Place: Medialab-Prado en Intermediae Matadero Madrid (Paseo de la Chopera, 14 Madrid)
"This presentation considers the power of social media to generate associational forms that support what may be called a new digital (or net) urban citizenship.
Certainly, enormous amounts of data about urban life are being produced both by residents and by remote sensors, stored and organized by digital services, and made available on demand as “open data” to the public by various government and municipal agencies. Certainly, many kinds of social media provide users with new capacities and conveniences to 'crowdsource' their interests: to network, perform, comment, and collaborate on user-defined issues. My discussion raises three considerations about these conditions.
I examine the extent to which this new sociality of peer-to-peer urbanism (Web 2.0) engages the stored streams of open city data (Web 1.0) to produce a new rhetoric of political life – rhetoric in the classic Athenian sense of the means to turn ordinary citizens (idiotai) into public and political ones. I also consider the extent to which this crowdsourcing may generate not only temporary, amorphous, festive, and/or mutinous crowds but also the sort of corporate, collective, public bodies that sustain membership and therefore define a citizenship – that is, may create a digital demos (as in demokratia) rather than merely a new kind of digital hoi polloi (the many).
I continue the Athenian mode here to consider whether the direct democracy that Web 2.0 seems to promise and that vast numbers of people worldwide seem to desire requires an urban citizenship (not national, in fact antagonistic to national) that is both open to all regardless of national belonging, ethnic identity, and property qualification and also closed to non-members. This consideration raises the difficult problem of the meaning of urban citizenship and the nature of its political powers.
Do the new information and communication technologies give 'the many' capacities to constitute public realms through their actions (a kratos that empowers a demos) that is fundamentally more than 'voting on line', more than an update, in other words, of majority rule and electoral control over offices.
Moreover, do they sustain such collective capacities to effect change over time rather than just in fleeting, mutinous moments (in effect, becoming institionalized)? Do these digitally-driven capacities capture political power independent of established institutional forms; what relation between the two? Finally, time permitting, a fourth section of my discussion considers this relation to power in terms of both urban forecasting and planning." By James Holston