Monday, December 2, 2013

More reading notes

Evening of 2013.12.01. I'm thinking I should probably start a separate section of my site for these sorts of explorations. In honor of Vannevar Bush, perhaps I'll call it memex.

"The three faces of City 2.0"

by unattributed / Paris Tech Review 2012.05.09

"New experiences like Songo also raise the question of individual freedom. In a city where everything is connected, the idea of ​​privacy is not it default setting?"

With existing infrastructure like 4G phones, cctvs, pervasive netowrks, sensors, etc, "the city is, in fact, already digital"

"More than the threat of a widespread surveillance, then it is the collaborative practices that define the digital city."

Rise of 'web 2.0' as a term: "Without major technical changes without central decision, a set of new tools (blogs, RSS son), new platforms (social networks, video sharing sites), new practices, both among providers and users, have transformed the place that the web plays in the lives of millions of people."

"The people become "co-designers"." end the central monopoly on urban design and planning, involve more citizens in shaping their city. the technology enables, but is not primary.

"The development of ICT, far from the city dissolve or free ourselves from the physical constraints on the contrary has reinforced the need to be in space." technology has made location and physical place more important (within the city)

Access and representation: "the data collected through the sensors will inevitably biased, and at the same time it is difficult to imagine that local governments do not use it to build their policies. The risk therefore exists only refer to a citizen idealized - a virtual citizen, in both senses of the word." - Jacques Levy

Against the Smart City

by Adam Greenfield

Deconstruct big vendors' ideal:  “Several decades from now cities will have countless autonomous, intelligently functioning IT systems that will have perfect knowledge of users’ habits and energy consumption, and provide optimum service…The goal of such a city is to optimally regulate and control resources by means of autonomous IT systems.”

omniscience, infallability

me: a quest for the technical perfection of public policy. requires perfect translation and implementation of these systems, in light of heclo's "iron triangle." in my metaphysics, perfect translation is unattainable. system would further be subject to imperfections magnified by absolutism pointed out in lessig's "code"

"We act in historical space and time, as do the technological systems we devise and enlist as our surrogates and extensions. " - how Latourian!

Argument: perfect knowledge is impossible
- heisenberg, can't observe perfectly
- only capture things amenable to quantification
- actors may change their behavior to distory recorded data
- humans in the system will misuse the data if possible

"The Siemens scenario amounts to a bizarre compound assertion that each of our acts has a single salient meaning,"
me: i'm not sure i agree with this claim
" which is always and invariably straightforwardly self-evident — in fact, so much so that this meaning can be recognized, made sense of and acted upon remotely, by a machinic system, without any possibility of mistaken appraisal."

"“the data is the data”: transcendent, limpid and uncompromised by human frailty. This mystification of “the data” goes ... unchallenged"

"Perceptions of risk in a neighborhood can be transformed by altering the taxonomy used to classify reported crimes ever so slightly."

Making data "neutrality and dispassionate scientific objectivity." is a particular political expression (me: and a cheap rhetorical trick meant to silence criticism)

"would seem to repose an undue amount of trust in the party responsible for authoring the algorithm." - me: need for visibility and insight into the system making the decision as systems move from decision support to decision making (ie completely autonomous systems)

"the element of the arbitrary we see here should give us pause"
"the authorship of an algorithm intended to guide the distribution of civic resources is itself an inherently political act."

"some easily-measured value used as a proxy for a reality that is harder to quantify, and again we see the distortion of ostensibly neutral results by the choices made by an algorithm’s designers"
me: operationalization and methodology are risky, hard to get right even under favorable non-adversarial circumstances, and both are subject to deliberate manipulation

Greenfield picks up on the word 'goal':
"What is being suggested here strikes me as a rather profound misunderstanding of what a city is. Hierarchical organizations can be said to have goals, certainly, but not anything as heterogeneous in composition as a city, and most especially not a city in anything resembling a democratic society."

(me: I read Siemens' phrasing here as 'goal of implementing this city design is to have a city capable of the following' - that is, the goal is adopted at a point in time by a group of actors (a city council?), similar to adopting a master plan. i don't read it as meaning a permanently chartered goal, which would seem to go against the democratic spirit Greenfield appeals to)

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