Urban Interface Policy

As the city becomes the site of dynamic systems that can provide services and transform environments in public space, it is imperative that we consider carefully the ethics and politics of these infrastructures.  In the smart city, what is written as programmatic software ‘code’ can easily become defacto ‘law’ as it imposes permissioning schemes and identity regimes on it’s participants.  So far, the internet, and the open source software that powers much of it, has remained remarkably adaptable to the ideals of democratic and egalitarian societies.  Every infrastructural advance, however, goes through a watershed moment where the governing design principles of the technology itself begin to influence the types of societal experiences they might produce.  We need to attempt to understand the cultural ramifications of such infrastructural design decisions in this context.


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  1. AG says:

    So far, the internet, and the open source software that powers much of it, has remained remarkably adaptable to the ideals of democratic and egalitarian societies. Every infrastructural advance, however, goes through a watershed moment where the governing design principles of the technology itself begin to influence the types of societal experiences they might produce.

    In this regard, you should see Rebecca MacKinnon’s forthcoming work on the Chinese government’s interest in IPv6. It’s pretty hair-raising stuff – basically they’ve taken all the conjectural material about differential permissioning and ubiquitous surveillance in Everyware and used it as a punch list when they went talking to IT vendors.

  2. [...] Responsive Environments – the environment starts to know what is going on. “What are the mechanisms by which these services are provisioned by the tasks that citizens utilize them for?” [...]

  3. [...] Urban Interface Policy – VURB – "In the smart city, what is written as programmatic software ‘code’ can easily become defacto ‘law’ as it imposes permissioning schemes and identity regimes on it’s participants. So far, the internet, and the open source software that powers much of it, has remained remarkably adaptable to the ideals of democratic and egalitarian societies. Every infrastructural advance, however, goes through a watershed moment where the governing design principles of the technology itself begin to influence the types of societal experiences they might produce. We need to attempt to understand the cultural ramifications of such infrastructural design decisions in this context" [...]

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