andrewlb notes

Against the Smart City

Against the Smart City

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • Out of all the potentials our moment might give rise to, and all the modes in which we might choose to use networked information technology in our cities, the narrative of the smart city as it is currently being articulated and advanced to us represents some of the least interesting and the most problematic. (Location 69)
  • Korean New Songdo, Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, and a curious settlement in Portugal called PlanIT Valley. These are putatively urban-scale environments designed from the ground up with information-processing capabilities embedded in the objects, surfaces, spaces and interactions that between them comprise everyday life. (Location 76)
  • It’s as if someone took Minority Report as a shopping catalogue or a punch list rather than a vision of dystopia, and set the results on a few thousand acres of reclaimed mudflat lying just offshore. (Location 90)
  • we find the collection and analysis of data enshrined at the heart of someone's conception of municipal stewardship. (Location 125)
  • The overarching goal remains the same: the centralized capture of the soundings produced by all of a city’s connected devices and the application of advanced analytic techniques to the enormous volume of data that results. (Location 129)
  • The final intent of all this computational scrutiny, we are told, is to make every unfolding process of the city visible to those charged with its management; to render the previously opaque or indeterminate not merely knowable but actionable; and ultimately, to permit the “optimization” of all the flows of matter, energy and information that constitute a great urban place. (Location 131)
  • The most prominent parties involved in this work include the IBM Corporation of Armonk, New York; San Jose’s Cisco Systems; and Munich-based Siemens AG. (Location 159)
  • second tier of activity, populated by concerns like Samsung, Intel, Philips and Hitachi. (Location 166)
  • It's as if the foundational works of twentieth-century urbanist thought had been collectively authored by United States Steel, General Motors, the Otis Elevator Company and Bell Telephone22 rather than Le Corbusier or Jane Jacobs. (Location 177)
  • This language is interesting in its relatively tight focus on building-level systems; the primary innovation here appears to be the coupling of each building with a citywide meshwork of managed flows. (Location 215)
  • But I believe that we need to take responsibility for the language we choose to describe and discuss the work we do, and, all too often, it is language that masks the body of assumptions we bring to a given task. (Location 243)
  • Any-space-whatever is uninflected, unmarked by history. (Location 263)
  • As Deleuze defines it, any-space-whatever is never important for any quality of its own but only for the connections it facilitates or brings into being. (Location 267)
  • technical systems are always given meaning by being situated in a specific locale and human context. (Location 291)
  • Interaction designer Matt Jones relays the lovely anecdote of the team of traceurs, practitioners of the art of parkour, flown from Paris to London to film a commercial, who spent two days’ preparation simply wandering the streets, wedging feet between curb and sidewalk, sidewalk and lamppost, bus shelter and building wall. (Location 294)
  • If a city can even be said to have any such quality as intelligence to begin with, that intelligence is bound to be singular, something that subsists in the unique lifeways, cultures and pragmatic local adaptations that have evolved in a particular place. It takes time for these circumstances to arise, and still more for them to bed in: years, at least, and more probably decades. This prolonged gestation makes intelligence or anything like it a quality most unlikely to take root in the inhospitable ground of Masdar or Songdo or PlanIT Valley until and unless they leave the curious grey nontime of the any-space-whatever behind, and are permitted to rejoin the onrushing stream of history already in progress. (Location 326)
  • Setting this vision in a time so far distant — at the outermost limit of anything we might fairly describe as “proximate,” in the sense that Bell and Dourish mean the term — is an elegant way of dodging accountability for the frankly incredible assertions being made and, more generally, for any failure of the overall smart-city vision to come true. (Location 362)
  • But the higher up the stack you go, the closer to the end user you get, the more the differences in the provenance and design of the systems involved matter. (Location 411)
  • What do exist in the world are specific deployments of components from specific vendors, laminated together as particular propositions, and each of these may differ profoundly from other, similar propositions, along all of the axes that condition human interaction with them. (Location 413)
  • only by proposing to install generic technologies on generic landscapes in a generic future can advocates avoid running afoul of the knotty complexities that crop up immediately any time actual technologies are deployed in existing places. (Location 430)
  • What we encounter in this statement is an unreconstructed logical positivism, which, among other things, implicitly holds that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a technical system, without bias or distortion. (Location 442)
  • — Perfectly knowable, without bias or distortion: Collectively, we’ve known since Heisenberg that to observe the behavior of a system is to intervene in it. (Location 449)
  • However thoroughly Siemens may deploy their sensors, to start with, they’ll only ever capture the qualities about the world that are amenable to capture, measure only those quantities that can be measured. (Location 459)
  • This mystification of “the data” goes unremarked upon and unchallenged not merely in IBM’s material but in the overwhelming majority of discussions of the smart city. (Location 482)
  • We should know by now that there are and can be no66 Pareto-optimal solutions for any system as complex as a city. (Location 498)
  • Jay Forrester’s 1969 Urban Dynamics (Location 505)
  • lines. The output generated by such a procedure may turn on half-clever abstractions, in which a complex circumstance resistant to direct measurement is represented by the manipulation of some more easily determined proxy value: average walking speed stands in for the more inchoate “pace” of urban life, while the number of patent applications constitutes an index of “innovation.” (Location 514)
  • The best-documented example of this tendency remains the work of the New York City-RAND Institute, explicitly chartered to implant in the governance of New York City “the kind of streamlined, modern management that Robert McNamara applied in the Pentagon with such success70” during his tenure as Secretary of Defense (1961-1968). (Location 526)
  • For all of the conceptual flaws we’ve identified in the Siemens proposition, though, it’s the word “goal” that just leaps off the page. In all my thinking about cities, it has frankly never occurred to me to assert that cities have goals. (Location 550)
  • The arguments in support of the more radical provisions of free licensure, by contrast, are generally moral in tenor, and explicitly uphold the value of sharing and cooperation as socially beneficial in and of themselves76. (Location 586)
  • For a body of thought that’s theoretically all about the benefits that accrue when networked information technology is deployed in our cities, in fact, it’s positively weird how rarely these visions invoke the one piece of networked information technology that citydwellers all over the planet already have ready to hand. (Location 643)
  • Overspecification is hubris and brittleness. It is to imply that the designer can anticipate at inception all the potential uses to which the things they create might be put, down through the long future. And it is to set in concrete (in some cases, quite literally) relations that ought to remain supple and fluid. (Location 648)
  • Why make residents travel half an hour to the Services Core simply to fulfill basic daily needs, when a well-sited bodega or cornershop or even a cart would do just as well? (Location 682)
  • the problem with overspecification is simply that it leads to a curiously static conception of the future: once we get there, we stay there. (Location 685)
  • So when this description characterizes the essence of the smart city as “the seamless integration of public and private services91 delivered across a common network infrastructure,” we might want to ask what is being implied by that word “seamless,” and what purpose is served by its inclusion. (Location 692)
    • Note: good to crt so to coopt
  • “seamless” means that the user perceives no interruption in the flow of a technically mediated experience, even though that experience may be produced by the interaction of heterogeneous systems. (Location 699)
  • By obscuring the meaningful distinctions between the two, the “seamless integration of public and private services” makes it very difficult for any of us to determine which set of actors is able to operate more effectively on our own behalf, which effects changes we would wish to see sustained and which is more responsive to our demands. (Location 738)
  • As the artist James Bridle puts it, "Those who cannot perceive the network cannot act effectively within it, and are powerless100." (Location 743)
  • Positioning efficiency as the only index of value available to us overlooks the many simple pleasures afforded by city life that would be utterly unimproved by any optimization, and might well be destroyed in the attempt. (Location 780)
  • if nothing else, we should never forget to ask: optimized toward what end and for whose benefit? (Location 823)

public: true

title: Against the Smart City longtitle: Against the Smart City author: Adam Greenfield e Nurri Kim url: , source: kindle last_highlight: 2015-12-16 type: books tags:

Against the Smart City

rw-book-cover

Metadata

Highlights

  • Out of all the potentials our moment might give rise to, and all the modes in which we might choose to use networked information technology in our cities, the narrative of the smart city as it is currently being articulated and advanced to us represents some of the least interesting and the most problematic. (Location 69)
  • Korean New Songdo, Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, and a curious settlement in Portugal called PlanIT Valley. These are putatively urban-scale environments designed from the ground up with information-processing capabilities embedded in the objects, surfaces, spaces and interactions that between them comprise everyday life. (Location 76)
  • It’s as if someone took Minority Report as a shopping catalogue or a punch list rather than a vision of dystopia, and set the results on a few thousand acres of reclaimed mudflat lying just offshore. (Location 90)
  • we find the collection and analysis of data enshrined at the heart of someone's conception of municipal stewardship. (Location 125)
  • The overarching goal remains the same: the centralized capture of the soundings produced by all of a city’s connected devices and the application of advanced analytic techniques to the enormous volume of data that results. (Location 129)
  • The final intent of all this computational scrutiny, we are told, is to make every unfolding process of the city visible to those charged with its management; to render the previously opaque or indeterminate not merely knowable but actionable; and ultimately, to permit the “optimization” of all the flows of matter, energy and information that constitute a great urban place. (Location 131)
  • The most prominent parties involved in this work include the IBM Corporation of Armonk, New York; San Jose’s Cisco Systems; and Munich-based Siemens AG. (Location 159)
  • second tier of activity, populated by concerns like Samsung, Intel, Philips and Hitachi. (Location 166)
  • It's as if the foundational works of twentieth-century urbanist thought had been collectively authored by United States Steel, General Motors, the Otis Elevator Company and Bell Telephone22 rather than Le Corbusier or Jane Jacobs. (Location 177)
  • This language is interesting in its relatively tight focus on building-level systems; the primary innovation here appears to be the coupling of each building with a citywide meshwork of managed flows. (Location 215)
  • But I believe that we need to take responsibility for the language we choose to describe and discuss the work we do, and, all too often, it is language that masks the body of assumptions we bring to a given task. (Location 243)
  • Any-space-whatever is uninflected, unmarked by history. (Location 263)
  • As Deleuze defines it, any-space-whatever is never important for any quality of its own but only for the connections it facilitates or brings into being. (Location 267)
  • technical systems are always given meaning by being situated in a specific locale and human context. (Location 291)
  • Interaction designer Matt Jones relays the lovely anecdote of the team of traceurs, practitioners of the art of parkour, flown from Paris to London to film a commercial, who spent two days’ preparation simply wandering the streets, wedging feet between curb and sidewalk, sidewalk and lamppost, bus shelter and building wall. (Location 294)
  • If a city can even be said to have any such quality as intelligence to begin with, that intelligence is bound to be singular, something that subsists in the unique lifeways, cultures and pragmatic local adaptations that have evolved in a particular place. It takes time for these circumstances to arise, and still more for them to bed in: years, at least, and more probably decades. This prolonged gestation makes intelligence or anything like it a quality most unlikely to take root in the inhospitable ground of Masdar or Songdo or PlanIT Valley until and unless they leave the curious grey nontime of the any-space-whatever behind, and are permitted to rejoin the onrushing stream of history already in progress. (Location 326)
  • Setting this vision in a time so far distant — at the outermost limit of anything we might fairly describe as “proximate,” in the sense that Bell and Dourish mean the term — is an elegant way of dodging accountability for the frankly incredible assertions being made and, more generally, for any failure of the overall smart-city vision to come true. (Location 362)
  • But the higher up the stack you go, the closer to the end user you get, the more the differences in the provenance and design of the systems involved matter. (Location 411)
  • What do exist in the world are specific deployments of components from specific vendors, laminated together as particular propositions, and each of these may differ profoundly from other, similar propositions, along all of the axes that condition human interaction with them. (Location 413)
  • only by proposing to install generic technologies on generic landscapes in a generic future can advocates avoid running afoul of the knotty complexities that crop up immediately any time actual technologies are deployed in existing places. (Location 430)
  • What we encounter in this statement is an unreconstructed logical positivism, which, among other things, implicitly holds that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a technical system, without bias or distortion. (Location 442)
  • — Perfectly knowable, without bias or distortion: Collectively, we’ve known since Heisenberg that to observe the behavior of a system is to intervene in it. (Location 449)
  • However thoroughly Siemens may deploy their sensors, to start with, they’ll only ever capture the qualities about the world that are amenable to capture, measure only those quantities that can be measured. (Location 459)
  • This mystification of “the data” goes unremarked upon and unchallenged not merely in IBM’s material but in the overwhelming majority of discussions of the smart city. (Location 482)
  • We should know by now that there are and can be no66 Pareto-optimal solutions for any system as complex as a city. (Location 498)
  • Jay Forrester’s 1969 Urban Dynamics (Location 505)
  • lines. The output generated by such a procedure may turn on half-clever abstractions, in which a complex circumstance resistant to direct measurement is represented by the manipulation of some more easily determined proxy value: average walking speed stands in for the more inchoate “pace” of urban life, while the number of patent applications constitutes an index of “innovation.” (Location 514)
  • The best-documented example of this tendency remains the work of the New York City-RAND Institute, explicitly chartered to implant in the governance of New York City “the kind of streamlined, modern management that Robert McNamara applied in the Pentagon with such success70” during his tenure as Secretary of Defense (1961-1968). (Location 526)
  • For all of the conceptual flaws we’ve identified in the Siemens proposition, though, it’s the word “goal” that just leaps off the page. In all my thinking about cities, it has frankly never occurred to me to assert that cities have goals. (Location 550)
  • The arguments in support of the more radical provisions of free licensure, by contrast, are generally moral in tenor, and explicitly uphold the value of sharing and cooperation as socially beneficial in and of themselves76. (Location 586)
  • For a body of thought that’s theoretically all about the benefits that accrue when networked information technology is deployed in our cities, in fact, it’s positively weird how rarely these visions invoke the one piece of networked information technology that citydwellers all over the planet already have ready to hand. (Location 643)
  • Overspecification is hubris and brittleness. It is to imply that the designer can anticipate at inception all the potential uses to which the things they create might be put, down through the long future. And it is to set in concrete (in some cases, quite literally) relations that ought to remain supple and fluid. (Location 648)
  • Why make residents travel half an hour to the Services Core simply to fulfill basic daily needs, when a well-sited bodega or cornershop or even a cart would do just as well? (Location 682)
  • the problem with overspecification is simply that it leads to a curiously static conception of the future: once we get there, we stay there. (Location 685)
  • So when this description characterizes the essence of the smart city as “the seamless integration of public and private services91 delivered across a common network infrastructure,” we might want to ask what is being implied by that word “seamless,” and what purpose is served by its inclusion. (Location 692)
    • Note: good to crt so to coopt
  • “seamless” means that the user perceives no interruption in the flow of a technically mediated experience, even though that experience may be produced by the interaction of heterogeneous systems. (Location 699)
  • By obscuring the meaningful distinctions between the two, the “seamless integration of public and private services” makes it very difficult for any of us to determine which set of actors is able to operate more effectively on our own behalf, which effects changes we would wish to see sustained and which is more responsive to our demands. (Location 738)
  • As the artist James Bridle puts it, "Those who cannot perceive the network cannot act effectively within it, and are powerless100." (Location 743)
  • Positioning efficiency as the only index of value available to us overlooks the many simple pleasures afforded by city life that would be utterly unimproved by any optimization, and might well be destroyed in the attempt. (Location 780)
  • if nothing else, we should never forget to ask: optimized toward what end and for whose benefit? (Location 823)