04 Jan

Urban Informatics

Journal coverA special issue of Information, Communication and Society just hit the stands and it’s worth a mention here. Yeah, yeah, I have an article in it, but more importantly, it’s a fantastic collection of work on the topic of “Urban Informatics: Software, Cities, and the New Cartographies of Knowing Capitalism.” Here’s the table of contents:

  • Mike Crang & Stephen Graham, “Sentient Cities: ambient intelligence and the politics of urban space”
  • Rowland Atkinson & Paul Willis, “Charting the ludochrome: the mediation of urban and simulated space and the rise of the flaneur electronique”
  • David Beer, “Tune out: music, soundscapes and the urban mise-en-scene”
  • Michael Hardey, “The city in the age of Web 2.0: a new synergistic relationship between place and people”
  • Eric Gordon, “Mapping digital networks: from cyberspace to Google”
  • Simon Parker, Emma Uprchard & Roger Burrows, “Class places and place classes: geodemographics and the spatialization of class”
  • Andy C. Pratt, Rosalind Gill & Volker Spelthann, “Work and the city in the e-society: a critical investigation of the sociospatially situated character of economic production in the digital content industries in the UK”
  • Nicholas Pleace, “Workless people and the surveillant mashups: social policy and data sharing in the UK”

Unfortunately, IC&S is not available online, so these articles might remain obscure to those without access to a research library. Seems a shame, especially considering the theme of the issue. We might be closer than ever to urban data, but academic knowledge remains quite distant.

That aside, it’s a privilege to have my work included in this excellent volume. And as I read through the journal and familiarize myself with the various projects, I hope that the issue sparks a greater debate about the politics of urban informatics – its potential benefits to democratic engagement and its potential risks to personal privacy and freedoms.

10 Dec

Situated Technologies

Situated TechnolgiesThe reception for the new Situated Technologies pamphlet series is taking place this Friday at the Urban Center in New York City. I really wish I could be there, but with the end of the semester fast approaching, I won’t be able to get away. This looks to be an amazing pamphlet series that will surely spark some necessary connections between urbanists, architects, technologists and media producers/critics.

BTW, the first release by Adam Greenfield and Mark Shepard, entitled Urban Computing and Its Discontents is available here as a free download.

30 Jan

The Social Life of Objects

This wired news post from imomus is a delightfully skeptical take on ubiqcomp (or some variety of the term).  He questions the relative value of these technologies and makes an argument that is reminiscent of Georg Simmel’s notion of the "blasé attitude."  The ubiquity of information-laden objects might, in fact, reduce a subject’s ability to "experience" the environment.  In his words:

Last year I coined the slogan "ubiquity is the abyss" to argue that the total accessibility of pop music in our current environment was killing the medium. Could the same thing apply to physical objects themselves, when — if — the time comes that they’re all ranked, uniquely named and located? Could objects have their finest and final hour at the same time, as recorded music seems to be doing right now?

The programming of objects, he suggests, might lead to the destruction of object-ness.  What we interact with is the hierarchy of data as opposed to the physicality of the object.  We order data instead of experiencing things.  In other words, what Bruce Sterling calls a spime (the data traces that accompany each object), or even what Julian Bleeker calls a blogject (the automated data creation of non-human actors), are the new "things." 

Link: Wired News: All the World’s a Tag.