“Designed or planned social order is necessarily schematic; it always ignores essential features of any real, functioning social order. This truth is best illustrated in a work-to-rule strike, which turns on the fact that any production process depends on a host of informal practices and improvisations that could never be codified. By merely following the rules meticulously, the workforce can virtually halt production.”—
“The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state’s attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion. Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The premodern state was, in many crucial respects, partially blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people. It lacked, for the most part, a measure, a metric, that would allow it to “translate” what it knew into a common standard necessary for a synoptic view. As a result, its interventions were often crude and self-defeating.”—
What we encounter in this statement is an unreconstructed logical positivism, which, among other things, implicitly holds that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a technical system, without bias or distortion. As applied to the affairs of cities, it is effectively an argument there is one and only one universal and transcendently correct solution to each identified individual or collective human need; that this solution can be arrived at algorithmically , via the operations of a technical system furnished with the proper inputs; and that this solution is something which can be encoded in public policy, again without distortion. (Left unstated but strongly implicit is the presumption that whatever policies are arrived at in this way will be applied transparently, dispassionately and in a manner free from politics.)
Every single aspect of this argument is problematic.
”—Greenfield, Adam (2013-12-20). Against the smart city (The city is here for you to use)
“If we accept the highly dubious notion that paying a stranger to drive you to the airport is a profound gesture of empathy and responsibility, maybe this is true. But only if we consider the users of these platforms. If we turn our attention to the owners, we find tremendous greed.”—http://www.mrteacup.org/post/the-cult-of-sharing.html
“What would happen if the dreams of the investors and executives at these startups came true, and large parts of the economy became dominated by their business models? Employers that hire full- or part-time workers today—paying them minimum wage, overtime and unemployment, disability and social security taxes, and unable to discriminate against them—would switch to a cheaper, less regulated and more vulnerable workforce to do those same jobs. Having lowered their labor costs, they’re able to offer lower prices to consumers, forcing their slower competitors who rely on regular wage labor to adopt the same practices or go out of business.”—http://www.mrteacup.org/post/the-cult-of-sharing.html
“When Human Events says that the sharing economy allows employers to do an “end-run around the increasingly expensive, heavily mandated and regulated business of hiring employees,” this is what they’re talking about. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have created businesses that provide contract labor not covered by the federal regulations that employers find so burdensome. As Uber general manager Ilya Abyzov put it, “A driver contracting with Uber is not a bona fide employee.” The sharing economy is really the 1099 economy.”—
“The existing sharing economy values are designed to appeal to progressive liberals. It seems that there are very few “values-led” businesses which are designed to appeal to conservative values, suggesting that progressives are uniquely seduced by the view that capitalism is an effective tool for promoting their values and effecting political change.”—
“Slavoj Žižek often recounts a joke that illustrates the strange nature of belief: a man believes that he is a kernel of corn and, after visiting a psychiatrist, he is eventually cured of his delusion. After leaving the psychiatrist’s office, he encounters a chicken and runs back inside, terrified of being eaten. The psychiatrist asks, “But why are you afraid? You know you aren’t a kernel of corn!” The man replies, “Yes, I know that. But does the chicken know?””—
“But something else is being sold to us. While Silicon Valley urbanism turns the office into the city (Google’s Googleplex), in Las Vegas, Hsieh’s Start-up Urbanism turns the whole city into an office. Here, everyone is allowed to bump into each other (now that the old community has gone), but only the right kind of collisions are encouraged — the ones that promise profit. According to the Downtown story, every serendipitous “collision” has an underlying business purpose. A new company, a great app, a revolutionary marketing plan can emerge from every jump to the sidewalk.”—http://www.shareable.net/blog/why-startup-urbanism-will-fail-us
“Mouffe’s key criticism of the present model of Western liberal democracy is that it is based on consensus and underpinned by the universal value of the ‘free market’. She proposes the notion of ‘agonistic democracy’ which allows for a plurality of democratic positions, with liberal ideology being just one of those democratic positions: ‘Contrary to the various liberal models … the agonistic approach … never forgets that the terrain in which hegemonic interventions take place is always the outcome of previous hegemonic practices and never a neutral one. This is why it denies the possibility of non-adversarial democratic politics and criticizes those who, by ignoring the dimension of “the political”, reduce politics to a set of supposedly technical moves and neutral procedures’ (Mouffe, 2005: 806). The ‘political’ is precisely liberalism’s blind spot because ‘by bringing to the fore the inescapable moment of decision (in the strong sense of having to decide in an undecidable terrain), what antagonism reveals is the very limit of any rational consensus’ (Mouffe, 2005: 804).”—
“In the worst case, more efficient smart infrastructure will actually work to hold down the price of energy and stimulate even more consumption— what economists call the “rebound”—Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend
“The better we get at modeling user preferences, the more accurately we construct recommendation engines that fully capture user attention. In a way, we are building personalized propaganda engines that feeds users content which makes them feel good and throws away the uncomfortable bits.
But the other - bigger - task of the opposition researchers is to spend hours comparing what the politician said today with their recorded past that is stored in the computers. They look for contradictions and if they find one they release the videos to the media and again the politician is shamed.
So the politicians become frozen and immobile - because they have to have a blameless history. Which again seems laudable. But it means they can’t change their mind. They can’t adapt to the world as it changes
What Amazon and many other companies began to do in the late 1990s was build up a giant world of the past on their computer servers. A historical universe that is constantly mined to find new ways of giving back to you today what you liked yesterday - with variations.
Interestingly, one of the first people to criticise these kind of “recommender systems” for their unintended effect on society was Patti Maes who had invented RINGO. She said that the inevitable effect is to narrow and simplify your experience - leading people to get stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of themselves.
Technology’s invisibility is often mirrored in the illegibility of planning and zoning laws. A particularly cold-hearted moment came in October 2011, when the Occupy London protesters targeted Paternoster Square, just to the north of St Paul’s Cathedral. Once home to the free presses of London’s publishing industry, following its redevelopment in the early noughties, Paternoster Square is “public space” – but not actually public. Visitors – occupiers or otherwise –were greeted with signs stating that “Any licence to the public to enter or cross this land is revoked forthwith”, and at one point the entire space was not only blocked off, but actually filled in, with metal barriers.
It’s at such moments that the real structures of city life become visible: a matrix of permissions and observations, many of them unreadable most of the time. But while technology, as in the case of the spy bins, is often used to occlude these practices, it also has the potential to unlock and reveal them.
“One of the consequences of just how difficult and time consuming participating in the movement became is that key players stopped showing up. Well not exactly; they still showed up, but mostly for side conversations, informal gatherings, and the meetings that planned what would happen at the public meetings. Using social media … they formed an invisible guiding hand that simultaneously got shit done, avoided accountability, and engaged in factional battles with each other … you know what’s worse than regular same-old elites? An [sic] barely visible elite that denies it is an elite and can’t ever be called to account.”—http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112189/social-media-doesnt-always-help-social-movements
“Speaking through Ed, Gelernter writes, “It’s not that I distrust the software guys who design and build them… . They’ll take good care of us. And that’s just the problem. Serfdom means, above all, not slavery— slavery is slavery; serfdom is merely utter dependency— I don’t understand these things but I rely on them, not just for convenience but in order to carry out my thinking””—
“When sensors are used without our knowledge or against our will, they become instruments of surveillance. Most of the sensors to create a seamless snooping system are already in place, but the data— credit-card transactions, passport scans at borders, e-mails, and phone calls— are held by a scattered array of organizations. Linking it all together, sifting through it and assembling dossiers is, for government intelligence agencies and law enforcement, a killer app for smart cities.”—
“"Science" is a lofty term. The word suggests a process of uncommon rationality, inspired observation, and near-saintly tolerance for failure. More often than not, that’s what we get from science. The term "science" also entails people aiming high. Science has traditionally accepted the smartest students, the most committed and self-sacrificing researchers, and the cleanest money-that is, money with the fewest political strings attached. In both theory and practice, science in this century has been perceived as a noble endeavor.”—http://edge.org/conversation/the-third-kelly?utm_content=bufferc36d2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
“My bewilderment quickly yields to a growing sense of dread. How is it that even in the heart of Silicon Valley it’s completely acceptable for smart technology to be buggy, erratic, or totally dysfunctional?”—
“The same urge that drives communities to differentiate themselves through physical design, regulation, and social norms will shape the way smart technologies are used to retrofit them. It’s a mistake to assume that everything could or should be copied from city to city, however commercially attractive that may be. There are economies of scale, but there are also big benefits to doing it your own way. At the scale of big cities, these tradeoffs tend to be in balance.”—
“Google Search is no longer the clean, high-performance tool we once relied on and admired — now it’s a fetid stew of Google+-littered, screwed up mystery-mechanics, running under the misguided assumption that anyone and everyone only wants more of their own location, their connections, Google’s clumsily guessed interests, and Google+ favoritism in the results served back to them.”—http://www.zdnet.com/thanks-for-nothing-jerkface-7000030306/
“It was my exasperated acknowledgement that looking for good software to count on has been a losing battle. Written by people with either no time or no money, most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family. What we get is mostly terrible.”—https://medium.com/message/everything-is-broken-81e5f33a24e1
“Government officials apparently found the container design, so revolutionary for the MIT engineers, a symbol of poverty. Dominicans wouldn’t be caught dead walking into one. “[T]he Lincos container was the brainchild of a group of Western and Western-trained technocrats,” concluded researchers Paul Brand and Anke Schwittay in 2006, “They did not include indigenous designs, materials or needs into their broader design methodology, and the product of this methodology was ultimately rejected by the constituents the designers were supposed to serve.””—Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia
“And recently he said this to me: You lecture about the values
implicit in our constitutional tradition; you argue we should carry
these to cyberspace; what about the values implicit in the Internet’s tradition; what about the values that are implicit in how it is governed. Why shouldn’t we identify those, and carry those to real space?”—https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/works/lessig/Kent.pdf
“Or more specifically still: I’ve been arguing that we should look
to the structure of our constitutional tradition, and extract from it
the values that are constituted by it, and carry these values into the world of the Internet’s governance — whether the governance is through code, or the governance is through people.”—https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/works/lessig/Kent.pdf
“It’s not clear that Fermat had a proof at all. Indeed, in all his mathematical papers, there was but one formal proof. But whether a genius mathematician or not, Fermat was clearly a genius self-promoter, for it is this puzzle that has made Fermat famous. For close to 400 hundred years, the very best mathematicians in the world have tried to pen the proof that Fermat forgot.”—https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/works/lessig/Kent.pdf
There is no doubt that we live on an ever-changing planet. Earth Observation provides a great tool to monitor and track these changes, ranging from climate transformations to others caused by human impact. Among the different organizations monitoring the earth, NASA is one of the most prominent….
“Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”—Google
“There is a more general lesson in this story about how SMTP delivery came to fetchmail. It is not only debugging that is parallelizable; development and (to a perhaps surprising extent) exploration of design space is, too. When your development mode is rapidly iterative, development and enhancement may become special cases of debugging-fixing `bugs of omission’ in the original capabilities or concept of the software.”—
“I grew my beta list by adding to it everyone who contacted me about fetchmail. I sent chatty announcements to the beta list whenever I released, encouraging people to participate. And I listened to my beta-testers, polling them about design decisions and stroking them whenever they sent in patches and feedback. The payoff from these simple measures was immediate. From the beginning of the project, I got bug reports of a quality most developers would kill for, often with good fixes attached. I got thoughtful criticism, I got fan mail, I got intelligent feature suggestions.”—
“Sociologists years ago discovered that the averaged opinion of a mass of equally expert (or equally ignorant) observers is quite a bit more reliable a predictor than the opinion of a single randomly-chosen one of the observers. They called this the Delphi effect. It appears that what Linus has shown is that this applies even to debugging an operating system-that the Delphi effect can tame development complexity even at the complexity level of an OS kernel.”—
“8. Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone. Or, less formally, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” I dub this: “Linus’s Law”. My original formulation was that every problem “will be transparent to somebody”. Linus demurred that the person who understands and fixes the problem is not necessarily or even usually the person who first characterizes it. “Somebody finds the problem,” he says, “and somebody else understands it. And I’ll go on record as saying that finding it is the bigger challenge.” That correction is important; we’ll see how in the next section, when we examine the practice of debugging in more detail. But the key point is that both parts of the process (finding and fixing) tend to happen rapidly.”—
“Linus was keeping his hacker/users constantly stimulated and rewarded-stimulated by the prospect of having an ego-satisfying piece of the action, rewarded by the sight of constant (even daily) improvement in their work.”—