Author Archives: Sung-Yueh Perng

Seminar 2: Tweeting the Smart city by Prof Gillian Rose

We are very excited to announce that our next seminar will feature Professor Gillian Rose (Oxford University), jointly organised with Social Sciences Institute and Geography Department. The seminar is entitled: Tweeting the Smart city: The Affective Enactments of the Smart City on Social Media and you can find further seminar details below. We look forward to seeing many of you in the seminar!

Time: 13:00 to 14.30, Thursday, 26th October
Venue: Rocque Lab, Rhetoric House, South Campus, Maynooth University (Building #17 on the campus map)
Abstract:
Digital technologies of various kinds are now the means through which many cities are made visible and their spatialities negotiated. From casual snaps shared on Instagram to elaborate photo-realistic visualisations, digital technologies for making, distributing and viewing cities are more and more pervasive. This talk will explore some of the implications of that digital mediation of urban spaces. What forms of urban life are being made visible in these digitally mediated cities, and how? Through what configurations of temporality, spatiality and embodiment? And how should that picturing be theorised? Drawing on recent work on the visualisation of so-called ‘smart cities’ on social media, the lecture will suggest the scale and pervasiveness of digital imagery now means that notions of ‘representation’ have to be rethought. Cities and their inhabitants are increasingly mediated through a febrile cloud of streaming image files; as well as representing cities, this cloud also operationalises particular, affective ways of being urban. The lecture will explore some of the implications of this shift for both theory and method as well as critique.

ProgCity_Seminar_5_2_GillianRose

CFP After the smart city? The state of critical scholarship ten years on

CFP: AAG Annual Meeting, New Orleans, USA, April 10-14 2018: deadline October 6th.

 ”After the smart city?: The state of critical scholarship ten years on”

Today, the smart city imaginary is a recurring theme within critical urban geography and implies a particular set of rationalities. While it tends to centre upon digital technologies as a means to solve complex urban problems, it is also an entrepreneurial branding and boosting technique for cities. The implementation of smart city strategies transforms how cities operate and has resulted in an array of well-documented critiques around control, privacy, and technological determinist or solutionist visions of the urban.  Furthermore, these data and software-driven solutions are often instrumental: merely treating symptoms, while failing to address the underlying problem. This has led to the idea that smart technologies are a solution looking for a problem.

This session seeks papers that explore approaches, policies, and practices that actively invoke and negotiate these issues, while also situating the smart city within wider, ongoing debates in and beyond urban geography. Thus, this session is not prescriptive and welcomes scholars interested in the smart city, data and digital transformations, digital infrastructure, technocratic and algorithmic governance, and the political economy of cities. In particular, we are interested in thinking through the ‘place’ of smart cities today: what have critical investigations of the topic achieved and where do we go from here?

Areas of potential interest for research papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • The nexus between governance, policy, technological innovation, and power;
  • How smart city initiatives are placed upon existing urban infrastructure and service provisions and the resulting consequences.
  • The role of the smart citizen.
  • The splintering effects of digital technologies.
  • The effects of technologies on everyday processes and environments.
  • Urban entrepreneurialism and the Smart City.

Please send titles and proposed abstracts (250 words max) to Aoife Delaney (Aoife.delaney@mu.ie) and Alan Wiig (alan.wiig@umb.edu) no later than Friday 6 October 2017.

 

Seminar 1: Sophia Maalsen – Where is the Smart House in the Smart City?

Our first seminar in the 2017-8 series will be given by our visiting scholar Dr. Sophia Maalsen who is the IB Fell Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning. She will be in Dublin and available to discuss her work from the 27th of September to the 27th of October.

In this seminar she will be presenting her preliminary explorations into situating the smart house in the smart city research as one part of her broader project, ‘Housing Futures: Smart and Shared’ – a project which looks at how smart technologies and the housing affordability crisis are reconfiguring housing. This project responds to both these imperatives – understanding the experiences of share housing as an increasingly important form of living, and understanding the smart home beyond owner occupation. It asks: how are shared and smart houses being made in contemporary Australia and what are their implications for housing policy?

Increasing attention is directed to smart cities as their popularity as a ‘fix all’ for the economic, environmental and social challenges facing cities, continues to grow. Contemporaneously, there is a growing amount of literature on the smart home and smart housing, likewise positioned as a smart solution to environmental, economic and social problems. Despite the increased activity in these two ‘smart’ areas, there is little research that addresses smart housing in context of the smart city. Furthermore, in the limited research on smart housing, a comparatively small amount of literature addresses their ‘smart’ nature from a social science perspective. Of the scant literature that addresses both the smart house, even less does so from a social science lens of analysis, with publications predominantly located in the computer sciences and engineering. This is problematic on multiple levels. First, the dominance of computer science and engineering literature on both smart cities and smart houses, privileges technological solutions to city and housing issues and contends that improvement will be an automatic outcome of technology, rather than understanding how people can use the technology for better outcomes. Secondly, the relative absence of housing in smart city discourse makes invisible a key component of the city and its broader web of relations, flows of people, capital, materials and resources. In this seminar, she discusses these gaps in the literature, identifies why this is problematic and suggests areas where the smart city and smart housing intersect.

This research is funded by the generosity of the Ian Buchanan Fell Trust and Sophia would like to acknowledge their support.

ProgCity_Seminar_5_1_SophiaMaalsen

New paper on collaborative urban infrastructuring

Sung-Yueh Perng has published a new working paper entitled Practices and politics of collaborative urban infrastructuring: Traffic Light Box Artworks in Dublin Streets, as part of the Programmable City Working Paper series.

Paper Abstract
Cities are transformed into sites of experimentation through large-scale smart city initiatives, but the visions and practices of establishing public, private and civic partnerships are often overshadowed by corporate interests, governance convenience and efficiency, with an overemphasis on technological innovations. Instead of relying on these partnerships, civic hacking initiatives seek to develop collaboration between programmers and community members, on the one hand, and government officials and organisations, on the other, for experimenting prototyping processes that foreground community needs. These initiatives are considered as pursuing open, inclusive and collaborative governance and is analysed through the lens of collaborative urban infrastructuring to attend to the dynamics, consequences and implications emerging from the prototyping processes. The analysis of the collaboration between Code for Ireland and Dublin City Council Beta suggests that the spatio-temporal scaling of prototypes lead to the continual and contested scaling of skills, knowledges, capabilities, organisational procedures and socio-technical arrangements. These heterogeneous scaling engenders desirable futures and future problems. The articulation and enactment of the values that attract diverse visions, viewpoints and practices into collaborative experimentation can be challenged by agonistic relationships arising from exploring practical arrangements for the mutual shaping of desirable governance procedures and the organisational expectations, obligations and constraints that are already in place. Furthermore, in the processes of scaling, there are constant dangers of enacting patriarchal stewardships and taking an all-knowing position for caring and evaluating impacts, which makes it critical to also experiment with ways of disclosing urban techno-politics that emerges continuously and in unanticipated ways.

If you are interested, full working paper can be found here: https://osf.io/2xpq7

New paper: Hackathons, entrepreneurship and the passionate making of smart cities

Sung-Yueh Perng, Robk Kitchin and Darach Mac Donncha draw on their various hackathon experiences, including mentoring and winning!, to present you a close-up look of these tech and ‘innovation’ events. The working paper shared here examines how these events extend the passions for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and act as sites of social learning for the development of smart urbanism. If you are interested, the abstract below provides more detail. Or, you can find the working paper using the link: https://osf.io/nu3ec. If you have any thoughts or comments, do share with us!

 

Abstract

Hackathons – quick prototyping events for commercial purposes – have become an important means to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and the start-up economy in smart cities. Smart and entrepreneurial cities have been critiqued with respect to the neoliberalization of governance and statecraft. We consider the passions, inventions and imitations in the assemblage of practices – alongside neoliberalizing and capitalist operations – that shape the economy and governance of smart cities. The paper examines hackathons as tech events that extend the passions for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and act as sites of social learning for the development of smart urbanism. We argue that passionate and imitative practices energize the desire and belief in entrepreneurial life and technocratic governance, and also engender precarious, ambiguous and uncertain future for participants and prototypes.

Slides for Design, Aesthetics, Politics and Urban Lives

The slides shared below were for a talk entitled Design, Aesthetics, Politics and Urban Lives given at the event People, Cities and Urban Interaction Design on 9 March, organised by Interaction Design Association Dublin. Anja Maerz and Lucy Barrett from Future Cities Catapult together gave a very interesting talk, sharing their experiences of and reflections on their engagements with citizens for improving their experiences of living in cities in different parts of the world.

My talk focused on Dublin, particularly DCC Beta, PyLadies, Coding Grace and Code for Ireland, making the point that how we anticipate future now, in our everyday life and with diverse social worlds can have consequential effects on how futures might come about, a point drawing on the always inspirational sociology, John Urry. If you are interested, here are the slides: