Monday, October 25, 2010

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Hybrid Space - Hybrid Cities discussion

I am new to this list, and I am quite enjoying the conversation taking place here. I noticed that there has been some discussion of my book and I wanted to chime in with something of a clarification. Daphne writes this about my perspective:

"Gordon furthermore explains that we enjoy the database cities for the same
reason that we like Google itself and we dont mind it having access to our
personal's search histories. Because there is a suggested transparency: even
if the same information is shared with marketers, we believe we are in
control of our data and we feel safe.

The potentialities given by the geographical oriented visual search engines
today are surely exciting. But are we really granted access and control
because we think that we can modify and personalise the urban environment?
Can a new image of the city be shaped by all users - habitants?

I think there is an interesting misunderstanding here , when believing or
hoping that we are mostly going from the public towards the common when we
are still in the stage of semi-private or semi-public exercising control.
Something Molly also mentioned from another perspective."

But I don't believe that a new image of the city can be shaped by all users. I do believe, however, that cities often present themselves to users as if this was true. The premise of my book is that there is a long history of urban manifestations that assume an active consumer. This, of course, is not the case for all users, but it is the case that it has been a dominant rhetorical strategy, especially in the United States. I don't believe that participatory urbanism is a given simply because many have access to "participatory technologies." Simply because there is a data layer that rests atop urban spaces does not mean everyone can access it, or that it necessarily makes spaces more democratic even for those who can access it. But, as networks become more pervasive, their ability to communicate completeness grows significantly. Correspondingly, as they communicate completeness, they are much more efficient in excluding non-users. For example, after one completes a go!
ogle search, it is not likely that they will consult the yellow pages because they are not satisfied with the results. The more complete networks appear, the more inaccessible those those things outside of the network become.

While the argument in my book is optimistic in that it assumes the networked urban landscape is malleable, it in no way assumes that simply through the market forces guiding technology that cities have become more just, or more accessible than has been the case historically. In fact, as I mentioned above, the appearance of totality in networks can actually work to chip away at access and accessibility.



Eric Gordon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of New Media
Director of Engagement Game Lab
Department of Visual and Media Arts
Emerson College
120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 824-8828

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