This talk unpacks the problems with and potential responses to the tendency towards optimization in socio-technical practice. Looking across twenty years of ‘smart city’ efforts it provides new ways of seeing urban entanglement. The talk focuses on the ways that citizens work with, and against, technology to exercise citizenship. Techno-centric contexts can direct civic action towards ends that fit within overall frameworks of optimization. Optimization can narrow the frameworks for civic action in cities to align with techno-social systems and commercial expectations. Its undoing promises a more contingent acknowledgement of urban relationships, intelligence and persistence. Undoing these dynamics requires an attention to friction and tension, as well as an attention to the potential other ways of understanding and connecting different forms of knowledge, including the datafied knowledge of sensing systems as well as other ways of knowing.
Alison Powell is Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She will be in conversation with members of the “Automating the Logistical City” project.
Location: Leuphana Campus, C40.256, lecture