Adam Greenfield (previously) is one of the best thinkers when it comes to the social consequences of ubiquitous computing and smart cities; he's the latest contributor Ian Bogost's special series on "smart cities" for The Atlantic (previously: Bruce Sterling, Molly Sauter).
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Adam Greenfield's new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (previously) has scored an outstanding review from The Guardian's Steven Poole, who calls it "a landmark primer and spur to more informed and effective opposition" to "the pitiless libertarianism towards which all [Smart Cities] developments seem to lean." Read the rest
For 13 years, I've been writing about Adam Greenfield, one of the world's smartest critical thinkers on what we're calling "The Internet of Things" this decade -- but since the first glimmers of the idea of networked people, places and objects, Greenfield has been writing smart things about the subject, most recently in Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, a book that Verso will publish next week. Read the rest
Adam Greenfield proves again that he's one of the best writers and thinkers on "smart cities," explaining how the top-down, expensive, tech-centered approach produces unlivable corporate dystopias in which people are just another "thing" to be shuffled around -- and showing that there's an alternative, low-tech, high-touch, human-centered version of the smart city that makes resilient, thriving communities. Read the rest
Here'a an excellent piece on the promise and peril of "smart cities," which could be part of a system to make cities fairer and more transparent, or could form the basis for an authoritarian lockdown. As Adam Greenfield says, "[the centralized model of the smart city is] disturbingly consonant with the exercise of authoritarianism." The author mentions Greenfield's upcoming book "The City is Here for You to Use" (a very promising-looking read) as well as Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, which is out in the fall.
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These critics are advocating not that cities shun technology, but that they foster a more open debate about how best to adopt it—and a public airing of the questions cities need to ask. One question is how deeply cities rely on private companies to set up and maintain the systems they run on. Smart-city projects rely on sophisticated infrastructure that municipal governments aren’t capable of creating themselves, Townsend points out, arguing that the more they rely on software, the more cities are increasingly shunting important civic functions and information into private hands. In recent talks and in his upcoming book, “Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia,” Townsend portrays companies as rushing to become the indispensable middlemen without which the city cannot function.
Cities can easily lose leverage to private companies their citizens rely on, as the persistent battles of political leaders against telecom companies over price increases show. And private-sector software can operate behind a veil: Townsend says that while cities have made lots of data freely available online, there’s less concern about opening up the proprietary tools used to analyze that data—software that might help a city official decide who is eligible for services, or which neighborhoods are crime hotspots.
Adam Greenfield snapped this "Occupy Legoland" piece at OWS, including a Lego QR code (!). As Adam says, 99%, but 100% awesome.
Occupy Legoland! Read the rest
Windows Phone 7's minimalist interface is "a true design marvel," the first really fresh and successful approach to a mobile platform since the iPhone, says Andy Inahtko. What I like about it most myself is how plain it is, how unashamedly computerized. It's a well-implemented answer to the shiny, gradated skeuomorphic style used by Apple and others, where natural textures and objects are emulated pseudo-realistically in the interface design. As perceived resolution gets higher, my feeling is that Apple's UI style -- and Apple is very good at UI -- becomes harder to do without it looking cheesy. A kind of UI uncanny valley, if you will. Adam Greenfield recently had a few thoughts on that, too. Read the rest
Here's ubiquitous computing dude and smart guy Adam Greenfield talking about treating cities as "software under development." It's a provocative and exciting essay:
Provided that, we can treat the things we encounter in urban environments as system resources, rather than a mute collection of disarticulated buildings, vehicles, sewers and sidewalks. One prospect that seems fairly straightforward is letting these resources report on their own status. Information about failures would propagate not merely to other objects on the network but reach you and me as well, in terms we can relate to, via the provisions we've made for issue-tracking.
And because our own human senses are still so much better at spotting emergent situations than their machinic counterparts, and will probably be for quite some time yet to come, there's no reason to leave this all up to automation. The interface would have to be thoughtfully and carefully designed to account for the inevitable bored teenagers, drunks, and randomly questing fingers of four-year-olds, but what I have in mind is something like, "Tap here to report a problem with this bus shelter."
In order for anything like this scheme to work, public objects would need to have a few core qualities, qualities I've often described as making them "addressable, queryable, and even potentially scriptable." What does this mean?
Frameworks for citizen responsiveness, enhanced: Toward a read/write urbanism
(via Beyond the Beyond)
Bruce Sterling speech at Ubicomp - video
Ethical guidelines for a world of invisible, endless ...
Sterling on Ubiquitous Computing and the canard of ... Read the rest
Adam "Everyware" Greenfield -- a sensible skeptic about radio-frequency ID tags whose writing on the subject is bang-on fascinating -- is presenting the material from his next book, "The City Is Here For You To Use," at NYC's Cooper Union on April 9.
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Monday April 9, 2007 6:30pm, The Great Hall of the Cooper Union
7 E 7th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues, New York City
Free and open to the public. All are welcome.
Over the past few years the “computer” has begun to disappear into the fabric of everyday life, its power to collect, store, process and represent information diffusing into the objects and surfaces around us. Things as ordinary and seemingly familiar as running shoes, elevators and lampposts have been reimagined as networked devices, invested with unexpected new abilities. Meanwhile, the phones we carry have become ever more powerful “remote controls for our lives.”
Proponents and enthusiasts argue that no domain of human behavior will be untouched by this transformation, but relatively little thought has been given to specifically how these changes might unfold at the scale of the city. How will the advent of a truly ubiquitous computing change our urban places - both the way they’re built, and the way we live them? In this new talk, Everyware author Adam Greenfield tries to wrap his head around this dynamic set of conditions, to clarify what’s at stake and to offer some potential frameworks for building humane and livable cities in the age of ambient informatics.
Andreas sez, "Back in June, Cory reported about a presentation by Adam Greenfield about his recently published book 'Everyware'. [Ed: Everyware is a book about the threat and potential of a world dominated by RFIDs and other tracing technology -- about the potential empowerment or control that such a world would bring]
We invited Adam to Keio University in Tokyo for a similar talk and now the videos of the event are up -- more than 80 minutes of CC-licensed Everyware goodness!"
(Thanks, Andreas!) Read the rest
Yesterday I caught a presentation by Adam Greenfield about the ethics of "ubiquitous computing" (the idea that the devices around us will know where they are, what they are, and who you are). This is a place where science fiction and real world policy are converging; for example, it's becoming harder and harder to ride the London Underground without carrying a radio-pollable card that could be used later to identify who you are and where you've been. American passports are getting RFID chips that can be read at a distance, and visitors to the US are likewise being told that they have to carry radio-readable "papers" at all times in the country, at a pilot program being run at two border-crossings.
The utility of radio-readable identifiers is undeniable. I've written stories about how people could use them to improve their quality of life; seniors' homes are incorporating them into the Alzheimer's ward, in Hong Kong, the contactless card has made public transit and other routine transactions into an act of graceful dance, where people gesture in a fluid motion at the turnstiles to present them with their "Octopus" cards.
Obviously, the supply-chain uses for these in retail and wholesale are many and interesting, as are the uses that arise after we bring stuff home -- everyone's favorite example is the washing machine that won't let you mix colors and whites.
But there's an ethical dimension that needs to be considered in engineering radio-readable products. These products are potential privacy-bombs, capable of wreaking great havoc in our personal lives and the body-politic. Read the rest
Somehow, I missed reporting on this panel when I listed my SXSW stuff: I'm on a panel on Digital Preservation on Monday, 15 March, at 3:30 in room 15:
We take for granted that our cultural artifacts will last. It offends and horrifies us when we learn of decaying archaeological sites, looted museums and burning libraries. However, our digital heritage does not afford the durability that we enjoy with cave paintings, cuneiform tablets or even paper. How will digital content preserve its legacy? (Aaron Choate; Tanya Rabourn, Information Architect - MetLife; Barbara Taranto; Cory Doctorow , Outreach Coord - Electronic Frontier Foundation; Adam Greenfield , v-2 Organisation)
Link Read the rest