Category Archives: events

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

Workshop: The Right to the Smart City: Citizenship, Civic Participation, Urban Commons and Co-Creation

The 4th annual Programmable City workshop takes place next week (5-6 Sept) at Maynooth University. This year’s theme is the right to the smart city, exploring ideas of citizenship, civic participation, social justice, urban commons and co-creation. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming our speakers and guests and to listening to the papers and engaging in discussion. The event is already at capacity, but as with previous years we will be videoing all the talks and will make them available on the Progcity website in due course.

Introduction: Rob Kitchin, The Right to the Smart City.

Session 1: Citizenship and the Smart City
Katharine Willis (Plymouth, UK), Ava Fatah (UCL, UK), Ana Baltazar (UFMG, Brazil) & Satyarupar Shekhar (CAG, India): Whose Right to the Smart City?

Jiska Engelbert (Erasmus, Rotterdam): Whose right to (define) the smart city? Extending our critical pointers beyond citizen participation

Réka Pétercsák & Mark Maguire (Maynooth): Participation in the Smart City: An Ethnographic Study of Citizen Engagement in Dublin

Cesare Di Feliciantonio (Maynooth): Against the romance of the smart community. The case of Milano 4 You.

Session 2: Urban Commons
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz (UoC, Barcelona): Citizens for Digital Social Innovation: Between Smartness and Commoning?

Michiel de Lange (Utrecht, Netherlands): Datafying the commons: data publics and smart citizenship

Paolo Cardullo (Maynooth): Smart Commons or a smart approach to the Commons?

Session 3: Co-creation and city governance
Nancy Odendaal (Cape Town, South Africa): Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa

Anna Davies (TCD): Smart flows? Commodification, commons and consumption for smarter cities

Robert Bradshaw (Maynooth): Democratic Rationalizations in the Bikeshare Sector

Session 4: Public labs, citizen-centric living labs, citizen science
Tara Whelan (Limerick): Matters of fact and matters of concern: issues of legitimacy, trust and resistance in citizen science

Gabriele Schliwa (Manchester, UK): Smart cities by design? Interrogating human-centred design as a tool for civic participation

Claudio Coletta & Caspar Menkman (Maynooth): Calculating publics and citizenship distributed sensing

Session 5: Shared city making (civic hacking, civic media)
Andrew Schrock (Chapman, USA): Toward an Actual Theory of the City: “Civic Tech” as a Mid-Level, Organic Model of Urban Change

Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon & Elizabeth Christoforetti (Emerson, USA): Participatory Urban Sensing: a Blueprint for a Community-led Smart City

Sung-Yueh Perng (Maynooth): Civic technology, social innovation and the reshaping of smart cities

CFP: Slow computing: A workshop on resistance in the algorithmic age

Call for Papers

One-day workshop, Maynooth University, Ireland, December 14th, 2017

 Hosted by the Programmable City project at Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and the Department of Geography

In line with the parallel concepts of slow food (e.g. Miele & Murdoch 2002) or slow scholarship (Mountz et al 2015), ‘slow computing’ (Fraser 2017) is a provocation to resist. In this case, the idea of ‘slow computing’ prompts users of contemporary technologies to consider ways of refusing the invitation to enroll in data grabbing architectures – constituted in complex overlapping ways by today’s technology services and devices – and by accepting greater levels of inconvenience while also pursuing data security, privacy, and even a degree of isolation from the online worlds of social networks.

The case for slow computing arises from the emerging form and nature of ‘the algorithmic age.’ As is widely noted across the sciences today (e.g. see Boyd & Crawford 2012; Kitchin 2014), the algorithmic age is propelled forward by a wide range of firms and government agencies pursuing the roll-out of data-driven and data-demanding technologies. The effects are varied, differentiated, and heavily debated. However, one obvious effect entails the re-formatting of consumers into data producers who (knowingly or unwittingly) generate millions of data points that technology firms can crunch and manipulate to understand specific markets and society as a whole, not to mention the public and private lives of everyday users. Once these users are dispossessed of the value they help create (Thatcher et al 2016), and then conceivably targeted in nefarious ways by advertisers and political campaigners (e.g. see Winston 2016), the subsequent implications for economic and democratic life are potentially far-reaching.

As such, as we move further into a world of ‘big data’ and the so-called ‘digital economy,’ there is a need to ask how individuals – as well as civil society organizations, small firms, small-scale farmers, and many others – might continue to make appropriate and fruitful use of today’s technologies, but while also trying to avoid becoming another data point in the new data-aggregating market. Does slow computing offer a way to navigate the algorithmic age while taking justice seriously? Can slow computing become a part of diverse strategies or tactics of resistance today? Just what are the possibilities and limitations of slow computing?

This one-day workshop invites participation from scholars, practitioners, artists and others who might be exploring these, or other related questions, about slow computing. Papers might contain explorations of:

  • Slow computing practices (whether using auto-ethnography, ethnography, or other qualitative or quantitative methodologies);
  • How slow computing technologies could be designed for private or public institutions;
  • The challenges facing actors who try to unplug, shield, or silo data or other products of social life from the digital economy;
  • The socio-political possibilities emerging from efforts to avoid data-grabbing architectures;
  • Efforts to raise awareness about the privacy implications of contemporary data-grabbing technologies.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof. Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam

Those interested in participating should send a proposed title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Dr. Alistair Fraser – alistair.fraser@mu.ie – by September 29th 2017. Informal enquiries about the workshop can also be sent to the co-organizer, Prof. Rob Kitchin: rob.kitchin@mu.ie

Works cited:

Boyd, D. and Crawford, K. 2012. Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878

Fraser, A. 2017. Land Grab / Data Grab. SocArXiv. May 19. osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/9utyh.

Kitchin, R. 2014. Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big Data & Society. doi:10.1177/2053951714528481

Miele, M. and Murdoch, J., 2002. The practical aesthetics of traditional cuisines: slow food in Tuscany. Sociologia Ruralis, 42(4), pp.312-328. doi: 10.1111/1467-9523.00219

Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., Basu, R., Whitson, R., Hawkins, R., Hamilton, T. and Curran, W., 2015. For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), pp.1235-1259.

Thatcher. J., O’Sullivan, D., and Mahmoudi, D. 2016. ‘Data Colonialism through accumulation by dispossession: New metaphors for daily data. Environment & Planning D: Society & Space 34: 990-1006. doi: 10.1177/0263775816633195

Winston, J. 2016. How the Trump campaign built an identity database and used facebook ads to win the election. Startup Grind, Nov 18.

Seminar: Urban Data and Media Art

The Building City Dashboards project is hosting a seminar titled ‘Urban Data and Media Art’, 11.00-13.00, Monday August 28th, in Maynooth University.  The seminar will explore existing and potential modes and methodologies of creative data visualisation both of and in the city. Sign up to attend at: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/urban-data-and-media-art-tickets-37239904557

Timetable:

11:00 Welcome Prof. Rob Kitchin & Prof. Chris Brunsdon.
11:05 Dr. Maria Mencia, media artist/e-poet, practice-based researcher, School of Performance and Screen Studies, Kingston University
11:30 Dr. Marcos Dias, Lecturer, Media Studies, Maynooth University
11:55 Camille Donegan, VR Consultant
12.20 Questions and Discussions (Chair: Dr. Gareth Young).
13:05 Lunch (sandwiches in the NCG common room).
14:00 Optional: BCD Project Showcase
- A chance for people to engage with and critically discuss BCD Beta Website, VR, and AR platforms.

urban data

Ulysses workshop, Session 3: Reshaping research and approaches in data driven and experimental urbanism

[We are happy to share the second set of videos of the Session 3 "Reshaping research and approaches in data driven and experimental urbanism" from the recent workshop "Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments". The introduction, session 1 and session 2 are also available]

Reflexivity in engaged research (Liam Heaphy)

Research on smart city programmes, where cities are actively seeking to show themselves as engaged and innovative, implies a relationship with a range of supporting institutions and companies, including universities and the spin-off enterprises which they originate. The adoption of triple and quadruple helix models of science is actively supported by funders at the national or federal scale, and researchers are co-opted into smart city projects in both an official capacity and as external advisors. In the case of our research, we influence smart city discourse through developing key concepts, engagement process, and providing a reflective perspective back to our cities. This presentation considers how we deal with reflexivity in academia, and its bearing on future research.

Investigating city experiments (Brice Laurent & David Pontille)

Acknowledgement

We are grateful to the IRC, Ambassade de France in Ireland and the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute for their generous support and for making possible this event.