.. if guided by values of efficiency/evidence based decision making.. good/wise decision making
LSE Cities (@LSECities) tweeted at 6:52 AM – 11 Apr 2017 :
6 June: Adam Greenfield #talk on how #technology is redefining the choices we’re able to make. https://t.co/rpUVGGclVS #RadicalTechnologies https://t.co/b20QBcQG9V (http://twitter.com/LSECities/status/851779903058059265?s=17)
article by ian bogost.. ref to adam greenfield‘s radical techs
The much needed primer on blockchain’s underlying ideology and its unintended consequences https://t.co/wf7z98rCK0
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/jkleske/status/870274495164149760
Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism
Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.
In his book Radical Technologies, the urban designer Adam Greenfield calls cryptocurrency and blockchain the first technology that’s “just fundamentally difficult for otherwise intelligent and highly capable people to understand.” I was relieved when I read this, because I have been pretending to understand cryptocurrencies—digital money based in code-breaking—for years.
Bitcoin is an expression of extreme technological libertarianism. This school of thought goes by many names: anarcho-capitalism (or ancap for short), libertarian anarchy, market anarchism. Central to the philosophy is a distrust of states in favor of individuals. Its adherents believe society best facilitates individual will in a free-market economy driven by individual property owners—not governments or corporations—engaging in free trade of that private property.
The ancap worldview only supports sovereign individuals engaging in free-market exchange. Neither states nor corporations are acceptable intermediaries. That leaves a sparsely set table. At it: individuals, the property they own, the contracts into which they enter to exchange that property, and a market to facilitate that exchange. All that’s missing is a means to process exchanges in that market.
unless at the table: individuals, their curiosities.. bag the measuring of transactions.. bag the ownings
For anarcho-capitalism to work in earnest, it would need to divorce transactions entirely from the traditional monetary system and the organizations that run it. Central banks and corporations could interfere with transactions. And yet, if individuals alone maintained currency records, money could be used fraudulently, or fabricated from thin air.
? – doesn’t sound divorced from monetary system..
To solve these problems, Bitcoin is backed by mathematics instead of state governments.
This is the process known as “mining”—a confusing and aspirational name for what amounts to computational accounting.
This record is the blockchain, which is sometimes also called the *“distributed ledger”—a much more elucidating name. This is the missing element that’s supposed to allow the hypothetical anarcho-capitalist techno-utopia to flourish.
imagine we use a distributed ledger – for hlb – sans measuring/validating transactions
Adam Greenfield tells me that two Chinese giants can control over half of the global Bitcoin mining operations. If they collaborate, a majority-control of the blockchain could allow them to manipulate it. That’s precisely the risk a decentralized currency was meant to avoid.
The same hype driving cryptocurrency speculation has also attracted banks, governments, and corporations—exactly the authorities it was designed to circumvent
Networked locks are nothing new, thanks to the internet of things. But a blockchain-backed connected lock offers some additional capabilities. A distributed-ledger lock could enter into a “smart contract,” an agreement whose terms are implemented directly in code. If attached to an AirBnB rental, such a lock could be programmed to automatically release when a smartphone belonging to a pre-paid renter approaches.
Ethereum uses that technology to express a different aspect of the ancap model: contracts. For libertarians, contracts exist to facilitate market exchange, so smart contracts are always backed by currency (Ether, in Ethereum’s case). If Bitcoin is digital money for people, Ether is digital money for computers. It decides how to spend itself via software automation.
Why tout a private, distributed-ledger currency as an agent of liberation when it amounts to a complicated, software-backed, company-town store? One answer: It could give the workers a stake in the company store.
On that front, the anarcho-liberatarians share something in common with the plain-vanilla technolibertarians:
a belief in the wisdom and righteousness of a fully computational universe.
Who needs real-estate agents, closing attorneys, assessors, mortgage brokers, title insurers, municipal tax authorities, and all the rest? Just transfer some Ether after the computers shake hands.
It sure sounds good. But the scenario only works if the entire system of contemporary life becomes sufficiently *interconnected to make it possible. All the **departments of public health and the DMVs and the voter registration venues—not to mention the parking spaces and the automobiles and the power grids and all the rest—would have to cohere around a common understanding, so that the machines could execute smart contracts on their behalf. This would require a complete ***reinvention of public and private life.
For Adam Greenfield, the anti-authoritarian left has profoundly misunderstood the corner into which such an ambitious aspiration paints society. “I believe distributed ledger enables the kind of central control they’ve never in their worst nightmares contemplated,” he tells me. The irony would be tragic if it weren’t also so frightening. The invitation to transform distributed-ledger systems into the ultimate tool of corporate and authoritarian control might be too great a temptation for human nature to forgo.
Michael Wiik (@mwiik) tweeted at 4:26 PM on Wed, Sep 27, 2017:
https://t.co/Lw15eEEQAS a few 2 min vids on Adam Greenfield’s _Radical Technologies _”What are the real dangers of Artificial Intelligence?”
Michael Wiik (@mwiik) tweeted at 4:28 PM on Wed, Sep 27, 2017:
https://t.co/IXMvliF3F1 another 2 min video on _Radical Technologies_ “Is there a coherent ideology at the core of Silicon Valley?”
Ian Bogost (@ibogost) tweeted at 10:33 AM – 14 Feb 2018 :
Adam Greenfield (@agpublic) predicts that China’s Black-Mirror-like social-credit scheme, inspired by the West, could make its way back to the West. https://t.co/XWlO14He7m (http://twitter.com/ibogost/status/963828518273601536?s=17)
Known by the anodyne name “social credit,” this system is designed to reach into every corner of existence both online and off. It monitors each individual’s consumer behavior, conduct on social networks, and real-world infractions like speeding tickets or quarrels with neighbors. Then it integrates them into a single, algorithmically determined “sincerity” score. Every Chinese citizen receives a literal, numeric index of their trustworthiness and virtue, and this index unlocks, well, everything. In principle, anyway, this one number will determine the opportunities citizens are offered, the freedoms they enjoy, and the privileges they are granted.
The advent of social credit portends changes both dramatic and consequential for life in cities everywhere—including the one you might call home.
dominant current of urbanist thought in the West sees order in cities as uncontrived—an emergent outcome of lower-level processes. Canny observers like Georg Simmel, Jane Jacobs, and Richard Sennett hold that virtually everything that makes big-city life what it is—and big-city people who they are—arises from the necessity of negotiating with the millions of others with whom city dwellers share their daily environments. In cities that are set up to afford this kind of interaction, people learn to practice what the sociologist Erving Goffman called “civil inattention.” They acknowledge the presence of others without making any particular claim on them.
o hear Jacobs tell it, the city’s special heterogeneity actually keeps its communities safe, by guaranteeing that there are “eyes on the street” at all times
Such organic surveillance only arises when a given locale supports a healthy mix of schedules, uses, and users, conjuring collective security out of the flux and churn of different kinds of people moving through the same space at the same time.
Jacobs’s fundamental point still stands: Left largely to its own devices, a city forges a surprising degree of stability from its underlying diversity and complexity.
As far as the ruling elites of Zhongnanhai are concerned, though, “sincerity construction,” or the process that results in stability and public rectitude, is something far too important to be left to the unplanned interactions of millions of city dwellers. From their point of view, orderliness is paramount, because orderliness makes for stability, and stability makes for continued economic growth.
Seen in this light, order produced from below is not reliable enough to be trusted. It leaves too much room for chance. And worst of all, from the perspective of a party bent on perpetuating its control, it does nothing to prevent the possibility of contagious urban insurrection. Social credit offers a salve to all these concerns.
The social-credit system was based explicitly on a familiar, Western model: the credit score. As a de facto reputation index, your credit score strongly conditions where you can rent, what kind of jobs or educational opportunities you’ll be eligible for, even what mode of travel you use to get around. This one number—formulated by obscure means, by largely unaccountable organizations, then used as a gating mechanism by a profusion of third parties, mostly in secret—has become what it was never meant to be: a general proxy for trustworthiness.
The state wants its citizens to believe that there’s little point in trying to evade detection
What emerges is a marriage of database and truncheon (a short, thick stick carried as a weapon by a police officer) —a vision of supple, gleaming technology at the surface of everyday life, working hand in hand with the oldest and most brutal forms of oppression, continuing their unbroken reign in the depths below.
It’s not hard to see how such restrictions, applied broadly enough, would put an effective brake on nonconforming behaviors—or even the expression of nonconforming opinions.
China is an unabashedly authoritarian state equipped with everything it needs to cut dissent off at its source. It has the power to create a generation of compliant subjects both unaware of alternatives and utterly unable to formulate whatever grievances they might hold in a politically potent way.
If urbanists like Simmel, Jacobs, Sennett, and Goffman concluded that citizens’ ability to get along with one another in densely settled places is an emergent matter, social credit suggests just the opposite: Urban order, from outward harmony to inner sincerity, can (and should) be imposed from above.
What Tsai means is that Chinese society—and by extension, Chinese cities—will run more smoothly once citizens have internalized the idea of an ever-watchful state and learned to comport themselves accordingly. It’s hard to imagine a more concise illustration of social credit’s capacity to flatten and dull the ferment cities rely upon to create vitality, meaning, and value.
The freedoms that were once figured as a matter of “the right to the city” would become contingent on algorithmically determined certification of good conduct