Reading The “sentient” city and what it may portend

A ram­bling piece in Big Data & Soci­ety by Nigel Thrift: The ‘sen­tient’ city and what it may por­tend.
Was­n’t expect­ing the digres­sion into spir­its and per­for­mance art, but I do like Thrift’s con­tin­u­al efforts to write about expan­sive human/agent capac­i­ties and extend­ing the .

…the claim is being made that, as com­pu­ta­tion­al objects have devel­oped, cities are able to take on new forms of vital­i­ty (Stern, 2010), forms of vital­i­ty which can devel­op over time. Per­haps one way in which we might con­sid­er this ques- tion is pre­cise­ly through look­ing at how vital­i­ty dev­el- ops when com­pu­ta­tion­al things are explic­it­ly includ­ed in the con­tours of expe­ri­ence. Then it becomes clear that it has only grad­u­al­ly arisen, line by line, algo­rithm by algo­rithm, pro­gram by program.

Thirft, N. (2014). The “sen­tient” city and what it may por­tend. Big Data & Soci­ety, 1(1).

On Simone’s ‘people as infrastructure’

People as Infrastructure
A few of us work­ing at the inter­sec­tion of data, civic­me­dia and cit­i­zen­ship are tak­ing a look at this arti­cle by AbdouMaliq Simone. Some ram­bling com­ments follow:
First, just a short point about style: I’m delight­ed to see Simone’s unapolo­getic use of rich descrip­tions of Jo’berg’s streets. They are in strik­ing con­trast to what I see to be the stan­dard ethno­graph­ic account in HCI papers. What I find tedious is the usu­al pre­am­ble in HCI works—explaining method—and then the use of par­tic­i­pants’ quotes as a kind of ‘proof’ of par­tic­u­lar points. Also, both point to a curi­ous idea of what it means to demon­strate evi­dence or proof. Simone both­ers with none of this. He gets straight to the sto­ries, to the rich descrip­tions of inner city Jo’berg and its under­bel­ly. (more…)