Newcastle APL Talk

Talk­ing to the good people at Newcastle’s School of Archi­tec­ture, Plan­ning & Land­scape (APL), I got the chance yes­ter­day to devel­op and share my slowly evolving thoughts on bike jour­neys, bod­ies and fab­u­la­tions.

Liv­ing Fruit­fully in/with the con­di­tions of (im‐) pos­sib­ilty


In this talk, I want to revis­it a piece I wrote in 2016. The piece, a chapter in Dawn Nafus’ book Quan­ti­fied (2016), was inten­ded as a story of prom­ise, a fab­u­la­tion about London’s bike rent­al scheme and how it might be used to re‐imagine new fig­ur­ings of human‐machine rela­tions. Think­ing across, askew, or athwart” (Hus­tak & Myers 2013), my exper­i­ment­ing with the rela­tion­al capa­cit­ies of bicycles, a city, (bio)sensing and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of data‐everywhere, aimed to res­ist the agen­cies of homo­gen­iz­a­tion” (Scott 1998) to explore the con­di­tions of pos­sib­il­ity for oth­er world­ings (Har­away 2016).

Reflect­ing on this work, I’ve felt a dis­sat­is­fac­tion with my efforts to throw togeth­er mix­tures of data at all scales, with the attempts at thick­en­ing and enliven­ing the rela­tions. It all felt too flat, too lack­ing in vital­ity. So, at the risk of appear­ing self indul­gent, this talk will present some early ideas for a dif­fer­ent story woven in and through the thick­et of rela­tions. Strug­gling to weave myself into London’s leg­acy with slavery and the viol­ent eras­ures of bod­ies and agency (Hart­man 2008), I’ll be try­ing to place myself at a much more fra­gile and tenu­ous junc­ture of space‐time, but at the same time still seek­ing to work fruit­fully in/with the con­di­tions of (im-)possibility.

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…)