Information communication technologies (ICTs) hold considerable promise for cities. Sometimes framed as smart cities, technologically enhanced urban spaces create efficiencies through streamlined infrastructure (because complex systems can better coordinate) and access to services (because people can be more aware of systems, i.e. real-time transit data on mobile phones).
But urban technologies do not always create efficiencies; they can also create meaningful inefficiencies in the form of social connections, and complex, nuanced understandings of place. This happens when people use technologies to achieve unpredictable outcomes: a process not typical of the smart cities paradigm. When information is contextualized and opportunities exist for data not simply to be transmitted, but for ideas to evolve through deliberative dialogue, there are meaningful inefficiencies. Social connections, deliberation, place-based story telling, and play, create nuance in how people understand local community and consequently influence how people construct meaning in an urban context.
Meaningful inefficiencies have typically been the jurisdiction of artists.
Stemming from the articulated problem that cities create sameness and social alienation, the social theorist Guy Debord in the 1960s established a theoretical framework and methodology through which to interrupt these phenomena. Debord sought to create alternative logics through which to experience the city, where a pre-defined pattern would determine how one moved, or randomness would dictate how one drifted through the urban landscape.
This sparked a genre of new media art loosely termed psychogeography, which employed technology as an intervention into existing urban patterns. Projects such as Eric Paulos and Elizabeth Goodman™ The Familiar Stranger (2002), which foreshadowed contemporary location-based social networks such as Foursquare, used Bluetooth technology on mobile phones to make people aware of those who shared geographic space.… Continue reading