New Progcity collaboration has been published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers! Sung-Yueh Perng and Sophia Maalsen ask how we can make sense of the appropriation of the corporate city in the paper entitled Civic infrastructure and the appropriation of the corporate smart city.
Have a look at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24694452.2019.1674629. If you do not have institutional subscription, free copies can be downloaded from: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/NGSGJHRPDVMQX6X7YXEM/full?target=10.1080/24694452.2019.1674629
Concerns have been raised regarding smart city innovations leading to, or consolidating, technocratic urban governance and the tokenization of citizens. Less research, however, has explored how we make sense of ongoing appropriation of the resources, skills, and expertise of corporate smart cities and what this means for future cities. In this article, we examine the summoning of political subjectivity through the practices of retrofitting, repurposing, and reinvigorating. We consider them as civic infrastructure to sensitize the infrastructural acts and conventions that are assembled for exploring inclusive and participatory ways of shaping urban futures. These practices, illustrated by examples in Adelaide, Dublin, and Boston, focus on capabilities not only to write code, access data, or design a prototype but also to devise diverse sociotechnical arrangements and power relations to disobey, question, and dissent from technocratic visions and practices. The article concludes by suggesting further examination of the summoning of political subjectivity from within established institutions to widen dissent and appropriation of the corporate smart city.
Key Words: citizen, infrastructure, political subjectivity, smart city, urban future.
Sung-Yueh Perng has a new paper published in the journal Mobilites, titled: Anticipating digital futures: ruins, entanglements and the possibilities of shared technology making, doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2019.1594867
Contrary to the corporate production of digital cities, shared technology making explores ways of innovation that are open to all, informed by diverse knowledges, and led by citizens. However, this exploration faces corporate translation of ethical and societal values for capital accumulation and concerns around the right to participate. Building on Tsing’s concept of ‘ruins’, this paper considers the anticipation of digital futures while the neoliberal ruination of shared technology making is in full swing. The paper examines the entanglements in hackathon rationalities and practices and demonstrates that the possibilities of shared technology making emerge from disrupting technocratic visions and repurposing corporate innovation resources and techniques. Drawing on the analysis, the paper argues that these entanglements are crucial to digital futures. They disclose in concrete ways how neoliberal co-optation can be disturbed and transformed. Equally importantly, they urge continuous explorations to assemble diverse practices and values for building momentum towards sustained processes of shaping desirable futures.
A new Programmable City working paper (No. 38) has been published by Sung-Yueh Perng and is entitled ‘Shared technology making in neoliberal ruins: Rationalities, practices and possibilities of hackathons‘.
Shared technology making refers to the practices, spaces and events that bear the hope and belief that collaborative and open ways of designing, making and modifying technology can improve our ways of living. Shared technology making in the context of the smart city reinvigorates explorations of the possibility of free, open and collaborative ways of engineering urban spaces, infrastructures and public life. Open innovation events and civic hacking initiatives often encourage members of local communities, residents, or city administrations to participate so that the problems they face and the knowledge they possess can be leveraged to develop innovations from the working (and failure) of urban everyday life and (non-)expert knowledges. However, the incorporation of shared technology making into urban contexts engender concerns around the right to participate in shared technology- and city-making. This paper addresses this issue by suggesting ways to consider both the neoliberal patterning of shared technology making and the patches and gaps that show the future possibility of shared city making. It explores the ways in which shared technology making are organised using hackathons and other hacking initiatives as an example. By providing a hackathon typology and detailed accounts of the experiences of organisers and participants of related events, the paper reconsiders the neoliberalisation of shared technology making. It attends to the multiple, entangled and conflictual relationships that do not follow corporate logic for considering the possibilities of more open and collaborative ways of technology- and city-making.
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.
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
Paolo Cardullo and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper: ‘Living Labs, vacancy, and gentrification‘ on SocArXiv. It was prepared for the ‘The New Urban Ruins: Vacancy and the Post-Crisis City’ workshop, 1-3 March 2017, Trinity College Dublin.
This paper evaluates smart city (SC) initiatives in the context of re-using vacant property. More specifically, we focus on living labs (LL) and vacancy in general, as well as on their potential role in fostering creative economy-fuelled gentrification. LL utilise Lo-Fi technologies to foster local digital innovation and support community-focused civic hacking, running various kinds of workshops and engaging with local citizens to co-create digital interventions and apps aimed at ‘solving’ local issues. Five approaches to LL are outlined and discussed in relation to vacancy and gentrification: pop-up initiatives, university-led activities, community organised venues/activities, citizen sensing and crowdsourcing, and tech-led regeneration initiatives. Notwithstanding the potential for generating temporary and independent spaces for transferring and fostering digital competences and increasing citizens’ participation in the SC, we argue that LL largely foster a form of participation framed within a model of civic stewardship for ‘smart citizens’. While presented as horizontal, open, and participative, LL and civic hacking are often rooted in pragmatic and paternalistic discourses and practices related to the production of a creative economy and a specific version of SC. As such, by encouraging a particular kind of re-use of vacant space, LL potentially contributes to gentrification pressures within locales by attracting the creative classes and new investment. We discuss these approaches and issues generally and with respect to examples in Dublin, Ireland.
Key words: vacancy, property, gentrification, living labs, civic hacking, creative class, regeneration
Download the paper
Drawing on postcolonial technoscience and particularly the notion of ‘frictions’, Sung-Yueh Perng and Rob Kitchin analyse how solutions are worked up, challenged and changed in civic hacking events. The paper is published in Social & Cultural Geography and is entitled Solutions and frictions in civic hacking: collaboratively designing and building wait time predictions for an immigration office. There are still eprints available for free via the link: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/SSWBCcCech3hezdgIFZp/full. For more details about the paper, the abstract is pasted below.
Abstract: Smart and data-driven technologies seek to create urban environments and systems that can operate efficiently and effortlessly. Yet, the design and implementation of such technical solutions are full of frictions, producing unanticipated consequences and generating turbulence that foreclose the creation of friction-free city solutions. In this paper, we examine the development of solutions for wait time predictions in the context of civic hacking to argue that a focus on frictions is important for establishing a critical understanding of innovation for urban everyday life. The empirical study adopted an ethnographically informed mobile methods approach to follow how frictions emerge and linger in the design and production of queue predictions developed through the civic hacking initiative, Code for Ireland. In so doing, the paper charts how solutions have to be worked up and strategies re-negotiated when a shared motivation meets different data sources, technical expertise, frames of understanding, urban imaginaries and organisational practices; and how solutions are contingently stabilised in technological, motivational, spatiotemporal and organisational specificities rather than unfolding in a smooth, linear, progressive trajectory.