Alastair Donald, Mindy Gofton, Martin Bryant and Lisa Raynes introduced a discussion on the lure of the social city and what role it can play in regenerating city space.
‘Open source cities’; ‘smart cities’; ‘intelligent cities’. The choice of prefix may change, but enthusiasts seem increasingly convinced that digital technologies are transforming not only the nature of communication, but also the way we design, build, use, and interact within cities. On awarding the TED 2012 prize to The City 2.0, the organisers disputed the idea that this city of the future was a ‘sterile utopian dream’. Rather, they argued, we are seeing a real-world upgrade, tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom to create places of ‘beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life.’
There are many other claims made for new technologies. Hewlett Packard’s version of City 2.0 asserts that the Information Age is reinventing the city for scalability and sustainability. IBM argue that intelligent technologies are turning neighbourhoods into ‘manageable ecosystems’. According to engineers Arup, new malleable systems increase citizen awareness of the relationships between activities, neighbourhoods, and wider urban systems. Unlike the inflexible, monolithic 20th century city, the Smart City, they say, is a place that citizens collectively modify.
New technologies are also often credited too with reviving sociability and civic engagement. Social media banish loneliness while digital platforms help create ‘networked publics’ organised around collective goals or issues, the transparency of the data-commons helping reform civic society. Some might question whether such innovations are genuinely able to transform relations between city institutions and the public, turning them from exercises in concealment and spin to thriving interactions based on accountability, dialogue and participation. Others insist, however, that this is not merely top-down or bottom-up, but rather a new, more democratic form of peer to peer interaction.
So where do we stand on the claims for the City 2.0? Digital technologies certainly offer new opportunities to interact, but to what extent is this fostering a revival of sociability and engagement? Might the quest for evermore data and transparency be more enslaving than enlightening, and do social media twitch-hunts and twitterstorms suggest that ‘open source’ cities are perhaps not so open after all? Cities have often been celebrated for their anonymity and the ability to bring together strangers. Do social media merely relocate these opportunities to cyberspace - or is crowdsourcing a less than adequate replacement for crowds? For all the claims that an online culture can help promote new forms of civic engagement with the city and the formation of new collectives, is there still something missing from the City 2.0?
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Speaker intros and full discussion in one go - click on the Play button:
Some background readings
Road Map for the Digital City, New York City website
Cisco's Big Bet on New Songdo: Creating Cities From Scratch, by Greg Lindsay, Fast Company, 1 February 2010
What role did social media play in the Manchester riot?, posted by Richard Frost, The E Word 10 August 2011
Clarkson's just Clarkson – would you have cared, pre-YouTube and Twitter? by Padraig Reidy, Guardian CiF, 1 December 2011
What the 2012 TED Prize Means for ‘The City 2.0’, by Nate Berg, The Atlantic Cities, 06 Dec 2011
Open Source Urbanism | Open Source City, by Domenico Di Siena, Urbanohumano 3 February 2012
Mappiness, the happiness application, London School of Economics / ESRC project
The City 2.0, Recipient of the 2012 TED Prize, Unveils Its World Changing Wish, gnom newsire service 29 Feb 2012
How the 2012 TED Prize, The City 2.0, Aims to Crowdsource the Future, by Anthony Flint, the Atlantic Cities 1 March 2012
I am the crucible of the future, The City 2.0 Beta
Help me create a manifesto for a model mayor, by Dave Hill, Guardian CiF 4 March 2012
Conservation: reflecting a fear of the future? by Mark Iddon, Manchester Salon First Tuesday, June 2012
Street performers told to cough up or shut up, Larry Neild, Liverpool Confidential 6 June 2012
Smart Cities, Raconteur 7 June 2012
Public spaces in Britain's cities fall into private hands, by Jeevan Vasagar, Guardian 11 June 2012
The Manchester Craft & Design Centre are hosting this discussion as co-organiser to proudly mark their 30th birthday! From it's humble beginnings in 1982 to becoming an award-winning centre for craft retail and development, the centre has been an iconic part of life in Manchester's Norther Quarter. The Manchester Salon are delighted to be invited to coordinate this discussion, also part of RIBA's Love Architecture Festival 2012 by way of understanding how we can shape the future of Manchester's Northern Quarter in the next 30 years.
The delightful and quirky confines of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre will provide a poignant backdrop for this discussion on how the area's own future can be sculputered from the resources available in abundance in the area. For more on the 30th anniversary events at the MCDC, click here and please sign up to their mailing list for reminders of events, workshops and exhibitions. Click on this Love Architecture link for more information about the full panoply of events in that Festival.
Blackwell's has an enviable reputation as a bookseller specialising in academic books, and stock a wide range of university textbooks, specialist books and books for the general reader. Blackwell University Bookshop have for a number of years hosted many Machester Salon discussions in their bookshop, and are now, helpfully supporting this discussion by providing some copies of Lure of the City for sale on the night, edited and contributed to by Alastair Donald.
AQUAPLANCTON is a natural, mined mineral that works with nature to brings about mineralisation. When the micro-organisms, which normally digest organic matter become inactive, mud accumulates, causing algae and blanketweed to thrive on the over nutrition. AQUAPLANCTON reactivates these beneficial bacteria which then multiply and consume the mud. This starves algae and blanketweed of nutrition, causing them to die out naturally. Good bacteria, working well, can consume up to 15cm (6") of mud in 6 months.