Links for February 15, 2017

A City Is Not a Computer

Modernity is good at renewing metaphors, from the city as machine, to the city as organism or ecology, to the city as cyborgian merger of the technological and the organic. Our current paradigm, the city as computer, appeals because it frames the messiness of urban life as programmable and subject to rational order. Anthropologist Hannah Knox explains, “As technical solutions to social problems, information and communications technologies encapsulate the promise of order over disarray … as a path to an emancipatory politics of modernity.” And there are echoes of the pre-modern, too. The computational city draws power from an urban imaginary that goes back millennia, to the city as an apparatus for record-keeping and information management.

…Why should we care about debunking obviously false metaphors? It matters because the metaphors give rise to technical models, which inform design processes, which in turn shape knowledges and politics, not to mention material cities. The sites and systems where we locate the city’s informational functions — the places where we see information-processing, storage, and transmission “happening” in the urban landscape — shape larger understandings of urban intelligence.


Code, Costs and Opposition Make for Repetitive Architecture

“People are so invested in their community in San Francisco, since community is so politically charged. That protectiveness often works against surprising, interesting architecture,” King says. “In the Mission, in terms of the housing being proposed, I don’t think that the look of it really matters. It’s a gentrification fight. The big fights over the different projects are very much having to do with a sense of displacement, the sense of who will be in those buildings.”


Casual Games for Protesters – Tiny Games for the Resistance.