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Against the smart city (The city is here for you to use Book 1) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Adam Greenfield , Nurri Kim

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  • Longueur : 153 pages (estimation)
  • Langue : Anglais
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*Named one of Verso's Best Books of 2013!*

From the smartphones in our pockets and the cameras on the lampposts to sensors in the sewers, the sidewalks and the bike-sharing stations, the contemporary city is permeated with networked information technology.

As promoted by enterprises like IBM, Siemens and Cisco Systems, the vision of the "smart city" proposes that this technology can be harnessed by municipal administrators to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency, security, convenience and sustainability. But a closer look at what this body of ideas actually consists of suggests that such a city will not, and cannot, serve the interests of the people who live in it.

In this pamphlet, Everyware author Adam Greenfield explores the ways in which this discourse treats the city as an abstraction, misunderstands (or even undermines) the processes that truly do generate meaning and value — and winds up making many of the same blunders that doomed the High Modernist urban planning of the twentieth century. “Against the smart city” provides an intellectual toolkit for those of us interested in resisting this sterile and unappealing vision, and lays important groundwork for the far more fruitful alternatives to come.


"Adam Greenfield does for 'urban renewal' in the twenty-first century what Jane Jacobs did for it in the twentieth."
- Ian Bogost, Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology.

"A critical inquiry into the constrained reality of the smart city and its free-floating narratives. Adam Greenfield’s vast knowledge about the subject allows him to pinpoint the extreme moment where 'the ideology of the smart city finds its purest expression.' A great piece of analysis, a sharp exegesis — and great writing."
- Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of The Global City.

"For those who believe technology's finest, most broadly-empowering urban applications have not yet been deployed, this book is for you. It is less 'against' the dominant smart city narrative than a foundation for what we might yet assemble from the parts and pieces that remain after Greenfield's done deconstructing it."
- John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer, City of Chicago.

"Adam cuts the smart city marketing game to the quick. He reminds us, like the great urbanists before him, that cities are about people — people who shape their city from the bottom up with their character, agency, independence and yes, intelligence."
- Benjamin de la Peña, The Rockefeller Foundation.

"A cogent debunking of the smart city. Adam Greenfield breaks down the term with wit and clarity, exposing that the smart city may be neither very smart nor very city at all. An insightful, timely and refreshing read that will make you rethink the city of tomorrow."
- J. Meejin Yoon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, architect and designer.

"Every 'Smart City' advocate in the world should read this short book. Read it now, before people show up at the City Council and start quoting it."
- Bruce Sterling, author of Shaping Things.

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6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must-read if you're at all interested in whatever smart cities may become 3 octobre 2013
Par Jon Husband - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Adam Greenfield unpacks the conventional wisdom about "smart cities", much of which has been led by large IT and infrastructure vendors like IBM, Cisco and Siemens, and reminds us in a range of articulate ways that cities' key ingredient and foremost concern is humans .. how they live, work and play, and how cities have grown based on the messiness, inconsistencies and layers of history that humans create and live in.

He warns us against overly-enthusiastic centralization and the predominance of imprecise (and mainly marketing-oriented) language used to date in the conversations about "smart cities" and offers a thoughtful and profoundly human perspective on how the opportunities and challenges might be addressed.

I will read it several times.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Technology doesn't change cities, people do. 29 octobre 2013
Par Ryan betts - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Technology doesn't change cities, people do.

Adam has been saying this for a while:
"Societies, as it happens, turn their backs on technologies all the time, even some that seem to be at the very cusp of their accession to prominence. Citizen initiatives have significantly shaped [technologies'] emergence -- and [their] commercial viability -- ... and this has been the case even when groups of disconnected individuals have faced coherent, swaggeringly self-confident, and infinitely better-funded pro-technology lobbies." - Adam Greenfield, Everyware (2006)

Jane Jacobs was saying pretty similar things even a half a century ago:
"For all our conformity, we are too adventurous, inquisitive, egoistic and competitive to be a harmonious society of artists by consensus, and what is more, we place a high value upon the very traits that prevent us from being so." - Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)

Cities are complex and inefficient things teeming with citizens pulling in different directions. This is their main strength. This is why they are effective.

But as much as humans like cities, we don't like disorder all that much. We've spent a lot of the history of cities deploying 'high technology' in an attempt to quiet urban madness. Even when well intentioned, these efforts rarely succeed. Adam's new book offers and incredibly well-informed and well-articulated perspective on the challenges that face us now, with the current bundle of technologies known as the "Smart City."

Much like the Smart Fridges and Smart Televisions that came before it, the Smart City hasn't really lived up to its potential. Adam's thorough dissection of Smart City marketing copy gives us some strong clues as to where our thinking has lead us astray: it fails to acknowledge people as the critical actors.

This is not just some sort of whiny rant about big tech and marketing departments, though. Its a timely reminder: any 'high technology' effort deployed to improve urban living that doesn't place people at its core limits its chances of long-term success. Only a technology that keeps the citizens in focus, and keeps the citizens engaged, is a technology that can succeed - that can someday sublimate into an infrastructure we trust and take for granted.

Adam's given us a strong push in the right direction. I can't wait for part two.
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Thought Provoking and Eye Opening Argument 6 octobre 2013
Par Anthony Leone - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
In a time of unparalleled access to realtime information and communication via smartphones, tablets and so forth, computing power that has increased exponentially in just a few years, how is it the de facto urban planners of tomorrow's cities seem so trapped in stale, limited visions of the past? And how does this institutionalized myopia put at risk the true potential of these advances to improve just about every aspect of our lives, from cultural uniqueness to safety to protecting our democratic ideals?

In Adam Greenfield's AGAINST THE SMART CITY, he examines in great detail plans both proposed and enacted by leading tech giants(with governmental blessing) to create the modern urban utopia, sometimes within existing cities and occasionally built from scratch. He deftly identifies stunning examples in these plans of short sightedness, naive optimism and ignorance of past failures to account for the true nature of how cities work, adapt and thrive. He examines how the modern nature of online communication can perpetuate these incomplete visions as some sort of flawless ideal, and outlines both in theory and practice how their implementation could have serious repercussions in every stratum, obvious or not, that this technological integration may reach.

Greenfield's points are not that of a luddite, to be clear. In his excellent book EVERYWARE: THE DAWN OF UBIQUITOUS COMPUTING he excitedly outlined the awesome possibilities of technology for improving the public good, but always with an understanding of the potential for misuse. Here what he advocates is awareness, involvement, and openness, as the narrow goals defined so far in the corporate and governmental move toward "smart cities" show little regard or sometimes even disdain toward what is generally considered the virtues of urban living.

Most seriously he asks which parties are meant to benefit the most from these changes. This is not an abstract question when many of these projects are taking place independent of jurisdiction and regulation. In the age of the Occupy movement, access to and control of information can be used to empower or suppress.

AGAINST THE SMART CITY thoroughly makes its case with style and wit, but also a clear and sober understanding of the stakes involved as we integrate information technology into the municipal fabric. There is great potential for good or ill that depends on the choices made today and our understanding and participation in the process itself.

A fascinating and thought provoking read. I recommend it highly.
4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best sort of rant 15 octobre 2013
Par Ethan Zuckerman - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Adam Greenfield is a smart and nuanced thinker about how cities work and don't work and how technologies attempt to alter how we interact with a city, sometimes succeeding, sometimes getting changed through their encounters with large masses of people living closely together. (I've spent whole evenings with Adam discussing the topic of bollards, removable posts that prevent cars from accessing a street while allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to pass through.) So it was only natural that he would turn his analytic powers to the ida of the "smart city", one of the prevailing memes in contemporary urban planning.

The problem with critiquing the smart city is that you're critiquing an idea, not a reality. Greenfield is sensitive to this problem, apologizing for subjecting marketing copy to a critical reading. But there's a reason to "break a butterfly on a wheel" in this way - the sort of language used to describe smart cities built from the ground up, like Masdar City or New Songdo, gets used to talk about aspirations for changes to existing cities. The assumptions behind smart cities designed ex nihilo are build into the language and shape the aspirations for how existing cities are shaped by data. And, as Greenfield skillfully explains, those assumptions run directly counter to generations of wisdom about how cities actually operate, expand and thrive.

I've been recommending Greenfield's book to my students as they think about urban planning and technology and the assumptions they're bringing to their projects. And I am especially grateful that Greenfield couples his potent critique with a helpful section that considers how cities could learn from their citizens in ways that are participatory and not exploitative. I've got high hopes that Greenfield's highly readable critique will spread far and wide and will help bring about a richer dialog about what we want from our cities and what we should and shouldn't expect technology to help us to do.
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Enlightening 8 octobre 2013
Par Vincent Gustave - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I just finished reading the 100-pager essay (I couldn't put it down) and feel like I was just smashed with a ton of bricks. Based on a semantic analysis of the various materials published around the idea of so-called "smart cities", Greenfield deconstructs the concept for what it is: a futurist account of a city governed by overspecified installations connected into channels of communications that aim at centralizing information in order to yield pre-determined "efficiencies" whose foundations are never to be discussed.
I wrote that on our blog, as some sort of "book review".
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