Ulysses Workshop, Session 2: Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments II

[We are happy to share the second set of videos from the Session 2 “Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments II” of the recent workshop Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments“. The introduction, session 1 and session 3 are also available]

Unpacking hacking events and techniques (Sung-Yueh Perng)

Hackathons have become important features in smart cities and in the continuous experimentation of alternative forms of innovation. They are adopted by multinational corporations and also by civic initiatives to produce prototypes that meet the demands of diverse domains. In the processes of meeting these different demands, hackathons become diversified not simply in terms of the themes of the events and the projects and prototypes being developed. The locations and the organisations of the events also become more diversified, responding to the specificities of the challenges that these hacking events propose to tackle. This talk presents early findings of the unpacking of the where and how of hackathons organisations. The data about the hackathons analysed in the presentation are collected from using Eventbrite API and methodological issues arising from the use of Eventbrite API as data collection method are discussed. The presentation also suggests several ways through which the organisations of hackathons respond to different economic, business and social motivations for creating prototypes at these events.


Internet is at the corner: Experiencing and making sense of data centers in Paris northern suburb (Clément Marquet)

It is remarkable that the few studies in social studies that have dealt with data centers infrastructures were noticing their proliferations in the cities and wondering whether urban policies are developed in order to attract or discourage their implantation (Evans-Cowley, Malecki, McIntee, 2003, Annaker, Evans-Cowley, 2005). Indeed, beyond (or before) raising energetic concerns, data centers are land users. As such, they raise specific questions concerning cities governments. And, despite the promotions of data centers in ancient missile silo or Finland’s fjords by the main actors of the cloud (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) most of the companies dealing with data storage and internet services are building data centers around metropolis and cities. Recently, french geographers have studied this phenomenon, recalling that, classically wtworks systems tend towards aggregation and concentration rather than dispersion. Indeed, data centers are quite constrained in their implantation by at least for factors (Moriset, 2003, Dupuy, 2004, Bakis, 2014) :
– Disponibility of cheap land
– Proximity of a powerful electrical network
– Proximity of telecom networks and mainly optic fiber
– Absence of major geographic risks (such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, tornados or military).
For these reasons, I believe it is interesting to pay attention to the conditions of their territorial implantation and study how those infrastructures deal with various local specificities, and, in return, what do they do to the city, to the area they chose for implantations ? As previous works give us a few insight, energetic consumption or land use policy could locally be affected by their arrival, and thus triggering disputes and reordering of local arrangements. To tackle these questions, I will draw on field observations and interviews done between 2015 and now, most of them in a close suburb of Paris. This suburb, named Plaine Commune, has labelled itself French capital of data centers.


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.

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  1. Pingback: Ulysses Workshop, Session 1: Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments I | The Programmable City

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