[Air-L] CFP EASST 2018 panel A10: Commoning the Smart City

ginger coons ginger.coons at utoronto.ca
Wed Jan 17 01:33:55 PST 2018

Dear AoIRists,

We (Nicole Foster and ginger coons of the Digital Cultures Research 
Centre at the University of the West of England) welcome submissions to 
EASST 2018 panel A10: Commoning the Smart City. Submissions can be made 
through the EASST website 

*Short abstract*
Smart cities construct inhabitants as consumers. They aggregate and 
exploit individual preferences and behaviors to create rational, 
efficient cities. Hackability could subvert 'smart' initiatives. This 
panel explores tensions between the smart and the hackable in the 
context of the digital commons.

*Long abstract*
Engineers, planners and policymakers espouse faith in technocratic 
solutions to urban ills. 'Smart city' narratives suggest that positive 
outcomes can be achieved by creating personalized experiences of the 
city. Instead of a generalized conception of the public, city 
inhabitants are constructed as diverse consumers representing market 
sectors. Interactions with public services and spaces can be tailored to 
produce efficient behavior and pleasurable, engaging experiences, making 
concerns regarding surveillance and social engineering more difficult to 
identify and contest. Because the 'smart city' is based on aggregating 
and exploiting individual preferences and behaviors, realizing the ideal 
of an urban commons becomes even more elusive.

The 'hackable city' (frequently constituted as bottom-up organizing) 
could provide a subversive corrective to 'smart city' (top-down, 
centrally-managed) initiatives. However, the radical potential of these 
practices remains uncertain. While do-it-yourself urbanists and civic 
hackers can be seen as challenging these narratives through the 
appropriation of technologies and spaces by encouraging unsanctioned 
uses of public spaces, such projects are not subject to participatory 
planning processes and may reflect elite consumption preferences. 
'Hackable city' interventions could prove to be exclusionary.

We invite contributions which critically explore the tensions 
underpinning smart and hackable city technologies, public space and its 
relationship to the commons. How might engagement with 
technically-mediated public spaces undermine or constitute a commons? Do 
hackable city interventions empower public space users to become 
producers? We especially seek work that complicates implicit dichotomies 
like bottom-up and top down, or hackable versus smart, engaging with the 
grey space between extremes.

We look forward to your submissions!

-ginger coons and Nicole Foster

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