Place: Medialab-Prado en Intermediae Matadero Madrid (Paseo de la Chopera, 14 Madrid)
"This paper counterposes two strands of thought around smart urbanism and suggests both share some epistemic and ontological positions. The first, strand we may see as a continuation of planning dreams of technocratic management. Here new digital information enables the seamless and smooth integration of data in real time systems. Here we can see a fantasy of (one way) transparency behind the open city providing an omniscient control system. There is both a corporate ersion of this (where the irrationalities of the populace and frictions of the city can be obviated) and an academic version that speaks to a citizen science where the citizen becomes the data priovider (providing ever more comprehensive information).
The alternate strand sees a thousand algorithms blooming all enabled by feeding off the open data commons. In the second strand, then the transparency is more multidimensional and there are appeals to a democratisation not only of information access but processing. Both of these strands collapse normal temporal regimes of planning and management (data-analysis-plan-act) into real time automated processes and also the second opens out ‘spatial’ notions of data operation (capture -store-centres of calculation-deploy). The latter challenges the well-ordered and manicured datascape for sure, leading us to think of data as unruly, having agency and vitality. When data goes travelling it can outrun and exceed the planned uses and users. Moreover, it seems pretty clear that within a few years there will be more devices than people connected (to each other) in the networked city. Although heuristically these strands can be counterposed there are of course attempts to both destabilise central control by pluralising forces and attempts to recuperate local action by major actors. Does a move to think of improvisational and transient connections detotalise the vision of the city? Or do both share a notion of efficiency or transparency. Both lionise the top end of data processing (‘big data’) and the top end of digital devices connecting to the city. What if we were to look at the ‘kludge’ (the sub-optimal make-do software patch) as normal not a failure? What if instead of a digital agora we thought of this constructing an architecture of the scab? If we were to look at the good enough city, that is about retrofitting on existing infrastructures, that is about making do and getting by?" By Mike Crang, Durham University.