Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Public Lecture: Ekim Tan, Play to plan

In June 2018, the very first Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium will take place in Twente. While the Colloquium itself is a closed workshop, we are happy to offer a public keynote lecture by Ekim Tan (Play the City, Amsterdam). The lecture will take place in the DesignLab (room: IDEATE) and will start at 17:00 on June 12, 2018. For more information about the colloquium, please refer to the Philosophy of the City Research Group's website. And here's the extended abstract for Ekim's talk:

New generations of city officers will speak the language of games and they will play to plan their cities. We, the experts working for the city, need to adapt our methods to fit a new generation of policymakers and citymakers that are born into a world that not only contains, but is re-shaped by, the likes of Minecraft, Pokemon Go and Foursquare on a daily basis. Interactive maps, mixed realities, 3D environments, and multiplayer settings are the new mediums through which an entire generation perceives the urban world. Imagine a future where cities are modelled, tested, designed, and reshaped through interactive, collaborative games. At Games for Cities, we are working towards creating this future.”
Dr. Ekim Tan, co-initiator Games for Cities

Background

Replacing the single-handed and static approach of the modernist city planning by a flexible form of shaping cities with multiple stakeholders is more than half a century age old question. In an era where cities witness high pace of social changes and technical advancements, this search for dynamic planning remains a major concern. Perhaps best concrete example of this search close to home is the so-called the new ‘Omgevingswet’: the Dutch building law seeks flexibility, collaborative development and digital integration for planning city development.

City Gaming is a systemic approach to cities. It is an open, multiplayer and learning environment. Participants gather to strategize ideas, plans for the city. City Gaming is recently becoming an applied discipline which did not exist as a practice in the 20th century. Yet it relies its knowledge in works of Buckminster Fuller’s World Peace Game, 1967 [simulating an alternative world order through a game without national borders and free trading rules], Constant Nieuwenhuys’ New Baylon 1956-74 [aspiring to a utopian city continuously re-created as a giant game where communal psychodramas were generated through open-ended lived processes], Robert Venturi and Dennis Scott Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas, 1977 [seeking for the logic and beauty in the ordinary], Christopher Alexander’s New Theory of Urban Design 1987 [searching for a meaningful holistic city design without any topdown interference but organic improvisations], Yuval Portugali’s City and Self-organization 2000 [proposing a systemic understanding of cities where both bottomup and topdown agents earn influence alternately in shaping them].

Urgency

The information age has accelerated the process of urbanisation, rather than reducing its pace. Cities are the engines of the global economy and contribute significantly to poverty alleviation, but risk becoming seething cauldrons of social inequality. Today, numerous large-scale city development schemes fail, as they fail in creating well-informed and participatory processes. In reaching inclusive city developments, City Games have a critical role to play: they are effective in integrating the intelligence of larger groups and individuals, both expert and non-expert. They can make data, interests and conflicts tangible for participating groups. Through simple and playful language of games, conversations are freed from jargon. Informed decisions by communities, across disciplines and by local governments become possible. Stronger even, if implemented systematically, city game-like methods carry the potential to work as the antithesis of the backdrops of populism we are witnessing where facts become vague, inaccessible and easy to manipulate for crowds.

Exploring hidden potentials of city games from research to implementation is what makes Play the City and its partners tick. When cultivated carefully in urban processes, games lift the practice of conventional city planning: collaborative decision-making, unlocking conversations and building trust, designing better city development rules based on human behaviour, making abstract scientific research accessible for larger groups are action areas where City Games already enhance city-making practice. This is relatively a new field of knowledge currently flourishing in the Netherlands and followed with big interest internationally. As the city gaming is evolving into a valid discipline, we propose to work on a platform engaging city gaming community, developing a common language, exchanging knowledge, reaching out to communities, local governments and other experts, and supporting the young talents. We want to create a dedicated public program with longer-term engagement and investment for developing this unique city knowledge and generation practice. In collaboration with cultural, education and governmental organizations, it will be possible to claim the space city gaming deserves parallel to the traditional practices of urban planning and architecture. This program aims to reach to those who feel interested and responsible for their city and like to play and interact with other humans.

Claiming and Flourishing a True City Innovation

The Netherlands have a long-standing experience with working in multi-stakeholder environments and therefore understand the tools and the processes necessary quite thoroughly. Dutch word ‘Polderen’ and the ‘Polder model’ enjoy a high degree of respect worldwide when it comes to a balanced and inclusive city development. Also, within the Dutch urban planning tradition, we find ‘scenario testing’ as a critical strategy development method. It is not an accident that the City Gaming as a young field of knowledge finds a fertile ground to flourish in the Netherlands. Tygron’s Next Generation Planner, Redesire, Scenarios- the Game, Metropoly, Ministry of Food, In the Loop, Energy Safari are only a few amongst many promising city gaming methods developed here.

Growing international interest in City Gaming can be tracked through works as Modelling the Future -Sydney, Community Plan-it, Participatory Chinatown -Boston, Betaville -New York. Recently we observe established knowledge institutions adjust their curriculum to make room for games: the University of Cambridge is hiring a Professor of Lego for Urban Design, MIT Medialab’s recently developed Cityscope, ETH Zurich’s brand new education track ‘Action! On the Real City’. Exciting practices include the mayor of Hamburg who relies on a city game, Finding.Places in settling refugees in local neighborhoods, Helsinki’s entire planning crew playing games for an inclusive city agenda, Bristol’s long-term investments in playable city policies.

In coming we want to channel the energy of our community for investigating, imagining and visualizing futures where city gaming grows to a regular system replacing traditional city planning as we know it. How would a world work where city gaming has become the regular [analog and digital] medium for designers, developers, investors, to meet, propose, test, agree and implement urban initiatives? How could we get there? How to popularise city gaming to become a natural medium for communities, politicians, scientists, planners and designers to meet and address daily urban challenges? How could existing specialized games grow into an ecology of game system? Could existing games communicate with each other and strengthen their intelligences? Could individual games be linked and reinforce one another through their datasets and player communities? Last but not least what would be drawbacks of a world playing to plan its cities, communities and buildings?

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

PhD position on smart urban infrastructures at the University of Twente

In Summer 2018, our project "Bridging data in the built environment" (BRIDE) will officially start. The project brings together scholars from TU Delft (Neelke Doorn, Gerd Kortuem, Aimee van Wynsberghe) and the University of Twente (Peter-Paul Verbeek, Nirvana Meratnia) and the great team of MX3D to work together on a 3d printed IoT-enabled bridge to be placed in Amsterdam. We get additional support from the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, the IoT Privacy Forum, the Foundation for Responsible Robotics and other parties.

In Twente, we are looking for a PhD candidate for a joint doctoral project at the intersection of computer science and Philosophy of the City. I (Michael Nagenborg) will be the daily supervisor of the project.

We are looking for a candidate with a master degree in Computer Science with a strong background in Internet of Things (IoT), especially in (big) data analytics, with a demonstrable interest in urban research (e.g., Philosophy of the City) and the willingness to engage in research-by-design methodology.

Applications are due by May 31, 2018. You can find the official advertisement on the website of the University of Twente.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the positions. And please help us to spread the word!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium 2018: Sneak preview

While we are updating the Philosophy of the City website, here's a sneak preview of the talks and the papers to be discussed at the Colloquium... There is a limited number of seats reserved for guests, who will not present but may engage in the discussions. If you want to participate, please register at our website.

Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium 2018: Technology and the City

University of Twente (NL)


Monday, June 11, 2018


Local keynote 1: Philip Brey (University of Twente): Technological Transformations of the City and Its Functions

Papers:


Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Papers:


Master students’ panels:

  • Selen Eren (University of Twente): The Techno-Political Order of Smart Cities: An analysis through the Arendtian understanding of politics
  • Zeynep Yavuz (University of Amsterdam): Probing the Limitations of Digital Representations: The City as Humanistic Experiment
  • Lorenzo Olivieri (University of Twente): Smart cities and the colonization of everyday life: playful moments for the information cage
  • Denise Suzanne Antoinette Maria Op den Kamp (University of Twente): Smart Infrastructure – A Research on the shaping agency of the WiFi sensors project in Enschede

Public keynote lecture

Ekim Tan (Play the City, Amsterdam): Play to plan

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Local keynote 2: Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente)Technopolis and technopolitics: smart cities and the digitalization of democracy

Papers:

  • Udo Pesch (TU Delft): The Relevance of Arendt’s Work for Understanding Public Space
  • Ryan Mitchell Wittingslow (University of Groningen): Authenticity and the „Authentic City“
  • Shane Epting (University of Nevada Las Vegas): ICT and Water Resource Management for Urban Sustainability
  • Taylor Stone (TU Delft)Towards a Darker Future? Designing Environmental Values into the Next Generation of Streetlights
  • Sanna Lehtinen & Vesa Vihanninjoki (University of Helsinki): Aesthetic Perspectives to New Urban Technologies – Conceptualizing and Evaluating the Technology-Driven Changes in the Urban Experience

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A brief update

Having been ill for quite some time in March, I slowly start to catch up. Here's a brief update:

1. The Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium on Technology and the City is taking shape. We have selected a total of 22 papers. The programme will published soon on www.philosophyofthecity.org. Note that there will be a limited number of places available for people not presenting. The maximum number of participants will be limited to 40.

2. Our book project ("Towards a Philosophy of Urban Technologies") is also making progress. We are currently reviewing the chapters submitted and will inform the authors by Mid-June about the outcome of the review process.

Finally, the Philosophy of the City Conference in Bogota is also on the agenda. We are currently spreading the call and hope to receive a great number of wonderful proposals by June 1, 2018. Again, the Philosophy of the City website is the place to go and have a look at the Call.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Book project: Technology and the City (Update)

The edited volume on „Technology and the City“ is taking shape. After an intense meeting of the editors, we have invited a total of 39 authors to submit a draft chapter. Since some of the chapters are co-authored, we expect a total of 25+ chapters, which will be presented in four sections:

  • How to Analyse Cities
  • Responsible Design of Urban Technologies
  • Technologies and Urban Life
  • Alternative Visions of the (Smart) City

While most of the authors are coming from Europe (with multiple contributions from Scandinavian countries and - little surprise! - the Netherlands), we are happy to work with authors from the Americas and China, too.

We aim to have the book published in 2019. While most of the process will have to remain invisible, we appreciate your moral support in making a (hopefully) fundamental contribution to our field. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

CfP Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium 2018

1st Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium
Technology & the City
June 11-13, 2018, University of Twente

Call for papers

In addition to our annual conference, the Philosophy of the City Research Group hosts one Summer Colloquium per year. The first Colloquium will be held at the University of Twente (NL).

The aim of the Summer Colloquia is to bring together scholars within a specific domain of Philosophy of the City. The first Colloquium will explore the intersection and interplay between Philosophy of the City and Philosophy of Technology.

While the city and its parts are designed, built, maintained, governed, and destroyed with the means of technology, surprisingly little work has been undertaken on the interplay of technologies and the City or the more broadly metaphysical question of ‘Technology and the City.’ Some prominent philosophers of the past, like Lewis Mumford, had a striking dystopian view on the impact of Technology on the City. By contrast, the contemporary vision of the “smart city” sets forth the promise to address important societal challenges (e.g., climate adaptation and fighting global warming) with the help of sensors, big data analytics, and ‘city dashboards.’ Our Philosophy of the City Summer Colloquium aims to develop a more nuanced and holistic perspective on the role of technology in city life.

To ensure an intense and in-depth discussion, we will accept a maximum of 20 papers. In addition, we will accept a maximum of 10 posters from PhD candidates and Master-level students. PhD candidates are also invited to submit a paper.

Draft papers will be circulated one month ahead of the Colloquium. Each paper will be presented and discussed in a 60 minute-time slot (30 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for a formal response, and 20 minutes of discussions). Each participant will be asked to comment on one paper. A limited number of papers will be presented in parallel sessions.

PhD candidates and Master-level students will have 3 minutes to pitch their posters in a dedicated session before the poster presentation.

Potential topics include

  • The place of technology in the city
  • Technology and the urban / rural divide
  • Social justice, technology, and the City
  • Living with disaster: Anticipation and resilience
  • The aesthetics of urban technologies
  • Race, Technology, and the City
  • Urban cyberspaces
  • “Kill all techies!” High-Tech Companies and Gentrification
  • The role of Philosophy of the City in Engineering Education

Confirmed keynote speakers

Ekim Tan (Play the City, Amsterdam)

Philip Brey (University of Twente)

Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente)

Timeline

February 15, 2018 Submission of abstracts (350 words, prepared for blind review)
March 15, 2018 Notification of authors, opening of registration
April 15, 2018 Closing of registration
May 15, 2018 Circulation of draft papers among participants

Submission of abstract

Send submissions (prepared for anonymous review) and questions to:

Dr. Michael Nagenborg, m.h.nagenborg@utwente.nl

All abstracts will be reviewed by at least one member of the executive committee and one member of the programme committee.

Venue

The Symposium will take place at the Conference Hotel Drienerburght (http://www.drienerburght.nl). Rooms have been reserved for the participants and can be booked directly through the hotel’s website, once the registration has been opened.

The University of Twente (https://www.utwente.nl/en/) is located in the east of the Netherlands between the cities of Enschede and Hengelo. The most convenient international airport is Schiphol (close to Amsterdam). There is a direct train from Schiphol to Enschede Central Station every hour. The trip takes about two hours.

Conference fee

Master students: 30 EUR
PhD candidates: 80 EUR
Regular conference fee: 130 EUR

The conference fee includes lunch and catering. Opportunities for joint dinners will be provided, but dinner will not be included in the conference fee.

Executive Committee

Shane Epting (President), Ronald Sundstrom (Vice-President), Michael Nagenborg (Secretary), and Jules Simon (Treasurer)

Programme Committee

To be established

Contact

Dr. Michael Nagenborg, m.h.nagenborg@utwente.nl

Call as Download

You can download the Call as PDF here.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Laura Fichtner: A Smart City of Flows

After the summer break, we continue our series of interviews with scholars from the tracks on technology and the city at CEPE/ETHICOMP and SPT 2017. The third interview is with Laura Fitchner. She presented her paper on "A Smart City of Flows" at ETHICOMP/CEPE 2017. The interview has been conducted by Margoth González Woge in Summer 2017.

Could you tell us who you are?

I’m currently a researcher in Ethics of Information Technology at Hamburg University in Germany, where we study the societal and ethical aspects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the Internet. I’m looking at some of the issues we face with the technological developments that are happening, for example concerns about cybersecurity, privacy and surveillance. I’m interested in how we create the rules and technologies that make the Internet work as it does and in how the Internet shapes the way we experience, communicate and live together.

What did you present at the Conference?

I presented and discussed some ideas about smart cities that have come out of my reading of Manuel Castells’ writing on the “space of flows”. The main idea is that ICTs are reshaping spaces in an important way. Castells makes a distinction between space and place: while place is like a container, a space is defined by and through what he calls “time-sharing practices”, so through social relations and interactions. When ICTs restructure and shape our relations and how we interact with others, they also restructure space and, when it comes to smart cities, in particular urban spaces. Often, the goal of smart city applications is to improve processes in the city in order to make them more efficient and predictable. While this can help solve some of the issues we encounter in urban life, there might also be some downsides to this logic. In the paper I explored the idea that when algorithms solve problems for us and regulate our interactions in too smooth and too efficient of a way, there is also something valuable being lost. Cities have historically always been very creative places; this creativity partly also springs out of the characteristics of city life, its deviances, unexpectedness and frictions.

As a trained engineer, did you receive any training in ethics? How did you become interested in politics/ethics?

During my bachelor in engineering I was looking for a student assistant job. I wanted to do something different, so I started working at the Institute for Technology Assessment and System Analysis (ITAS) in Karlsruhe which analyses social challenges that science, technology and engineering pose. I liked the work they were doing, so I decided to continue in this direction. I took a couple of courses from philosophy, ethics and social sciences and searched for relevant Master programs open to people from different backgrounds. I found that the PSTS program at University of Twente was a great option.

What kind of challenges have you found while doing interdisciplinary research?

One big challenge is getting acquainted with the relevant discussions and methodologies of different disciplines. You really have to learn how to get into a new or foreign topic, but also how to communicate with and across different audiences and create a suitable vocabulary for your work. One of the great things about being an interdisciplinary researcher is that you can be very creative in your research, because you can combine different approaches to create something new and sometimes even transcended the old protocols.

What pressing problems worry you? What excites you about technological developments?

I like the idea of technology as an evolutionary process. We can model it, but we can’t completely steer it. I share the excitement many feel about all the possibilities the Internet offers to us and I’m fascinated by the impact technological developments have on our lives and societies. It’s incredible that we are now able to access so much information in no time, learn about things we couldn’t have dreamed of before and stay in touch with our loved ones far away.

Currently I think a lot about cybersecurity, data protection and surveillance. Questions I wonder about are for example what happens with all the data that is collected about us and our behavior? And how do algorithms use this data to decide what we see online? How vulnerable will our societies become by fully relying on ICTs? I think there is a growing ICT infrastructure everywhere that has important social consequences but is often invisible to us. Based on data that is collected about us online, algorithms are starting to make decisions for us and regulate what we see and how we interact with each other. The ads we see and the jobs that are advertised to us online can for example be targeted towards who the algorithm thinks we are or what we care about, and sometimes they are even just based on where we live. I think as technologists and engineers it is important to understand that we are creating realities and embedding our values in the technologies we design and implement.