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.
Liam Heaphy has published a new Progcity working paper (37) – Interfaces and divisions in the Dublin Docklands ‘Smart District’.
The study of physical and social divisions in divided societies has long been an area of study, such as the continued usage of ‘peace walls’ in Belfast, hostile architecture to prevent anti-social behaviour and rough sleeping, and the securitisation of private spaces. In the context of a new drive to create a smart district, this paper looks at the relationship between smart urbanism and planning, and at the spatial and social divisions between a new ‘gentrifying’ and well-educated community in the Dublin Docklands and established communities in the area. The Dublin Docklands redevelopment marks a significant break from a pattern of suburbanisation and inner-city decline and repurposes part of the former port area as a city centre extension. The paper accounts for the reshaping of the Dublin Docklands as a ‘smart district’ in collaboration with the city authorities, based on over thirty semi-structured interviews and participant-observation at consultation events. It argues that reductive definitions of smart cities as networking technologies be reworked into broader considerations on urban technologies and the future of cities, with greater emphasis on the relationship between technologies branded as ‘smart’ and the material and digital manifestation of boundaries in urban form.
Keywords: smart urbanism, smart cities, ports, planning, technology, urban design, interfaces, boundaries
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!
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.