Tag Archives: smart citizens

New paper on frictions in civic hacking

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.

Working paper – Crafting code: Gender, coding and spatial hybridity in the events of Pyladies Dublin

A working paper by Sophia Maalsen and Sung-Yueh Perng on the subjectivity and spatiality of coding, prepared for Craft Economies: Cultural Economies of the Handmade, edited by Susan Luckman and Nicola Thomas, is available to view.

In the paper, we look at the integration of the digital and the resurgent interest in crafting artefacts. We do this by focusing on the work, relationships and spaces occupied by Pyladies Dublin – a coding group intended for women to learn and ‘craft’ code in the programming language of Python. Pyladies offers an interesting and fruitful case study as it intersects gender, relations of making and places of making, nested firmly within the digital world. The relations of making within the Pyladies group provides salient insight into the production of code, gender and space. Pyladies is predominantly attended by women with the focus to encourage women to become more active members and leaders of the Python community. By producing code in a friendly space, the group also actively works towards producing coding subjectivities and hybrid, mobile spatiality, seeking to produce coding and technology culture that is diverse and gender equitable. We base our ethnographic study to suggest ways in which Pyladies Dublin is consistently engaging in crafting code and crafting coding subjectivity and spatiality.

We thank the generosity of PyLadies Dublin for accommodating us and engaging in very productive conversation in the process.

Sophia and Sung-Yueh

Working paper: The spaces, mobilities and soundings of coding

A short paper has been developed as a pre-print for a chapter in an exciting book Experiencing Networked Urban Mobilities, edited by Katrine Hartmann-Petersen, Emmy Laura Perez Fjalland and Malene Freudendal-Pedersen.

The paper is concerned with embodied experiences, focusing on sounds, of interacting with code and discusses what happened in an introductory workshop to the programming language, Processing, organised by Coding Grace as an example. The paper demonstrates the complexity of organising one’s own experiences according to the logic and reasoning of a specific programming language. I was in the workshop, and the tutor, Stephen Howell, who is the Academic Engagement Manager at Microsoft Ireland, did a fantastic job explaining the code and navigating the participants through the problems they had. The workshop was well-paced, and Stephen planned ahead to ensure everyone could follow the instructions. Therefore, the difficulties that still emerged when participants engaged with the code tell something more than pedagogical styles or approaches. For example, writing code or setting parameters are much more contingent in civic hacking events. Decisions have to be made with partial or limited information, skill sets contingent upon the participants of the day, with time and resources constraints, without knowing fully about the individuals or organisations that can be affected, etc. Some of these issues are discussed in another working paper on the frictions and strategies in civic hacking (paper is here). Further, there are also the issues concerning who these programmers are; how they perceive themselves in relation to their skills and genders; how they organise communities and spaces to support themselves? These are something that Sophia Maalsen and I continue to work on and to share with you again soon.

Have a look at the paper here if interested, and let me know what you think!


Reflecting upon hackathons by their participants

Thomas James Lodato and Carl DiSalvo give a good overview of what hackathons are in their recent article:

Hackathons are rapid design and development events at which volunteer participants come together to conceptualize, prototype, and make (mostly digital) products and services.

Coupling with the rapid pace of conceptualising a product or service, prototyping and making do with limited time and resources during the event, is the competition with other teams for the prizes, ranging from cash rewards to a spot in an incubator programme that could potentially transform the initial idea at a hackathon into a startup success.

We often see coverage of the winning teams, their ideas and sometimes their presentations before the judging panel. However, we do not necessarily know how participants reflect upon their own experiences, problems they encounter along the way and adjustments to their goals and strategies under time pressure.

In this blogpost, we try to give a glimpse of these aspects by asking participants how and what they did in the Global Data Fest/Smart City Hackathon which took place in Dublin between 6 – 8 March, 2015. The videos were taken before the teams presented their ideas to the judges, which means they did not know who were going to win and thus the conversation was not about their ‘winning experiences’. Instead, the videos are about how they took into account of all sorts of challenges and the advice they received from the mentors to finish their project. In doing so, we also wish to create cultural memory for the participants and for one the various pursuits of transforming Dublin into a smart city.

Here they are!

Project: Life Tracking

Project: EmuLUX

Project: CityBuzz

Project: BikeRack

Project: Bintel

Project: BedCount

We thank the participants and also David Prendergast from Intel, who also gave a talk for our seminar series, for making the videos happen.


Seminar reminder: Citizens, Data, Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things

Welcome back!

After the Launch event earlier this week, we are really happy to have Dr Andy Hudson-Smith to discussion Citizens, Data, Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things! Please see the details of our next seminar below.

Time: 16:00 – 18:00, Wednesday, 2 April, 2014
Venue: Room 2.31, 2nd Floor Iontas Building, North Campus NUI Maynooth (Map)

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few (IBM, 2103). This data can, compared to traditional data sources, be defined as ‘big’. Cities and urban environments are the main sources for big data, every minute 100,000 tweets are sent globally, Google receives 2,000,000 search requests and users share 684,478 pieces of content on Facebook (Mashable, 2012). An increasingly amount of this data stream is geolocated, from Check-ins via Foursquare through to Tweets and searches via Google Now, the data cities and individuals emit can be collected and viewed to make the data city visible, aiding our understanding of now only how urban systems operate but opening up the possibility of a real-time view of the city at large (Hudson-Smith, 2013). The talk explores systems such as The City Dashboard (http://www.citydashboard.org) and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in terms of data collection, visualization and analysis. Joining these up creates a move towards the Smart City and via innovations in IoT a look towards augmented reality pointing towards the the creation of a ‘Smart Citizen’, ‘the Quantified Self’ and ultimately a Smart City.

IBM (2103), Big Data at the Speed of Business, http://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/
Mashable (2012), How Much Data is Created Every Minute, http://mashable.com/2012/06/22/data-created-every-minute/
Hudson-Smith (2013) – Tagging and Tracking, Architectural Design, 01, 2014, High Definition, Zero Tolerance in Design and Production.

Speaker bio
Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith is Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at The Bartlett, University College London. Andy is a Reader in Digital Urban Systems and Editor-in-Chief of Future Internet Journal, he is also an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Greater London Authority Smart London Board and Course Founder of the MRes in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation and MSc in Smart Cities at University College London.