re: an “anthropology of infrastructure”

Cultural Anthropology published Commentary from Nikhil Anand, Johnathan Bach, Julia Elyachar, and Daniel Mains.

There Nikhil Anand related, “I have found it helpful to think about infrastructure as a social-material assemblage; a process of making relations between bodies and things that is always in formation and always coming apart. Thinking about infrastructure as a process enables us to better theorize how our simultaneously social and natural worlds are constantly being made.


re: Interfacing Urban Intelligence

Evoking the proverbial tire, Shannon Mattern, references the indomitable Ada Louise Huxtable and asks “Kicked a smart city lately?

In it she seems to argue for a UX of transparency

“Rather than making the city’s services and networks appear seamlesslyintegrated, rather than disappearing the interfaces between the deep levels of the urban protocol stack, our interfaces could highlight the seams — in our infrastructural networks, between various layers of the urban stack, and even within the social fabric — thereby helping us to better understand how our cities function, and how we can develop the necessary tools to monitor and modify their operation

She provides more specifically, “a rubric for how we might evaluate our urban interfaces

More here via Place/DesignObserver

Adam Greenfield re: importance of “public space”

Specifically, why he thinks creating, maintaining and actually using it is so important, from either the individual or the collective point of view.

To wit;

At the most basic level, if a city isn’t furnished with a well-developed fabric of public spaces of different sizes and shapes and types, there is no place to simply be if you are not actively consuming. You never understand quite what this implies — just how stark and uncomfortable an urban environment can be, no matter how well-appointed otherwise — until you visit someplace where such a nightmare endstate is enacted intentionally and literally…We need to develop meaningful ways for people to use the city when they don’t have so much as a penny to their name, and public space can do this“.

Via recent post Public space, civilization and the self (long) over at his blog Speedbird.

structured data, object models and zero-configuration networking as the tools of urban design

What would it mean to think of a city as a dense mesh of active, communicating objects — each one able to gather information from the environment around it, routinely share that information with other objects as well as human users, even act upon it where appropriate? And if we can treat the things we encounter in urban environments as system resources, rather than a mute collection of disarticulated buildings, vehicles, sewers and sidewalks, what might we do with them?

Greenfield goes on to call for the need for the city to be open in terms of data, ownership and usage (w)rites. In this vein he makes a call for something that came up often in last years Infrastructural City blog-discussion, lead by Mammoth, “Just as the novice programmer is invited to learn from, understand, and improve upon — to “hack” — open-source software, the city itself should invite its users to demystify and reengineer the places in which they live and the processes which generate meaning, at the most intimate and immediate level.

Via Adam Greenfield over at Urbanscale (here)