Gritty Glossy Google Gods
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Gritty Glossy Google Gods



What is travel today if I take my internet with me into the city as a co-pilot? Am I roaming wild, roaming free, or just roaming for a damned WiFi signal? Deals with Waypoints, Workarounds, Uploading, ...

What is travel today if I take my internet with me into the city as a co-pilot? Am I roaming wild, roaming free, or just roaming for a damned WiFi signal? Deals with Waypoints, Workarounds, Uploading, Upscaling, and Uprooting.



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    Gritty Glossy Google Gods Gritty Glossy Google Gods Document Transcript

    • gritty glossy google gods -nate schulman-
    • Schulman 1 -Here After - I have a confession to make: I want to Google my President Obama’s BlackBerry model and then get the newer, faster one. And I want to get it before even he can. How did I get here? Being a Google God means you’re a Vishna next to a Shiva next to a Krishna next to a Ganesha - when everyone’s a curator, there’s a lot to fight for, and lot to praise. Everyone wants to be on top, and they have to get their piece first. Maybe we should text our Cab-Driver instead of bodily signaling. It’d be quicker. Instead of President Ford telling City of New York, drop dead! now we wait for Obama to tell us to drop our smartphones for half a damn second. As if he himself ever would. If we’re becoming the ‘data cowboys’ of science fiction writer William Gibson’s fertile imagination, we’re yelling yipee kayey on the way to the shoot-out (1984). All in all, we should be more careful. So let’s. This is more than just travel, and this is more than just the wild west. Questions provoked by other questions: What is travel today if I take my internet with me into the city as a co-pilot? Am I roaming wild, roaming free, or just roaming for a damned WiFi signal? In the form of handheld computers which filter and aggregate media which is tied to place, information about physical spaces today floods the invisible sphere we’re tapped into. Spatial information becomes ‘locative media,’ any media bound to place. In the digital hereafter of futures both remarkable and frightening, urban computing matched with geospatial1 technologies are creating a synthetic space between what we’ve understood as the real and the virtual, and with it, the understanding of a deepening connection between the two. Sym- bols of our everyday life’s mobilities precede arrival. Urban Comput- ing is the new Urban Commuting: Simply Compare and Contrast. And Venture Capitalism works as Venture Place-Spotting: the go-to model for new neighborhood development, even when and where others don’t dare tread. Especially when every area’s growth is an escalator, all the inevitable ‘up and coming’ tags act as accolades in and of themselves. For the global elite with the most unmatched ac- cess to personalized information and communication technologies, 1. Desc r ibes the combinat ion of spat ial sof t ware and analy t ical methods w ith geographic datasets.
    • Schulman 2 the bottom-line is well understood. We, who can travel the most, now have the option to travel without travel at all. My goal here is to spark new connections between and through the discourse of the creative city and ubiquitous computing in our interactive society. While it may seem increased mobility of information and travel on- line decreases alienation, it in fact can do quite the opposite. Instead of sharing our niched interests in a shared space others can add to, we continue to clump to live among like-kind (see Bishop 2008). And while never a new process, this one is sped up, laden with technological propaganda of a smaller world’s potential. Travel is diversified and democratized online, but the diversification doesn’t reflect physical social relations, which is especially why I’ll be focus- ing on creative professionals. Sociologist Richard Lloyd even devised the concept “grit as glamour,” in a substantial case-study of capital-C Creatives and capital-C Change in Chicago’s ‘hipster-fied’ Wicker Park (2002 and 2005). A familiar set-piece draws a valuable term - a nabe once left for ‘dead,’ excluded through its dominant existence as a ethnic enclave, picked up, revised, mythologized, pampered by the hip and relatively marginal themselves, but lastly only then to be ‘robbed’, too expensive for either group. Ahem. The line’s a little fuzzier, but that’s the way we tell it to children at bedtime at least. Here I’m adapting the script and running with it. The creative new mobility of the cybercity is first off an adaptation, for knowledge workers today consist and persist as gritty glossy google gods - plac- ing themselves in a myriad of positions in debates of physical and digital space all at once. Economic and Cultural Agglomeration ar- rives as a result of informatization and produces it in turn. In 1984, the founder of Silicon Valley’s countercultural Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand, stated that “information wants to be free” (The Media Lab 202). For some context, more than twenty years later in a commencement address to Stanford, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the publication, “sort of like Google in paperback form, thirty-five years before Google came along” (Jobs 2005). But Brand’s full quote is less digestible than its more bite-sized parcel, that being while “Information wants to be free. Information also
    • Schulman 3 wants to be expensive... That tension will not go away” (ibid.). Was he right? Reconceptions of neoliberalism2 following today’s econom- ic downturn do little to allay these fears. As data jumps like a rock over a pond all-galaxies-wide, never ending links become somehow even more never ending by the day. Subsequently, as we open ourselves to this vast open plain, we’re not sure if we’re inert or active when using the Net in physical spaces - inflamed or at standstill. Our brains act as co-producing partici- pants as our bodies take the backseat. Armchair philosophy, like armchair anything, is considered a dangerous sport because you’re not really playing, merely wanting to, sitting it out on the sidelines. And so residing at rest, our butts stuck to the chairs built specifi- cally for prolonged usage, computing until lately was always an armchair activity. As a wandering, it could take you beyond initial expectations, even the wildest ones, but always cerebrally. It never precisely teleported anything or anyone anywhere except through abstraction, through daydreaming. Today though, we are swamped with the remaking of the physi- cal world virtually, in its differing virtual manifestations. These rapid fire expansions have been called many things all falling under the excitable ‘location revolution,’ and a partial list includes the ‘geoweb,’ ‘where 2.0,’ and more generally ‘Everyware’ (Greenfield 2006), and Immersive or Ubiquitious Computing (Weiser 1988). De- spite the onslaught, what these ‘post-desktop’ models share is merely part of a vast digital adaptation to a still ‘analog’ world. If not quite the determination of reality as zeros and ones (the building blocks of the computerized), we find at least the willingness to desire such a world. Despite its gifts of joie de vivre, travel takes effort, and can be expensive or in many other ways cumbersome. For those with the tools up-front, digital travel is less problematic, more anywhere anytime. As such, “contemporary information flows are interrelated with experienced space. They reflect an increased curiosity about other places and spaces. Such curiosity may be translated into activ- ity in physical space, such as tourism, which on its part, may bring about additional information flows” (Kellerman 134). What distant 2. De f ined, “neoliberalism resur rec ts “P re-Key nesian” assumpt ions that f ree markets automat ically generate c iv ic order and economic prosper it y” (Burget t and Hendler 2007). Obama’s Administ rat ion is avowedly renew ing Key nesian assumpt ions of state inter vent ion.
    • Schulman 4 places are similar to the ones we like, regardless of how far away? The question beckons no more or less now than ever before, but its answers are certainly more graspable, on the go and on the grab. Everyone wants to come to new places and processes with the ‘best’ information that will assist them, subjectively as that may flow. Just as you don’t blame the gun for it’s owner’s actions, nor can you blame the GPS unit for it’s owner’s ethics. But so put in the place of tourists, we need our maps, and on the double - how else will we make the most of it? Now now, if participation really is as simple as a “complicit curiousity scaled to the space you’re currently in,” how can’t newly locative media bring out the participatory? (Miessen & Basar 28) I believe it will, but never without toil and trouble. The timing of technologist encores and razzle-dazzle fizz is an enter- taining tale of righteousness and reception, and I desire a kind of fervor without fever, and here’s hoping I find it. Lest we forget it wasn’t so long ago a certain sir’s Segway was going to revolutionize the city too, while now only reserved for the butt of jokes. The potential for an integrated reality of digital and flesh is in sight, but where’s the insight? While an Augmented Reality de- tracts away from older concepts, and what can clearly be seen with the ‘naked eye,’ it is also more investigative, a spyglass for a filter. Digital Media tied to place, like user-created Google Maps and geo-tagged images on are not value-neutral. This is not virtual reality, but the potential instead for the virtual to unlock a fuller actuality of spaces. The resulting mode moves the computer- ized realm past the desktop, laptop, and even soon past the smart- phone, today’s prime exemplar. Subsisting wherever WiFi and 3g networks roam, on the go computing comes the closest to realizing fecund past imaginations - an entire world made data. Until more recently, a lot of work to tabulate geography online used special- ist equipment such as GPS transceivers, and thus remained a niche interest. Such insularity ranked on par with the bizarre-looking virtual reality headsets of yore, or the Google Street View cars soon to come. By contrast, “mobile telephones are relatively cheap and widespread,” and moreover, “the most pervasive and successful com-
    • Schulman 5 munications technology of modern times” (Evans and Gray). More and more, the mobile computer and the phone will mesh, becoming interexchangeable: the iPhone-ing of the universe is inevitable - just count how many apps are created and sold for it each week. But more pressingly for our purposes, this iPhone-ing will have mas- sive effects on knowledge and access to physical places, as spatial information grows irrepressibly agile the same way the international financial system has. While copious data will stay insular without specializing explication, data stored was always data galore - just in need of a little push. Large social webs of geospatial information online are increasingly affecting that very nudge. Because of the freshness and ubiquity of these processes, we forget about past inequity when we go mining for data rather than mining the past. We can’t forget the structures of context, the ways walls are built up. As Dan Schiller’s book Digital Capitalism reminds us, “knowledge carried by the internet is no less shaped by social forces than it is elsewhere” (xiv). And freewheeling mobility in the coffee shop or not, tacit knowledge is best spread through interac- tion. Digital sharing only goes so far, and how far will we let that be? Pushing the knowledge economy forward will most certainly not rely just on ‘digital content industries,’ but all the ‘data mining’ to support it. The slew of new terms comes fast and hard. Perhaps its the just as new and speedy Street View panoramic camera that makes it all seem so malleable - 11 lenses, covering all bases, moving afield with our every interaction- camera, dodecahedron, all-seeing eye. Or maybe its the precise tracking of time which digital cam- eras now embed in their ‘Exchangeable Image File Format’ (EXIF); perhaps this makes us feel we can exchange times and places just as easily as we exchange files of all media types. Of course, we cannot kill time - time kills us. Self-learning in isolation, like geography, has its blind spots. That doesn’t reduce the incredible excitement and public engagement with these technolo- gies however. Because while “few implementations” of “ubiquitous computing for urban life” exist, “the relatively recent emergence of Location-based Service (LBS) for mobile devices, is beginning to
    • Schulman 6 provide insights to new ways by which information can be accessed, shared and distributed in urban environments” (Shepard 440). With its simplicity of ease, Google Maps has brought out the cartographer in everyone, by “turning the Web into a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found” (Helft 2007). One industry-predictor has the verve to say, “by 2013 every phone, except the most basic models, will be GPS-enabled” (Wollan 2009). All the same, we must remember, as theorist Kather- ine Hayles does, that “code is the only language that is executable,” and all the better when that code makes data visual (50). Coming naturally from all the place-specific data the Internet yields, the inertia of so many new maps is intense. By orchestrating cold and hard facts into warm and fluid images, digital cartography makes the seemingly unmappable net more palatable. Like a city regener- ating past our normal observations, our day to day can seem feeble in comparison, a digital inertia which battles and destroys human inertness. - On Site Unseen- In 2007, Google’s Street View followed their earlier online maps. The service provided an astounding filmic addition, all-around, all-angles. This new reality was not unlike the goals of the Google Books program: the complete subsuming of informational resources, for and because of one company, under the assumption of freely distributing those objects for anyone who sought them out. The technology group then makes themselves the primary resource for discovery in the meantime, and for all the better. A major and key difference remains - Google got the books not from its own collec- tion, but from others, whereas by adding Street View as an additive layer, it needed new information about earlier mapped information. Here, the group had to co-create it, not just find it - to turn as much of the world as it could into a screen, by photographing and dupli- cating the streets of the world as a new photographed reality. In this
    • Schulman 7 process, they created information about information, data about data- the very definition of metadata. Photographs have always been taken to mark places in time for particular reasons, most particular- ly of special occasions. But now in the hub-bub of it all, everything and everywhere legally photographable from a car was flattened, made navigable. When all is photographer, at all times, is everything a special occasion or nothing at all? You alter your city into a game, different people joining it at different times, always whenever and however they could. The Street View panorama of a place is as stub- born as Latitude and Longitude. It just is, regardless of where you’re coming to it from. It exists as if timeless, though rooted in anything but. Though banned in several countries, a common refrain in the States is complaints of M.I.A. locales. Not why is it there?, but why isn’t it? This overrules what problems Street View could raise. The docility of the county surveyor with their bright orange jackets and visibility was replaced by one Colossus, out of one place and time, maneuvering through all they could, and documenting it all unan- nounced through cameras attached to everyday cars. The lat. and long. of Downtown Los Angeles at 317 South Broadway is the same to a Spanish speaker or an English speaker, the same if you’re walk- ing by it, or out at sea. But its being there isn’t the point, its how where we are relates to that thing, and how to operate on it. Street View is neither Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality precisely - but its a bit like the first on the way to the second, usable for the purposes of both. Though its only a reporting of the city in one particular place and time, it acts as a stand-in, a literal ‘digital peep-box,’ as two technical specialists in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) put it (Lammeren and Bergsma 31). That’s why several urban computing researchers have argued that “disclosing a photo’s location” is “an act of communication rather than a pure implicit history of physical presence” (Girardin, Blat, and Nova 2007). Street View could slow down vision because there’s only so much you can safely slow down to see while driving distracted, and because its more like a kind of cybergetic walking, digitized to the screen. But more than not, its used for quick quotidian identifica-
    • Schulman 8 tion - checking where a place falls on the street, its signs, its ambi- ance, and then using that to measure up future actualized experi- ence with predicted ones. Though just because I can Street View a Colorado Springs or Fort Collins rather than a Boulder, because the ‘word is out’ on the third but less so on the first two, doesn’t mean the jobs are there to start or that they’ll follow me. That could only happen if the truly enterprising creatives got there first. This contemporary creative working world belies a game of cat and mouse, New Economy industries following on the flighty needs and heels of possible future workers. It all feels like a weird Special Ops. While more opportunities and higher-off jobs follow from stronger competition, the laid-back draw of said places to begin with comes from an attitude of modesty and the ability to remain down-key. This is something the new elite hiring-houses for Creatives don’t want. They have to promote their process of migration and newly situated place in the neighborhood at the same time they may be as global as any other Transnational Corporation, just as ready to move where it can limit costs and seek low taxes. If anything, cyberpunk novelist and technologist Bruce Sterling argues the geospatial web can’t be defined in the older frame of locality, only a newer ‘hyperlocal’ (2007). Bursting to the brim, he wallops the world, adding “it’s real, folks — in a hyperlocal world the real eats the virtual. We’re in Reality 2.0!” (ibid.). These words come from Wired magazine whose ability to stay on top of the newest of new is unparalleled, especially in our age of new map- making. Yet, while visionary, the publication is often overly pleased with the urgency of its optimism, and the optimism of its urgency. Wired thus leads the way in seeing the Inanimate Object known as the Gadget as possessed with spirit, with magic, a modern-day keel of animism. In such a world, the iPhone is not just a tool to fight the world’s uncertainties like a ‘sword,’ its the sword in the stone. That mythical accompaniment was an interface, ‘a common bound- ary between two things,’ and so too an in-between of the material world and the world of magic. Beyond that, it was a holy gadget, fit only for the king. Of course you knew that already because you’re
    • Schulman 9 reading Wired the same reason so many new Capitalists read Fast Company - all the big boys and girls are doing it. A cousin heavier on the money angle, Fast promotes hip cities as ‘fast cities,’ but, again, the “slow-growth” of a bohemian hot-bed like Portland contains, rather than unleashes. Sterling may argue, “the future is already here, it’s just not well distributed yet,” but he would!, because it relies on “technorhetoric, which always argues for the superiority of the artificial,” rather than what is, what came before (Sterling 2004, Margolin 118). As the likes of these digerati unleash their cooler brand of fast capitalism, they overlook the battle which has raged from fiery depths- that being, the eternal dilemma of Creativity and Culture battling with the Economy for Value, rather than being superseded to it. But in stark response to Fast, Wired floating, rudderless and free, must we remain provincial, even protectionist? Its not hard to find wonderful, engaging blogs about your city, nor is it hard to find them about anywhere else. Sites like, or, bring a franchised approach to Sterling’s ‘hyperlocal’; simply type in ‘your’ neighborhood, and you’ll find blog posts, used-created google maps, and Twitter posts referencing that area. But the reference to ‘your’ is merely arbitrary here, since formatting for the site holds utterly the same regardless of where you’re using the net from. Its just not that specific to your exact lat/long the way the iPhone is. If you want to learn the kinds of food and amenities of the same kind of neigh- borhood as yours, just somewhere else, that’s not so difficult at all. This is especially so when Cultural Capital can only grow stronger through prestige. Word of mouth can work as a currency when gobs of actual currency aren’t there. And so as MySpace’s social media was first populated by Independent Musicians, and many early users of Yelp and Craigslist were those enough in the Tech-Savvy elite to know of it, there exists a coded placelessness beyond the physi- cal buildings of cultural-cachet areas. We’re further ensconced in a swap, whereby digitality precedes actuality. So there we have it. Sight-grabbing is the new sight-seeing. Yet still, too much unstructured data means context is lost and true
    • Schulman 10 knowledge is less extractable. Imagine a Google-like search engine, worldwide, which wouldn’t just list web sites and user-created infor- mation that happens to mention a place, but could act as a clearing- house for only place and places. As hard to construct as this would be, such a centralized grouping would give data to both everyday consumers and scientists, and be all the more powerful the more us- ers added their own consenting information into the databank. At- tempts like have been made, but few rise to the fore of mass usage just yet. Perhaps here as elsewhere consumer loyalty maintains the strength of the reigning search engine. How else to explain the absence of MSN’s new Bing or NASA’s World Wind 3-D model program from the popular conscience, while “to search” is really synonymous with ‘to Google,’ and to travel via “Google Earth” garners pop-culture momentum. In any case, this is why I’m sticking to my story: adept investigators of place online are not Gritty Glossy Bing Gods, or Yahoo! Gods, though they may very well use all three. In due fact, while “Google Earth” was once Keyhole Incorpo- rated’s “Keyhole Earth Viewer” before it was bought out in 2004, the original name is rarely known. Meanwhile the inner-workings of Google Earth still run off Keyhole-Markup-Language files, or ‘KML,’ as any and all users of the program are accustomed to. As a small-tech company of only 20 employees, the Iraq War was a big victory for Keyhole as major news-agencies used the full-fledged Keyhole Earth Viewer to zoom into Baghdad and other war zones, always flashing the name of the owning company while doing so (Maney 2003). While a trial version was available on their web site, the professional edition used by CNN and others cost them 700 - about a penny for such a large conglomerate but far less than democ- ratized. Herein, the fascination with this new resource obscured the fact that the Earth’s utmost exploration was fodder for the contem- porary world only at a proprietary, saleable level. The free Google Earth is militaristically precise enough for most, but in August 2009, Google continued a moneyed path by announcing they would now perform Street View services for any private business that sought to hire them, far from their originally announced vision that every-
    • Schulman 11 thing documented was public property (Wang 2009). This mirrors earlier developments in Google’s claim on ‘orphan’ books - out-of- print titles it is digitizing in part so it can become their legal guard- ian (Helft 2000). In the company’s framing, any profits, of course, are a side-effect to public openness. The latter openness ironically closes down understanding on what now seems inevitable. Urban philoso- pher Henri Lefebvre is even so bold to believe “anything hidden or dissimulated- and hence dangerous - is antagonistic to transparency” (The Production of Space 28). Here, Open Access becomes the new liberty, one to be maintained on pain of death. In such light, worries of monopolization are hidden when we the public are granted such accessibility. Thereby, we can hopefully start to see the biggest data- harvest of all will be the one we give away. Originally, GPS comes from the military and privately funded infrastructure has kept the ever expansion of cell phone towers steaming right along. But the situations that put those recently pos- sible technologies in place were top-down and few-to-many. New usage models of these WiFied vehicles to the ‘internet of things,’ are at least at surface level, more people powered and many-to-many. With the release of their Application Programming Interface (API), Google Maps allowed sophisticated programmers to create their own completely specialized, user-created ‘mash-ups,’ still one of the most popular configurable codes for programmers. With a relative ease of data visualization where programmed code can automati- cally make maps from listed spreadsheets, maps are democratized for more than just seeing but also for making. In allowing its code to be swapped and changed and rated and bettered by the masses Google is no America Online, that closed-off ghost of yesteryear. And the company’s addition of its own amateur-friendly mash-up ‘My Maps’ is the most accessible of all these. But that doesn’t mean our current behemoth won’t sacrifice people-power for their own, all under the name of its opposite. Given the choice, they have already proven that by helping authoritarian China to censor. The feeling of control that coats cyber-cartography is hard to shake, with new motions towards surveillance from data becoming a sly new breed of ‘dat-
    • Schulman 12 aveillance’ (Zimmer). Audience research has never been easier - the audience very volunteers it. They exuberantly give answers they weren’t even asked yet, couldn’t be asked otherwise. Not for naught, there’s a pretty massive dystopia we can dream up. We want data to become information so to become knowledge, and we want that because we think that alone is the exact same thing as preparation. Were that the case, we could simply live vicariously, gaining and using for our experience others on whole: experiences without experiences. As GPS tracking is used for crime preven- tion, the system acts as the-new-DNA, invisibly incontrovertible (see Paynich and Hill 2009). One of the first major mash-ups on- line, in fact, was Adrian Holovaty’s 2005, which turned a light anew on the ‘raw data’ already available online from the Chicago PD. The new spatialization was viscerally captivating, even featuring in New York magazine’s 2005 “Year in Ideas” issue. But crime finding is not crime fighting. Typically scarier-than-Hades, urban historian Mike Davis was not at all far off in 1990, when he warned “we are at the threshold of the universal tagging of property and people - both criminal and non-criminal . . . monitored by both cellular and centralized surveillances” (253). And theorist of our cyber-times Lev Manovich is perfectly right when he calls out that “this close connection between surveillance and assistance is one of the key characteristics of the high-tech society” (3). This connects to fears of how ‘life-casting’ could be used against you. The situations that put ‘tracking’ technology in place still work from the few-to-many, top-down model, even through we’d like to think we’re so very free in our many-to-many media multiverse. Expert on privacy and media, UCLA Information Science Profes- sor Philip Agre deems today’s era not one caught in the privileged, perpetually feared ‘surveillance model’ of yesteryear but a new “capture model,” one opted into (Agre). We all celebrate the down- fall of yet another stupid politician like South Carolina’s Governor Sanford, when its they who are tracked, forgetting all along our stupidity is just as trackable, if not as noteworthy. As we’re always reminded, and remind ourselves- we shouldn’t fear surveillance
    • Schulman 13 when we have nothing to hide. But then we ‘opt-in’ to be captured ourselves, forgetting all the while we add our own piece to the puzzle. The searching context is this- you only have to tune in with a limited amount of attention, nay, devotion, nay, both. That’s why internet searching can be like raking through the alleys, or sneaking in through the back door. Googling a Yelp review before going there gives you ‘insider’ info, but so does studying a place to rob it. How much can you really know about a place-as-experience before trying their product anyhow? In the most practical sense, plans made for our later selves can more easily come to fruition with applicable geographic information. Yet space as directly lived has little to with the mere storing of “numerical information about reality,” because in that process, “people are not so much regarded as individuals, but as attributes linked to coordinate space” (Longhorn and Blakemore 124-5). This helps explain why even though “more than 7 million maps have been created” through Google’s My Maps service, they can never represent that expanse (Cornell 2008). The pressing question arises: without making a product, service, or place, only finding all of them, how can I ever claim intellectual ownership? If collecting and organizing is the hard part, find- ing always the easiest, we’re at an impasse where “distribution is the new production” (Apps and Timmons 6); or in another phras- ing - “anything that cannot be marketed will inevitably vanish,” as curator Nicolas Bourriaud frets (9). So speaking of marketing, a web page with waypoints tied to spots of actual geography lives in an economy of now. More specifically though, it lives precariously, where it can die through its server crashing, or through author negligence. Alive at the moment of access, and restful otherwise, web pages suffer in ephemerality by their sheer volume of creation, whereby they’re far too many to print out as books and archive as in physical libraries. Then again, if all goes well, scanned informa- tion from inside a book can stay put more durably, whereas the physicality of its shell can be destroyed, all remnants of it taken away without a trace. Think back to Google Books as a precursor - how will these new mappings, in all their breadth, be archived?
    • Schulman 14 Also, how will Google ‘own’ the digital files that users add to their database? After books go out of print, digital scans of the scarce remaining copies will move from forgotten intellectual property to the initial, even primary source of discovery. Apple, too, funnels the Internet through their smartphone and advanced iPod, taking you to iTunes and the iPhone Apps Store as fast as it can. While they have every right to do so, this isn’t an opening of boundaries, only a closing. Walking around with a set device that could tell you digital information about physical spaces and yet only getting shopping links to the ones that would most directly benefit the device’s maker is a kind of monoculture. By owning the rights to distribute a whole plurality of goods inside its rubric Apple appears to initiate a chain in a newly dynamic way, to be a creative, a song arranger, though it didn’t ‘create’ the songs to begin with. Because as the philosopher Martin Heidegger put it, “technology is a way of revealing,” which “comes to presence in the realm where revealing and unconcealment take place” (Basic Writings 319). Following upon that, we’ll of course accept technology up-front when its synonymous with the Open and True, transparency here becoming an alleviation of the stubbornly absurd universe. But sci- ence critic Bruno Latour reminds us of something quite the oppo- site- “that the Heideggerians have drawn from the idea of a technol- ogy that could not be tamed since it was itself pure mastery without a master” (Latour 247). The possibility exists that we are merely providing more ways for our daily lives to be commercialized: “it is not just a question of what capitalism does to geography but rather of what geography can do for capitalism” (Smith 4). Geo-coded con- sumer profiles are but one of these intensive commodifications, with many more modulations to come. None of this should be surprising since the Top 10 Google Results are the only real winners, the tra- ditional downtown in its booming heyday, and all the rest a ghetto lost in time and place. Maligned to the furthest recesses of search results are pages 2 and 3 and 4 and more. It’s first come, first served, and to the Google God victor, go the geospatial spoils. The first Google God preceded the Internet, for the first Google
    • Schulman 15 God came from a space machine, a camera held by a V-2 rocket, pro- viding the first photograph of earth from space in 1946. Now NASA provides the starting image for our Google Earth explorations at God’s-Eye-View, and where we always zoom back in. But whereas God’s view floats far above our troubles, the Astronaut could never escape their own, only unmanned missions like Sputnik could, and neither can the Internet virtual tourist-as-Astronaut. In the feeling of perceived neutrality and almost scientific accuracy Google Earth gives us, we feel both like that Sputnik through our Mac Screens as we do the buoyantly golfing Neil Armstrong at play in an odd new place. Akin to “the first medieval maps,” where “each of these maps is a memorandum prescribing actions,” we can download the Google Earth maps of others which can also act as tours, here to there, and in such and such order (de Certeau 120). But they don’t have to be. Out of the hands of professional cartography, even a Google Maps mash-up as simple as showing us all the cheapest gas-stations in our GPS-ed nearby is mapped so we can make the cheapest decision most quickly. This one-ups capitalist development which works to have us believe, however much choice we’re given otherwise, one brand trounches another. In such a world, the winning brand is the only way, higher expenses and all. In that, branding itself is a kind of itinerary-building, making shoppers like gullible tourists. And so, we hope, to find-is-thus-to-access-and-thus-to-‘know.’ But once you enjoy the pleasure of finding and follow up on a photo or video to its physical source, you may also feel the very tinge of disappointment that lies in accessing something so much through media before flesh. In the preeminence of that first path of discovery, you’re reminded, glumly, that “life in a modern urban city is a social struggle rather than a struggle for physical survival, yet in this role, post-modern humans are every bit as nomadic as their Paleolithic ancestors” (Kopomaa 1999). Famed theorist Mar- shall McLuhan had this down pat even earlier, all the way back in 1964, where in his largest read tome, Understanding Media, he wrote- “before the huddle of the city, there was the food gather- ing phase of man the hunter, even as men have now in the electric age
    • Schulman 16 returned physically and socially to the nomadic state. Now, however, it is called information gathering and data processing” (343). So we should understand before continuing that while spatial informa- tion entrenches us further in this nomadic state, its not the first time we’ve been here, nor in any way its creator. Had the program Google Earth been available, one could have used it in comfort during the L.A. riots, even from mere miles away- but that satellite image which could get you to Florence and Normandie could only go so far without context. The participatory aspect could have been higher than watching the normal news, but it pails in comparison to the moxie of news-anchors who blithely did go into the war-zone for live footage. Other proposals could argue much of that site-spec- ificity was not for realism at all, that it was just all lunacy, merely for sensationalism. Either way, no map, no data set, no compass, can measurably unlock the intricacies of a soul, the selective knowledge only an unlocked heart and spirit unleash. You can quicker glean from the face of a petulant local, or a rioter caught in both agony and glee. Even far quicker still can you learn the face of a local over that local’s mapped space. Case in point - after Hurricane Katrina’s tragedy, there was an intense flurry of activity on Google Earth to see where the levees had broken, corresponding with the 2005 democratizing roll-out of the previously proprietary software. But this was a use that came after, and came too late, not one for the more complex political realities before, where GIS could have helped engineers outside New Orleans see where the levees might could break, though they hadn’t yet. The impact of cyber-cartography for the everyday non-specialist is large, but on its most massive democratic scale remains for brev- ity, not for breaches - a time swamp like Twitter, not the depths of aid. Increasingly important long-term will be the specialist uses of the ever-growing social web for geo and earth sciences, where new knowledge depositories can be processed. Like a film which converts an isolated moment of earlier Being in space and time into a cuttable reproducible visage, the inunda- tion of physical place into virtual space does the same, but it does so
    • Schulman 17 too one step further. Technologies will soon take this to the most micro-level: chips which will allow mobile devices to be at all times, and all at once, location-aware. GPS-units don’t track you, they track themselves, and you’re just the one holding them. Cameras which take location-precise photographs do the same. Summating, personal and pervasive urban computing re-animates the inani- mate through data just the way the rehabilitation of the dingy re- animates left-for-dead-zones through beautification. Though we’re positioned ourselves inside the shared language of a limited com- munity, the shared set-standard of co-ordinates that is longitude and latitude is universalized, equally usable by the entire world commu- nity. In short, it is like a Metric system the U.S. actually conceded to, or an Esperanto we all speak. We pat ourselves on the back when we engage path-finding exactitude as a forward-thinking future. Going back historically, ships have always been one of the predomi- nant users of latitudes and longitudes out of necessity. When near neither other ships, nor land nor harbor, the homogeneity of a field flat in every direction is spaceless. Without boundary, with nothing to bear on otherwise, technical bearings become everything. Like- wise U.S. Army troops vastly overran their competitors in the first Iraq War with assured GPS on their side, at their side. No repeat of Mekong Delta there. Instead? Technology beating out the natives at their own game. So in a clearly demarcated field such as our own lived-in city, why does GPS feel like such a necessity in that city once wired? Besides, it’s not just that an “estimated 80% of Govern- ment Data has (a) spatial component” but overall in proprietary databanks, “around 80% of information (is) estimated to contain a spatial content” (Longhorn and Blakemore 123). Geospatial data, spatial information, or simply Google Maps - however deep you go with them, whatever you call them - they’ve never been more acces- sible, nor ever as on-the-go than now. This will only keep growing, so what next? If anything today, we need a GPS for the vast sea of the Internet, a crevasse of data’s peaks and valleys, all stretched out as long as our sight can take us. We act as if everything linked together is some-
    • Schulman 18 thing new, simply because that ‘everything’ is information about itself. In due course however, some of ‘everything’ have always been linked together since the very start, like recycled rainwater, recycled repeatedly. Since before media reproducibility of any kind- things. people and places have ebbed and flowed, unrooted but also settling, all before any measurable way to record it. Above all, displaying location is the province of the machine, but determining it human kinds. Personal space, distance, is an emotional distance too. When GPS becomes a set end-goal, there is nowhere to be lost, no seeking. Scouring a bit back, Jonathan Raban’s concept of the Soft City has had a lasting importance stretching beyond its origins in 1970’s Lon- don and his tome of the same name. Then and there he predicted that, “for better or worse, it (the city) invites you to remake it, to consolidate it into a shape you can live in . . . The city as we imagine it, the soft city of illusion, myth, aspiration, nightmare, is as real, maybe more real, than the hard city one can locate on maps” (11). Fol- lowing on that, every word seems Google-able if we read it online, but precisely coordinated if situated permanently in a book. Even when reproduced, that one copy of that one book stays tied to its particularity. Since you cannot be in two places at once, nor can you read two books at once. Online, instead of one by one, one at a time, everything feels like one into one, one thing always into another. The precision of a place in Global Positioning terms simply works itself out, created one by one out of a system. But the ‘center of the world’ is not ascribed to where that falls on the grid. Anything but. The experience of subjective feelings dominates, and it all just depends on with whom we ask. The center of a county is not neces- sarily its capital, while the center of the world is most certainly not a cornfield. It is a city in that world’s strongest political nation, but moreover, it is contestable, arguable, and adaptable. While it is not referred to on a daily basis by its coordinates but you can be sure its enemies know them. It’s one thing to hear a writer’s ‘field-report’ of their first-hand experience in a shanty-town, read on your Kindle or in a book. Its distinctly something else to hear from your friend as they’ve done
    • Schulman 19 the same. At the least, you can engage with them after their mind’s eye has had time to question and feel. Slowing down observations of the city can take the disadvantage of a possibly conflictual tension between group and kind, and fill it with potential linkage. Despite the problematics of travel and its intentions, if no one ever did go astray, it would be harder to learn about other cultures, and that much easier to be violently skeptical towards them. As in other kinds of reads, however, a surface-reading remains problematic ever still. In well-intentioned celebrations of inter-mixing, newness and creativity are seen as inherently positive results of the hyper-hybrids at the heart of the world’s mixing and urbanizing. In cultural anthropologist John Hutnyk’s estimation, we must beware of “an indulgent inner urban ghetto-exotica, where fantasy cosmopolitan- ism can risk a dark inner city evening out” (“Hybridity” 95). I’ve wondered the same exact thing as while I’m wary of theme-parking my own city, I want to take an escapist joy in it all the same. So what is it that happens to mass civic engagement when its the digital placeholders for locales which want to be free, and when its physical reality that wants to be freer? For when the city’s appended into a custom-tailored toolkit, re-ordering, emulating, and bend- ing to your every whim, the whole bait and tackle becomes self- justifiable in the very process. Once appended into apprehension, its made over in a way we don’t know how to maneuver without. Even to ‘opt-out’ is only to acknowledge a quest for a new cachet, that of the-power-to-do-without. This is the luxury to forego luxury, only after the luxury was in some sense in place at the start. This is no penny-pincher. It maintains no acknowledgement of the power of the choice to begin with. -Loose Lips Sink Hip Strips- As Public Authoring takes an enormous presence on the Net, it grows well beyond a simple YouTube video remix into realms like
    • Schulman 20 citizen-journalism, gradually being accepted by the most entrenched and mainstream of media. The quote-unquote ‘official’ gatekeepers are not so sure what their role is to come, and what to protect. More day-to-day but no less viciously, knowledge workers are dealing with the constraints of top-down, one-to-many gate keeping, falling over themselves to understand, control, and compete with peer-to-peer, many-to-many models. This informed, elite, knowledge-working Digerati is the ‘White Collar’ worker in its most valorized form. It is, in other words, a self-protecting, networked class. As Italian scholar Franco Berardi despairingly names them, this “cognitariat” are just cognitive-proletarian-workers with a prettier shroud. This feeds off of the less Marxist but more confusing “virtual class” of net economy workers snidely prescribed in Data Trash (Kroker and Weinstein 1994). In arguing against the “virtual class” term, Berardi retorts “but the social existence of virtual workers is not virtual, the sensual body of the virtual worker is not virtual” (Fuller and Snafu 275). The inability to lock steady on any widespread definition of these new, ever-modulating changes in world economies is an un- locking of another kind: it illustrates the importance of that need, that work, by its very difficulty. The newest of these terms is one of the more widely-debated of late, perpetually large in estimation, and one which subsumes most previous attempts. Deemed a distinct class in itself by Richard Florida, a regional economist now at the University of Toronto, the ‘Creative Class,’ as he defines them, “consists of people who add economic value through their creativity” (The Rise of the Creative Class 68). Nothing more, nothing less - we’re left to grasp for left- overs all our own. This idealized projection encapsulates all kinds of always-moving urban workers, merging the relative high-brow of the ‘White Collar’ with the decidedly more bohemian ‘No-Collar.’ In its focus on ‘creative labor,’ it brings focus anew on a “heretofore fringe sector,” now majorly in the spotlight of urban planning and studies (Ross 2008 45). Though Charles Landry’s The Creative City hit a little earlier at the cusp of the new century, no one’s better managed to disambiguate so keenly, just as all this constant Google
    • Schulman 21 name-checking suffices as a cornerstone (2000). Unsurprisingly for an academic-turned-cultural-megaforce, Florida is his biggest proponent. He travels widely, proscribing case-specific remedies to situational problems in cities nationwide, some more subjectively than others. Amidst what could otherwise be problematically im- mense and insular data sets, he is a mythic storyteller, and a brander per excellence. His less-visible right hand man is his U. of Toronto colleague Kevin Stolarick, the numbers-man. But it is Florida who is the real brand, traversing the playing fields of both academic and pop-cultural realms. Here is someone who is both read, loved, and loathed from all sides of the political spectrum. Stolarick and Florida work together for a firm called Catalytix, using a wide-array of Indices to measure urban change. Among these are: the “Gay In- dex” and “High-Tech Index” (both self-explanatory); the “Bohemian Index” (for relative concentration of artists, performers and writers); the “Mosaic Index” (for diversity), and “The Creativity Index,” mix- ing all others and incorporating the ‘3 T’s’ of Technology, Talent and Tolerance. Though the criticism of precise causal ties between the Technology Talent and Tolerance indicators of the Creative Class have taken place widely, they’ve also been somewhat rebuked by their own creator. Shrewdly aware of the crits he receives across the board, and even more consistently trying to finagle them, he’s gone to the extent of taking San Francisco as an uneven case-study for nation-wide analysis. In frankness, he spends much of his newer The Flight of the Creative Class ‘answering’ criticisms, rather than produc- ing the new insights expected in a sequel. Regardless of the attacks, what now reigns supreme is this visage of creativity, a branded lifestyle no matter the quantity of actual ‘creations,’ or what economists would rather deem ‘creative products and services.’ The cognitariat always need to keep up to date with cultural developments near and far, including the elusive hunt for ‘cool’. So coming back to that Chicago sociologist specializing in these matters, Richard Lloyd simply isn’t buying the ‘Creative Class’ tag for just anyone, seeing an unearned valorization. Here’s a group celebrated as much for being close together than any actual produc-
    • Schulman 22 tion. Though you can be sure Florida knows about Lloyd’s work, the latter squarely jabs at the term Creative Classer, arguing them at their worst to be but “latte-sipping weekend dabblers who want to live like artists but without the real sacrifices” (Huebner 2005). The stars, the ‘sceney-ness,’ the name-y nature of it all, all these associa- tions long for a physical proximity. But Proximity is not the new Production, it just longs to be. It’s a bit like a rat race 2.0: finder’s keepers to the nth degree. Hold on to your Kindles, loose lips sink hip strips - once the ‘still unspoiled’ wherever, whenever, is scruti- nized and informatized, it becomes in sync, in motion, in grasp. The coolest place is, of course, the one you’ve never heard of, and so too of course never been. But you’ll try to get there first all the same. Everyone on that wavelength does. So more and more, Creative Classers must become cybergetic no- mads, trapezing through an intensified hunt for the prestige of so- cial and physical place, especially when the two are conflated. Let’s hear some of them out. As less than mainstream graphic designers, higher in a mobility of cultural capital rather than financial capital, David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey state that, “it’s just as simple, as we get paid when we work, and we are selective about what to work on and who to work with” (Lovett 57). This does a good-job at explain- ing post-Fordist3 ‘flexibility’ from the inside, but what they end up glorifying is living paycheck-to-paycheck, only on holier terms! Sure they’re retaining their cred, but are they retaining just cred, or debt too? As Florida himself mentions, many “self-employed” feature in unsexy categories most gritty not glossy: “students and the elderly working part-time, and office temps, day laborers and seasonal farm workers” (The Rise of the Creative Class 106). He also leaves out the implication of student service-jobs and the ramifica- tions of students fresh out of undergraduate and graduate art school making up some of the pre-gentrification ranks. But as members of Gen-Y, Florida is, of course, still keen to figure out where they well might drift. Though in a recent BusinessWeek article he copped to admitting, “twenty-somethings are on average three or four times more likely to move than forty- or fifty-somethings,” he hardly 3. Follow ing Fordist mass-standardi zat ion, Post-Fordism “re fers to the c reat ion of a more spec iali zed and rapidly changing market place that necessitates the use of more f lex ible/responsive for ms of produc- t ion if consumer demands are to be met ” ( Williams 285).
    • Schulman 23 judges them on it (“Why Certain Cities Attract Gen Ys”). Florida and Co. have been getting away with this for some high time now, and could for a while yet. All this while, propagators of this class keep their shields on high. The United Kingdom has its own governmen- tal branch to deal with this issues - the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, who simply remind us that “everyone is Creative”! (Culture and Creativity). But the UK goes for the widest swath pos- sible to make that agreeable, incorporating a thirteen-tiered specific model. You do not find Florida’s renditions of separations pitting the most ‘super creative core’ against others - that gap is made abstractly and unnecessarily. Instead, you practically find: 1. Advertising, 2. Architecture, 3. Art and Antiques, 4. Crafts, 5. Design, 6. Designer Fashion, 7. Film and Video, 8. Interactive Leisure Software, 9. Music, 10. Performing Arts, 11. Software and Computer Service, 12. Pub- lishing, and lastly, 13. Television and Radio. This first Governmental mapping of Creative Industries lacks the easy, go-to Google Maps, but it’s just as democratized. Florida could learn from it, contra- dicting himself when he agrees that while “the service economy is the best support of infrastructure of the creative age,” he also firmly maintains “creativity is the great leveler,” which can and will overcome class differences (The Rise of the Creative Class xiv). The point is easier to make since he believes anyone can become cre- ative, not that everyone is creative already. Apparently then, while culture has always come from the ghetto, and so too does it still, now it also moves there. For so many to jump at the chance to go Creative, it must go there too! Like in the Japanese anime film, taking from English Philosopher Gilbert Ryle, where is the ghost inside the digitalized shell of the net - the essence of both unexchangable places and how we find them? (Ghost in the Shell). In our growing lack of ownership of media at its largest conglomerate self, does ‘transparency’ only mean that which is ‘Google-able’? If so, we are Google Gods birthing new results-as-creations in seven milliseconds, not days. As a vital life force of information society research, Manuel Castells predicted the “space of flows” in 1989, nearly twenty years
    • Schulman 24 before the advent of Street View two years ago. Even more so today, it seems we find ourselves in that flow without start or stop. And for urban computing, it especially seems that way visually. One easily figure 3g means three times faster than g , but never sees that speed anyhow, only recoils in its abscence. When I text message using Short Message Service (SMS), the phone company triangulates me and I am tracked, but in that tracking, I’m not sure where my phone signal is redirected from. I just let go and dive in. Mostly invisible or at least hidden physical infrastructure networks always complement the magic of Internet mapping, hiding like the film projector in its vested vantage on high. You know its there somewhere, projecting, and if you try hard enough, you can find the emanation some, but not with finality or totality. Afterall, ethernet hubs reside in the buildings known as ‘telecom hotels,’ the insides of which you normally won’t see. T1 wires crisscross underground, and cell phone towers are made up here in L.A. as hidden palm-trees, and wherever you are in whatever floriage marks your particular locality. It’s not just that the iPhone and other GPS units and technologies are coming to the fore with increasing hard space and lower costs than their first roll out. The process is much wider and weirder, because “the cost of the building blocks of all electronic activity— storage, processing, and bandwidth—has fallen so far that it is now approaching zero” (Gladwell 2009). Until most recently, the use of GPS reproduced a power and called it that power’s absence, by not owning up to the power of its technological privilege. It was the equivalent of knowing a special code you hesitated to give away, disguising its usage like that equally shrouded cell phone tower. The insularity of realms like ‘geocaching,’ a treasure-hunt incorporating navigational receivers, begins to feel softer and more understandable at the widest level when the iPhone is 99 dollars and at Wal-Mart. And given the photo uploading site Flickr allows uploading space in its free starter account, away we go! Hard-core users of Google Earth swap and add information on message boards ad nauseam, especially the official “Google Earth Community,”
    • Schulman 25 And since its release, the Maps page has been prominently linked from Google’s very front page, listed fourth in order even before their news site. Any average dabbler can find user-created maps eas- ily just by searching the engine as normal. The cartographic imagi- nation becomes at once synonymous with the cyber imagination on whole, for Googling is synonymous with web-using on whole. These pathways work in the most real of real-time: where the now is now, and where the space of flows takes a website from one far place to a more local router, to me, all just like so. As reality is augmented, it relies even more on a seemingly invisible infrastruc- ture, invisible like the others before it, and invisible like the internet still seems - but ‘twas never true all along. Ironically in this regard, today’s library feels very often private in comparison, with the more specialized the information the harder to access it without some privileged specialty. But anonymity can’t hold sway forever in a forever opening book, and the informatization of society is such a text. In the days we had so much natural landscape to wrangle, “by overpowering the wilderness mentally through exploration and mapping... settlers created a justification for their own existence” (Varnelis 8). Or put another way more generally, “maps are embed- ded in a history they help construct” (Wood and Fels 28). Now we have our own data-landscapes to jostle with - spending, as we do, as much time processing and organizing information as discovering it. And oh though we try otherwise, with no room or time for trial and error - just Bluetooth what you can, when you can, how you can. Presto, Whammy, Open Sesame! If anything, reducing the energy and effort to move between plac- es only makes the differences between those places more marked. If for no other reason this is because using so much from so many places truly forces us to rethink the eternal, that constant enun- ciation which just won’t quit: All is on the move, none at rest, and places must flexibly specialize to survive, just as the new economy would want it. While the arts live off the pretension of ‘insider knowledge,’ the creative industries do not, cannot. Unfortunately Florida overlooks this. Though he’s the Jesus of new, better, and best
    • Schulman 26 urbanity to cities now dying, his vision is less than all-seeing, unlike the eleven angles of those Street View shots. The debate ranges from ancient times, well B.C.C. (Before ‘Creative Class’) - how much does an environment create the creative, the forward-thinker, and how much do particular spaces really effect their processual meanings? Now of course not just whatever can happen wherever- you can’t pan for gold when it’s all gone, or strike for oil where it never was. But we’re not talking those things, neither scarcity nor manufactur- ing. When we’re dealing with creativity in the networked moment, we’re talking more about amenities that cities have to keep so to keep the mobile grounded and not on the move. The absence of the staid is how the game of ‘brain drain’ plays out - in the progression of fun and flexibility, and in the very honor of flight. No wonder an- other regional economist calls Florida the “Pied Piper of Urban No- mads” (2009). Florida is obsessed with the differences betwixt places just as he criticizes companies for not catering to C.C. and Tech-Age groundlessness. Its as if he doesn’t realize the majority won’t get the same ‘first-hand’ experience as he will in feeling out these poten- tial Creative City hubs, given all his speeches and workshop visits! Rather irksomely, he incentivizes, instead, a footloose agility while overlooking some of its darker nature. The investigation of the What and the Why and the Where and the How are all simply tied to one unit, the all-pervading Where of Google’s creation, which eats up the others, making itself un- questionable, and unreasonable to go elsewhere. Because truth be told, the first thing you did for yourself with Street View or highly detailed satellite-imagery was find your home, or return to where you were raised. It was the first thing you showed someone else how to do too. And you were glad to say you Googled it knowing that brand’s a verb too, were glad to lose yourself inside that, like an exerciser inside and amidst his most vivaciously huge Nike Swoosh. Being a Google God is this weird kind of elite digital life, a sym- bol of elite knowledge at the same time anyone can use it, just like anyone can run with their legs and Nike never owned that. On the nitty-gritty street-level, its vital that Nike wants to work you really
    • Schulman 27 hard in its Beaverton suburb of Portland while all the while work- ing to kep you as hip as any other Portland inner-city loafer. We let them have it both ways. Hell, it beats the incorrect stanza bestowed on its official logo- the City that Works. As the psychedelic musi- cian Adam Forkner (a.k.a. White Rainbow) joked, ‘Puddle Town’ is moreover the City that Looks for Work (XLR8R 2009). When my identity as a future worker in the arts is so expected and predicted, I feel stifled even in the joy I have of access. It is a feeling I have when I’m travelling on Street View, the bizarre neutrality of a sort- of experience without experience, a déjà vu that began somewhere virtually and so feels both real but nonexistent. As the Department Director of NYU’s Social and Cultural Analy- sis Program, Andrew Ross glibly knows better, retorting “if the cre- ative industries become the ones to follow, jobs, in short, may well look more and more like gigs; nice work if you can find it” (Ross, 2007, 19). Being that its a really nice gig, you don’t mind all the sub- sumption. There lies another dualism for this perceived Ghost in the Creative Machine: the bourgeoise and the bohemian! For the fabled duo are always squabbling, sometimes glaringly - the Ghost of the ‘Artistic,’ ‘Authentic,’ ‘Essential’ Essence in the Capitalist ‘Machine’ at war with Culture it wants to eat. Where David Brooks from The New York Times saw a conflation in his ‘BoBo’ (2001), Ross thinks its more complicated than that: “the world of the bourgeoisie always needed a bohemian underside, a sort of fantasy demimonde, just as the bohemians always needed the bourgeoisie to define them- selves against. And a lot of the culture that you find in the Internet economy is very much a reenactment of that century-old opposition between the bohemians and the bourgeoisie in an urban setting” (The Rise of the Creative Class 132). -The MFA is not the New MBA- For the fresh out of Art School Creative Classer, the first dilemma is if they can even accept themselves on such terms (unlikely). The
    • Schulman 28 second is being hit on both sides. If you ‘pretend’ to be poor when you’re not, you’re considered a Bohemian poser, and unsuccess- ful compared to your acquaintances from High School (not Art School), the ones that are now Doctors or getting MBAs. While valorized for their group intelligence, young creatives can just as well be denigrated for their groupthink. Suburban defender Joel Kotkin calls them “sophistos, and trendoids,” and for all intensive purposes, he calls me that too (2003). In such a light, such folk are out of step with the un-hip but normal single-family household that has up until more recently voted with its feet on its way out the city. On the way to cohesive identification, this Class is stuck on that trip, like the ‘yupster’ portmanteau blending yuppies with hipsters. While they’re supposed to ‘shake up’ the established city, they’re also to co-create that very establishment on their way up a new kind of working ladder. Creatives do not oft liken themselves as part of any ‘industry’ though; its bad for their specialized rep. So how about that ‘yupster’? Do they hold the power of both, with neither’s bur- den? Or are they more derided as ‘posers,’ accepted by neither? How can it be even remotely possible to prophesize the profundity of challenge within? This quest seeks a duel growth for both autonomy and progress, one where only the ‘right’ amount of commodification can be allowed. Since creativity is fluid, Richard Florida believes he can both sell bottled water and be an ice-company too. Even though a creative city is one that values its locality, he pushes a ‘glocalization’ where any city can be all the more a “Cool City” regardless of given spe- cifics, following his easy-peasy magic dance. The whole country is erupting in a wellspring of Florida lectures and city-planning initia- tives, swallowing our Google Map of hotspots with ‘Cool Places’ vy- ing for the hearts and minds of those like yours truly. Since “artists both produce and consume their own work,” Florida and Co. over- estimate the largeness and growth of a consumer-audience of niche items (Cowen and Tabarrok 232). They will such growths to exist even though the stats may be misleading, making consumers and producers separate when they shouldn’t always be. But since “play-
    • Schulman 29 wrights, artists, producers, and musicians often rely on the altruism of others to advance their projects or careers,” if Florida’s Creative Class is the new Silicon Valley boom, pre-bust, it needs just as much risk venture capital (Bridge 70). The man fails to mention this, but how?, for whom could forget such a bust considering our own today? Also completely removed from the Creative City’s development plan is the buffer of economic support supplied by surprising sources: “French painters who lived from family wealth include Delacroix, Corot, Courbet, Seurat, Degas, Manet, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Moreau; the list of writers includes Baudelaire, Verlaine, Flaubert and Proust” (Cowen and Grier 8). Surely we can valorize creativity without over-amplifying it’s economic ability or overlook- ing these dilemmas. To do otherwise is to ignore centuries-laden critiques in and through aesthetics and money. The faster metabolism of user-tagged photos and smartphones will certainly speed up the process for all the demographically- inclined headhunters. But as a global figure in perpetuating the ‘creative economy’ John Hartley reminds us, “in culture as in busi- ness, the most radical and interesting stuff starts in garages and small rooms” (Creative Industries 140-141). It’s hard to imagine tech dynamo Hewlett Packard starting in a suburban Palo Alto garage, while sadly easier to imagine the ones that didn’t, including all the ‘garage-bands’ lost in the swell of MySpace. As Hartley agrees, coming to a close, “and lots of this creativity stays in small rooms” (141). Historically, “the process of GIS data capture, as it is known, is slow, expensive and frequently tedious,” taking far and well longer to build up than to later share (Gregory and Ell, 41). But how will this change when creating is much in the same process as providing, the very same thing as sharing, as in a capture model of a networked urban mobility? You can pretty simply hack the .KML Google Earth and Map files others give away for free, and merge them with your own, but where can we claim ownership of the geospatial data to begin with, anymore so than on land as older Native tribes argued? I worry that without responsible data visualization, a through and through transparent society means everyone believes themself
    • Schulman 30 keeper of all stats up on high, just as they too are lord of their You- Tube playlists. What you know about ME through the internet is doubtfully any more or less than what I know about YOU through the internet. And whatever I want to think, I can find confirmation of. So we feel like experts on each other, when we don’t necessar- ily have any hands-on experience! Cat and Mouse, Mouse and Cat, Mouse and Mouse, or Cat and Cat? Who will separate the geo- tagged wheat from the geo-tagged chaff, and even more pressingly - will we or won’t we? -In An Immaterial World - If data is to extend reality, we must here and now extend reality with our questions on politics and space! As a speculator charting the growth of a central district might put it, “good neighbors make good values,” but for those with less choice in the matter, ‘good fences make good neighbors.’ Going beyond the business side of it, if we’re to respond to strangers - an Other, any Other, through an “embrace, an act of love,” why does ‘neighborliness’ feel sporadic? (Spivak 5) The ingratiation of consumer outreach into smaller and smaller niche groups brings both sympathy and skepticism. Which ‘Mediascapes’ can be controlled from the bottom-up in the spaces of the Experience Economy, and how will this be attained? (Appadurai 45) Moving to a new neighborhood is not as easy as subscribing to an Really Simple Subscription feed (RSS), but the motion of infor- mation flows just as well; behold its berserk commotion! This kind of ‘MySpace Urbanism’ is still for Princes, not Paupers, with a rollout as yet too limited for we who take it for granted (De Waal 2008). To that point, in 1999, the United Nations Children’s Fund referred to total internet usage worldwide as a “global ghetto” (UNICEF). To this we can’t ask where are we?, without also asking, what way out? So by myself correlating users of the internet ‘global ghetto’ with the discovery of actual ghettoes, and the clustering within them pre-gentrification, I am not asserting a causal relation.
    • Schulman 31 That would be like taking Florida’s research of urban areas with high amounts of gays, technological companies, and patents, and further ascribing it was these same gays that, in part, led to all the rest. Or it’d even be like believing that exactly those who work for the tech companies AND make the patents are the migrating gays! The relationship is far more subtle, because the tools can be used for such diverse purposes. You can’t always predict where the spin- ning wheel will stop. But as footloose personal mobility becomes an increasingly prominent organizing principle of the City, then personal computing, the Creative Class, and Gentrification are all lobbed together, living in correlation. While in no way a sufficiently complete answer, technology is a key differentiation of what the Creative Class does, and wants to do. It works like a gateway, infil- trating the moat of poverty in a less mired way. Not surprisingly there’s a connection between the un-banked and the un-networked, the processes by which losers of the game are made less visible. In spite of everything, though access has grown in those 10 years since the comparative “global ghetto” term, it still remains far from the reaches of the planetary many, tethered back by lack of financial agility. In this way, you would think the use of Information and Communication Devices of Ahead-of-the-Curve Creatives would slow down their showy usage if they saw some- thing to protect. But they have to illustrate the hipness while very protecting it. In the eyes of the U.N. Development Program the situation is already dire, for “the network society is creating paral- lel communications systems: one for those with income, education and literally connections, giving plentiful information at low cost and high speed; the other for those without connections, blocked by high barriers of time, cost and uncertainty and dependent upon outdated information” (63). If an open-minded area is needed to be an initiator of progress, a less than diverse or open-minded solution is required. With the clin- ical precision of medical language, it moans: more gays and bohemi- ans, stat! This ignores the fuse to a city’s dynamism - the unbounded inability to reduce it to any one thing, farther along “to that vaster
    • Schulman 32 and properly unrepresentable totality which is the ensemble of the city’s structure as a whole” (Jameson 51). Its not ambivalence or hatred towards cybercity creatives to think they’re not the only interesting things around. I mostly fault any equation with a deficit of defeat, one whereby creativity alone can put an area on the map. Any information newly accessible in the digital sphere of place still comes from flesh. Geographies can never escape vision or hear- ing, which means they can never escape the mind, nor the body. This is why Heidegger questioned what the “presence of technology” was “in itself,” not merely in connection to other processes (Basic Writings 314). We can’t deny the connection to materiality - the mushiness of the hand holding the iPhone, the ‘internet of things’ as it’s grouped in both and in motivation. We also cannot deny the existence of GPS as a language and social currency could not exist without the glue of commerce and the military- the first, for its initiation of soft and hardwares, and the second for its satellites. The blending of software and hardware in the public market with private military research brings up a model to note - the existent Neoliberal mode of altogether new meldings of public and private. If a GPS unit fell from someone’s hands in the middle of the woods, would anyone hear it? Its placement would be just as absolute and ‘above’ us, whether used by its inventors the humans, or not, but who are we to say?, and how are we to know? I know I use satellites daily because I’m one of the lucky ones, a real wired fool, but the knowledge of this seems beyond me, just like those signals beam- ing down from afar and up high. More and more of this virtual infrastructure I have to take on trust, a kind of sewer in the sky - I could use the visuals for evidentiary proof, but what’s the point - if it works it works. I know there are clouds in the sky when I feel the rain on my shoulders, I don’t need to know the exact source. With what French theorist Jean Baudrillard calls the ‘satellization’ of so- ciety, in-house entertainment and GPS may be put into global orbit, but not global communion (1994, 35; 1987, 105). When this same media philosopher compared cinema to the landscape of America, in his book titled the same, he fathomed that “to grasp its secret, you
    • Schulman 33 should not, then, begin with the city and move inwards towards the screen; you should begin with the screen and move outwards towards the city” (1989, 56). But now the city can become cin- ematic on the command of an iPhone camera: instantly made a set-piece, tagged and sorted like a Film Location Scout database. While the playing field of Google Earth can allot a fairer playing field of information circulation, it cannot necessarily follow up on that, providing what defining theorist Frederic Jameson proposes as a counter to alienation in cities nationwide: “the practical recon- quest of a sense of place” (51). Only what Jameson calls ‘extrater- ritorial’ - nature, can simply be, seen but not taken, existing outside a geographic and perception-dependency (49). In any case, “nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. ... They are organs of the human brain, created by human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified” (Marx 706). Networked Geography is knowledge objectified on top of nature, a newer technological construct on top of older place finding. So be- ing, it is always both an Aesthetics and a Politics. Far from being the concerted control of the clean and new replacing the messier sides of the city, this whirlwind melange of source and intention is increasing the messiness of group and personal urbanism. But long before its increasing ease of travel and imagery-manipulation, English map-makers inscribed the edges of the known with fear - they predicted “Here Be Dragons!” But with increasing geomatics,4 the fear is not whats left unknown, but that anywhere would be left unknown at all. There’s a huge difference between the banality and fun of using .KML files or maps embed- ded to web pages - ‘spatial data,’ versus the technical expertise and equipment needed to determine ‘space data.’ The first may be as simple as a first Street View for your first glance. The second isn’t necessarily visual, and can include all of the above: the GPS data the military uses for assisted-missile strikes, industrial weather balloons that assist meteorologists, or environmental physics and study of the Earth on whole. Like the persistent weight on Atlas’ shoulder, internet technologies have been attacked as anti-place 2. De f ined: ‘new digital infor mat ion technology that analyzes and manipulates geographical images’
    • Schulman 34 so long as they have ever existed. Accused of being non-spatial, they’re perceptively conceived as ambient without weight or smell, and, more archaically, touch or tangibility (given the iPhone). The net has thus variously been derided as an “empty meeting ground” (Urry 39) which is “killing location” (Wheatley 2001) through the “death of distance” (Caincross 1997). Though MIT Professor Wil- liam J. Mitchell agrees we are “in a state of continuous electronic engagement with their surroundings,” he still proscribes the Net as “fundamentally and profoundly antispatial” (ME++, 2, City of Bits, 8). Homi Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard, even defines the virtual as “ ‘partial’ presence... ‘incomplete’” (The Location of Culture 123). Its hard to find equilibrium herein, when such a diversity of uses still only gets ad-hoc associations. As the arguments of our friends continues, if global capital subsumes time and space for its will, removing it as an obstacle, it doesn’t enliven place, it ‘reduces’ it, makes it malleable only by turning it abstract and even less genuine. And if the buck is virtual, it won’t ever stop for it to stay free. It can’t, and neither can location, inexhaustibly existing amidst exchanges of imagery and goods which are never at rest. Markets don’t just want to move objects from as far afield as can be fielded fruitfully, but they want to do it as fast as possible. Out of the woodwork comes the ephemeral. Instead of being picked for their challenge, locations are picked to confirm, they are made, part and parcel, into operations, and they are done so in this manner through an abstract space. A major detriment to this net is the vis- age of fluidity when there is none - a seeming abundance of liquid logic really only being liquid: easy to find, but not to digest. Whatever other joys it does provide, finding a place is not ques- tioning it, nor answering it, neither a Columbus Day nor an Indig- enous People’s Day as radical response. Since physical place now spirals out towards the tangential, socio-technical implications of technology are always too socio-spatial- from the telegraph to e-mail, from the neighborhood to the individual. And when the only true accuracy is within pinpointing numbers, all uncharted myster- ies turn unchartable, suffering a disastrous fate as consequence -
    • Schulman 35 omission as a science itself. But be all this as it may - all-encompassing, all-pervasive, all-at- once, to talk of this now-digital capitalist globalization is framed as if its the universe’s simultaneity all at once - an impossible con- jecture and moreover a complete overstatement of the network in everyday life. In the end, you don’t dream on the Internet, you still have to ‘plug in,’ your mind-set meshed to the experiences of the ‘datascape.’ Either way it makes sense for city-planners to listen to Richard Florida when he privileges these privileged datascape navigators, and for why he is worth returning to now. By following them around as a study unit, he always is truly following, evaluat- ing their locational desires and decisions as part of their lifestyle desires and decisions. To do so is to get behind that way because it is the profitable way of ways, that, beyond anything else. But getting mad at ‘enclaving’ in and of itself, Immigrant or Artist, one Class or another, is like getting mad at car dealerships always being beside one another - its just a form of networking. Industrial Manufactur- ers do the same thing, as in the Toy Districts of Downtown L.A. or Guangzhou, China. They do so as a way to engage and subsist with one another, as well as compete and leapfrog. But though to an ex- tent a freshly migrated and minted Creative Class area is an enclave like any other, religious or ethnic, it is far more temporary. And in such a regard, these places become exchangeable, with the ability to plug-in to them only temporarily, like the WiFi at once cofeeshop versus another. In a physical analogy, Creative Classers and their neighborhoods are like airports, whereby “today’s airport is only partially connected to the environment around it. It is directly connected with other airports with which it is linked in an increas- ingly vital network” (Friedman 169). These travel realms are proces- sionals of distance which are divested of much real energy or life, what Marc Auge has called a ‘Non-Place’ (1995). These are places we both are, but aren’t- physically present, but mentally much less so. While illustrating our technological superiority at how far we’ve come, they still feel flat simultaneously. So while the very essence of network hubs might make them seem all the more centralized, hubs
    • Schulman 36 in fact cannot stand still. Like airports, they don’t feel at rest, for they never can be. And so too, nothing mechanically mass repro- duced can stay on unchanged forever, nor saunter on sluggishly. This shouldn’t be news, regardless of whether it is or not. The real news? Not that revitalization is an economic term more than a cultural one, but that cultural workers could themselves be the prime exem- plar of the first category while furthering the second. That’s the real surprise, for me, at least, but it’s one barely registering as Florida gets tacked on to every urban geography and planning paper left and right, quite literally (for a hard-core liberal critique, see Peck 2005, but for a hard-core conservative critique, see Malanga 2004). Like that .RSS feed modulating through the day, criticism of both C.C. changes and the eternal flux of the network gets mired down in a disappearing act. Let’s take the ‘writer’s retreat,’ for a moment, as a kind of live/ work blend to note. Here we’re presented with a mythic disper- sal, but one we allow the artist, or a homogenous group of artists, though we’d find it more questionable with other homogenous groups. The creative impulse is given the benefit of the doubt on in- terest, ‘paying up’ comes later. But this nonetheless is never painted as darkly as a racist ‘White Flight.’ The perceived innovator is al- lowed to take a step back to take a step forward, somehow ‘outside’ society, yet ahead of it. Or just take the spatialization inherent in the term ‘far out,’ which like ‘creative,’ for some damned reason, is almost always considered the same thing as productive, progressive, and positive. There’s larger differences between the neighbors of hip neighborhoods in American urban centers than between those hip neighborhoods themselves- the Puerto Rican grit of Chicago’s Humboldt Park beside the hipper Wicker Park, and the El Salva- dorean grit of L.A.’s Westlake beside the hipper Echo Park have a singularity the hipper monoculture nearby can start to erode, what- ever other horror stories we can find there. Creative Class geography becomes just a hunt, then - a quest to get a taste of multi-culturalism before it gets too highly commodified and falls apart and away. So why does ‘difference’, heterogeneity, always seem as bright a word
    • Schulman 37 as ‘creative’? Meer plurality alone does not necessarily entail a safe, fully-functioning existence, just one harder to classify than the nearby ‘up and coming’ zones. Soon-but-not-yet areas are essentially secessionist in one way or the other, usually in one way, and then another. That is to say, first and most disturbingly, they are chosen only through poverty, by their lack of choice, availability as the true necessity. In a dif- ferential mobility that’s as old as salt, this includes all the dredge, muck and shit that’s ‘put up with’ by those not involved in it. These concerns are variably ranked depending on the group, but crime is surely the worst, and blighted aesthetics surely as prominent. These zones are derelictions - not of duty, but of prerequisite boons and prominence - be it in business, socially or culturally. They are seen, like the hippies that might later fill them, as unproductive, even unemployable. Remote by design, these nabes are purposefully isolated. And while they are victims and contain victimized let us be fair: they are wolf and sheep both. Rent Control can keep gangs generationally protected, like the “Satellite House,” a nerve center of Northeast L.A. trafficking at 3304 Drew Street, only recently taken down after 20 years of drug trading. But those uninvolved who only suffer from gangs also only suffer from the collective punishment of disinvestment. On the latter end of things, they ‘put up’ with the drivel because toleration is a dish eaten most when left no other choice - the swimmer’s assured path through dire straights. While the C.C. is defined as living amidst “indigenous street-level culture, . . . where it is hard to draw the line between participant and observer, or between creativity and its creators,” Florida avoids the fact that these motions come of-the-moment, not afterward (The Rise of the Creative Class 166). His data-turned-speeches- turned-nationwide-urban-policies are anything but indigenous, try- ing to capture the elusive ‘cool’ so many ad and branding firms hire ethnographers for, and just as after the fact. In both cultural choices and neighborhoods, trendsetters will take the very kind of detours that sometimes become dead-ends - the ones Urban Studies can’t grasp on to strongly enough because of their stature as anomalies.
    • Schulman 38 We can find anomalies as we may, but its hard to say where the next group of groups may cluster up together. That won’t and doesn’t stop the Developers, whose quest for signposts is legendary wherever they may fall. Particularly assessed are ‘third places’ meaning those spaces that question the clean division of home and work, being neither but incorporating both. The coffeehouse was prophesied as a predictor and creator of a good, organic urban neighborhood even before the C.C. ever was (gasp!), and the funkier the better. Maybe it just took this long for the new knowledge workers to get their placement as impresarios, instead of just being considered the consumers of said stimulant, in stimulating fashion. But “we just have to be careful to not ignore entire communities because of our limited geography,” argues political scientist Jason McDaniels (Ber- mudez 2009). For one, the historian of urban development Carl Ab- bott is realistic about how we go through space day-to-day, because “indeed, each of us knows and uses certain parts of the metropoli- tan area and ignores others, living in regions of our own devising,” calling these “personalized spatial worlds” (10). While these ‘zones’ of attention certainly always existed mentally, walking while text- ing makes everyone else who walks by you more aware of them. Annotations in cyber-space make up a ‘DigiPlace’ that’s hard to place (Zook and Grama 2009). But it is no doubt its own kind of third place, neither here nor there exactly, but a bit of both. So if Human-Computer Interaction (H.C.I.) isn’t a party of two, it sure feels that way as we take our partner laptop with us into the neither-home-nor-work coffee shop. And though we criticize the process when Big Boxes ‘stifle’ and ‘strangle’ mom and pops, estab- lishments like Wal-Mart “seem to be everywhere and unique to no place, be it rural town or urban neighborhood,” just as the Net seems hardly that far off, a conglomeration existing “nowhere in particular but everywhere at once” (“Big Box Retail”; City of Bits, 8). The chain-store exists more as a stabilized ideal than a particular physicality. Despite local variables of its managers and employees, the rest consists of the same hues, flavors, and smells that custom- ers can get anywhere else. A pre-packaged localism is akin to the
    • Schulman 39 Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants throughout the Southeastern U.S. Wanting to be home-y, their mountain-y grit and grits is turned kitsch. Is it any wonder the CEO of Starbucks recently indicated, “ . . . we have never set out to be cool. We don’t want to be cool, we want to be relevant” (James 2009). Taken together, while “a burgeon- ing coffee scene may be essential to becoming a hipper hood,” for every single winner, there are many losers- the ones which have come and gone (Pervaiz 2008). The only victories of those now-de- ceased boho scenes are their re-idealization into significant cultural histories. On balance, what does ‘local’ mean when next to NASA or the NSA, it is mobile Wal-Mart which maintains one of the largest da- tabases in all the world? As the retailer’s VP of information systems admits, “our database grows because we capture data on every item, for every customer, for every store, every day” (Babcock 2006). Radio Frequency Identification, or simply ‘RFID,’ is the use of radio waves for tracking, of which Wal-Mart is one of the biggest incubating investors.Stasis may reign on the outside, but the inner workings of such a power-chain adapts incredibly. With its immense inventory, its economy of scale would be enough to push it over the preferen- tial edge, but this control of inventory through spatial information is even more startling. Unlike this stricter sense of definition, the always instabilizing Internet is one which is constantly particular- izing, updating, modulating: a kind-of blighted neighborhood made anew every second. -Where To Next?- Just like any other aspect of life now digitalized - personal, neigh- borhood-based info can easily be found in overwhelming digital space but its not always alive in an archive, just inertly open. While old buildings either rehab or rot, doing so takes time - they are so predominantly pre-digital only a Street View makes them feel less on the ground and more off of it. Digitality is seen as a new skin for
    • Schulman 40 architecture, but still just that. In that case, closed-neighborhoods and closed-down production need an open book, or in the terms of today: open-content! The old truism “everyone is from somewhere,” holds up, but let’s face it, the question for the cool creative cybercity is to which neighborhood did everyone choose? Or is it flock? Be- cause finally the original choosers who chose best were the bohe- mians. They saw something we capitalist squares weren’t capable of, but now can capitalize on. Bohemia itself was never powerful as a regional power nor mas- sive sect, like a Spain or a Western Europe. It was merely two-thirds of the Czech Lands, one micro-niche. Like the newest micro-brew imports from small areas pitted against each other, the area’s conno- tations exist as much for what they are as for what they’re not. The connotation for creative-types holds for much the same reason - the ‘artist’s colony’ is just a glorified name for some tee-pees grouped together, an enclave, not an empire. Concocting urban creatives as a global turn for the better provides a launchpad to deal with net- worked locality. If the Creative Class is really so valorized that we can let them leave society and report back, Street View is a cop-out akin to Thoreau’s family bringing him food. That being said, influence is not physical- it can’t be measured, weighed, pushed into taxonomy. The influence of a small amount of artists can only grow with time, resuscitating the slowing breath of obscurantism. You can’t watch the advertisement for the prime new service on prime time in prime real estate in the age of the sub prime crisis. But you can primely position yourself to be an ‘early adopter,’ ahead of the curve, the Thoreau Thoreau wanted to be, without the extra help. And, hell, we can’t fault him for trying. So when even a bad reputation keeps you alive in the insufficient broadcast news cycle, any talking-head is an expert by that very virtue therein, and most places are blown way out of proportion from the same self- creating aspect. The overt over-repetition comes upon our need to overly self-justify. Relying on personal assistants to schedule and mold reality is nothing new, but now we try to soothe it, taking to the trails with androids. That must be why professor Hans Geser
    • Schulman 41 demeans all cell phones as “pacifiers for adults,” a sort of locational inferiority complex where you’re always the child at the center of at- tention (2006). When we’re always within reach of our every whim, the intensification of speed across time and place doesn’t necessarily mean we control more, simply because we continue to have more to control, or sense we are more in need of it. Ours is a mobile com- munications society ordered not just by highly-selective sociality but also a substantial control of our media selections. We must be certain not to ever feel uncertainty and controlling all of our media selections helps us feels that way. With designer clients, the smaller the start-up, the more space for experiment, in almost exact proportion to the constrictions of a boutique-y budget. Situated amidst other cultural beacons abstract- ly, and many times clustered among them literally, places of the sort create a pop, but just as often can quickly sizzle. Steadily increas- ing word-of-mouth is best built up for free. For the initiators, the first-wavers, what an emerging Bushwick, Brooklyn sculptor Kim Holleman called “the real people who altered the spaces and made the community what it is,” low-overhead doesn’t give much space for ads (“Bushwick Emerges”). But when nothings put in, much can still be taken out. Holleman both “considers herself something of a pioneer,” and chastises a “second wave of artists” (ibid.) Of course, of course, she backpedals, following up by saying “I don’t want the original community that was here to ever go away... I don’t want to homogenize anything” (ibid.). As we can see, even the ‘pioneer gentrifier’ tries to one-up the other competing ‘pioneers’ (see Barnes 2000 for more on Bushwick). Florida leaves out this natural flow, the fact that no one wants to get the blame for a larger group’s issue. These are ‘unique’ individuals let’s not forget! Only a Central Com- mittee, like Portland’s transportation agency, has managed to most avowedly keep ‘slowness’ imbued in the ‘compact city,’ hence P.J. O’Rourke’s chiding of the car-hateful place as a “cozy gulag” (“The End of the Affair”). To live with plentiful creatives, cities stumble. They ask themselves how to stay traditionally grounded while grow- ing in prestige and capital. How is it in a city’s interests to not grow
    • Schulman 42 exponentially without end, but to actually maintain and manage a veneer of affordability? To not allow the dynamism of unfettered change would be disqualified as unfree, even downright uncapital- istic. Part of swapping the suburban for the urban is trading an imme- diate lack of space in exchange for access, the potential spark of wid- er resources. In small home places in bigger home cities, your nearby community becomes a sounding board, an exchange, an incubator, as you involve yourself in that community the more and more you go along. You have to! Stir-craziness can run rampant either way but a bedroom community helps you stay put while the city’s entertain- ing amenities were never meant to. You have to zone out to zone in. Instead of reality ‘taking a break’ for the sitting-down desktop model, the reality of the virtual stops being the only commotion in the room the more interactively it moves with you. -Uploading, Upscaling, Uprooting- Here lies the conundrum of embedding the local in a simultane- ously global system online: any place within your vicinity cannot actually be visited anywhere outside that vicinity, but the informa- tion lives anywhere it can be accessed, vicinity-wise or not. A swath of homogeneity embeds in heterogeneity while hoping vainly to maintain that Other. Coupled with the fast-moving urbanization where more than half the planet now resides in cities, globalization is said to have “rendered national states extinct and local ‘places’ and their inhabitants vestigial” (Hannigan 2006b 151). But this ‘lack of place’ isn’t happening without a fight to the death. After Austin, Texas first rolled out its model slogan “Keep Austin Weird,” it soon became ‘franchised,’ just like the 3 Burger Kings in your zip code: numbers 3,000-3,003 (On Creative Austin, see Long, 2009). Keep Weird campaigns erupted across the country, from Boulder and Portland to Missoula, Montana, continuing to expand as if there wasn’t some particularly individual way for each city to keep its
    • Schulman 43 character except comparing itself to all the others doing the same. The original Austin campaign website sells this as a “collaborative fission of coordinated individualism” (“Keep Austin Weird”). But that’s like the Bank of America in L.A.’s Chinatown. While it resides in a traditional pagoda, its architecture is meaningless compared to its always transnational states of connection. Radical geographer David Harvey ascribes to this process the following thought- “in exactly the same way that imported beers coexist with local brews, local employment collapses under the weight of foreign competi- tion, and all the divergent spaces of the world are assembled nightly as a collage of images upon the television screen” (301). The generic ascription ‘Creative’ can work just as neutrally as the generic ascrip- tion ‘Local’ - and what’s weird is entirely subjective. If Austin be- came more like an L.A., that might be the weirdest way of all. Dollar Stores and Kentucky Fried Chicken can enthrall a Frenchman used to fresh, artisinal bread. As well, since user-created Google Maps seem so embedded in the now, place finding is wrapped up in place-history only towards the shortest shrift - the least challenging information. Yet again, the mega-chain meshes the global into the local in the most appeasing and least-threatening manner- local on the outside, but always forever ‘glocal’ within. Keeping anything weird in exact due proportion to how it’s always been is nothing but regressive. It turns homes, ‘hoods, towns and counties into nations, their denizens protectionist, their man- ner jingo-istic. In short, they become like the last holdouts of the South - confederate flags still shining blithely above the porch. Perhaps we should say ‘Keep Google Earth Weird,’ because the way our virtual discoveries are un-trenching the unfathomable plurality of the planet is the queerest thing of all. With niche user-created communities particular to any city, such as the message-boards of, one partakes in a key to the ‘information economy,’ that most complicated ritual of data analysis. The quest for self through data consumption means the creative can move to a city for the job as much for the city itself (at least anywhere but Manhattan). Such glorified possibilities for place
    • Schulman 44 discovery would never be as easy before the Internet, nor as prob- lematically. Trend-setting fashion articles pointing to you the secret, ridiculously hip Commes des Garcons ‘Guerrilla Store’ tell you what you need to know, but only in the manner of a morning report to the President: on a need-to-know basis only. This promotes the illu- sion of an importance unfounded beyond its elite circle: it’s in an al- ley, it’s hard-to-find. Cops don’t release information on gangs because it’s bad for business, so you’re not going to hear how close the store is to Skid Row, with its intensely hard hit miscreants living on the streets. But for the perpetually restless, a Guerrilla Store becomes a tourist adventure in edginess, pushing ahead by going behind com- fort, past the pall of normalcy. As the shopping and lifestyle manual Lucky magazine reveals, “L.A.’s downtown might be gentrifying, but it’s still the city’s grittiest neighborhood, which makes it the perfect backdrop for the only Comme des Garçons Guerrilla Store in the States” (Lucky). The store’s secret, its physical place, is one that keeps it ‘in the know,’ further fermented in informational space. Its only real home is symbology on whole, away from street-hawkers and gawkers and sheerly in a value-imbued locomotion. My problem is not with shopping at that store - I could care less. It’s with using your Google Map only for your own subjectivity, whereby the ol’ standby always applies: out of sight, out of mind. Visiting the Guer- rilla store won’t tell you the dirt behind the scenes. Where normally broken windows mark a divisive turn towards disinvestment, and cleaning them up the key to filling in the gaps, here the gaps are a perfect chance for reinvestment. But only of a kind, the smallest of small. I know what you’re thinking - well of course not. Even two people headed to the same subway stop can be completely unaware they work in the same building, sharing only inattention. Here lies an abrupt alienation by another name- unidealized, actually exist- ing cosmopolitanism. If New York is so wonderful because of its publicness, its very plurality embedded in the symbol of the Subway, why the fascination of residents there with ‘secret spots,’ exclusion- ary clubs, entitlement in all its merry trappings? You’re honestly
    • Schulman 45 telling me there’s no contest there? Bohemian territorialism, Haute- Couture territorialism, Gang territorialism, you name it - they’re all about ‘being there first’ but also ‘being there better.’ This process continues online because in our ‘very sophisticated consumption of place’ we act as producing/consuming ‘prosumers.’ One doesn’t choose where they are from, class-wise or geographic. Being place- specific is not the same thing as being place-responsible, and how could it? Since everything that happens happens in a place, when and where does place responsibility start? It is a void and neutral place to begin a discussion of a person not by saying where they live, but that they come from somewhere at all. Without context, geogra- phy is still just data. Yet to belong somewhere fights alienation, tech-associated groundlessness only prolongs it, giving into the milieu artist and critic Lucy Lippard calls ‘multicenteredness’ (1997). For what a series of Florida-esque economic reports by Impresa, Inc. and Coletta & Company call ‘The Young And Restless,’ its important to keep a certain level of discoverability - to both have the comfy nest, and exit it too, however far from the city’s economic core that might be (Cortright and Coletta). Unfortunately for the sake of uniqueness, these reports are disingenuously packaged in exacting standards across the board, having been franchised in corporate look and formatting for 8 separate cities in identical format, except for their data. Talk about local! In the unhinged market gracefully marketed as ‘The Ownership Society,’ one must fend for themselves as a ‘citizen-entrepreneur’ in an all-pervasive, all-permitting agora (Forman and Tucker 3). If that’s the case, the global is everyone’s local made up together, nothing more or less. Our age of flexibility is equally an age of the short-term and in-between - intensive project-times mean fast dead- lines, and fast work output to meet them, but also breaks and waits, if not stalls. In all essence, we have a dilemma of inconsistency, but a long-term result remains nonetheless true. The will to expand through economies of scale grows all the more through scales of information. Manuel Castells appraises the ‘Network Economy’ as
    • Schulman 46 one which “represents a new form of entrepreneurship in which the individual worker markets his or her human capital portfolio among various buyers” (1997). Keep in mind here, the changes inherent in the Internet Boom and Bust came to be represented by the physical pulse of said changes. The term Silicon Valley, to the exclusion of all else, was a named-place turned named-brand, not an abstract zone shared cross- country and world-wide. Once again, a flower rose from the cracked concrete with this mentality of proximity locked into its locational particularity. A stronghold, not a stranglehold, that Valley paved the way for future models, and a support for its branches of thought always underlie its connections to the C.C. This means the Design Freelancer as the new Company Man but a constantly moving one Moving from one job to the next, they are just like the companies themselves, post-industrialized, NAFTA’d and all. This is atomized individuation, and ironic since so many creatives are but ‘third-par- ty’ intermediaries, working betwixt clients and consumers. As such, tying ‘class’ to jobs is suspicious when so much freelance flexibility creates a chasm of stability. How can you construct the Company Man when there aren’t company towns anymore, only the prod of the lure? The best Private-Public-Market-State appeasement wins. And if, say, the maquiladora workers in Mexico out-cheaped Texas, how come the Texans themselves wanna jive with live concerts in Austin, celebrating edginess at the South By Southwest festival? You can’t dissuade the wanderlust of a Chief Financial Officer’s loca- tional picks anymore so than tech-workers. The ‘Next Best Thing’ has to always be up front, never behind, but this is shakey ground to walk on. Do we really just follow the cultural cachet to the follow the recruiting? Again, I can’t reiterate enough, how can a class-ethic exist across the board with such a gigantic sample? Where one sees a class, I see cliques. Largely unknown ‘studio musicians’ of yesteryear and today are a prime example of Capital gone Creative, and Creativity gone Capital. But workers of that ilk have their trade to itself, small journals and small worlds. Within each tribe, as with Graphic and
    • Schulman 47 Industrial Designers, are legions of front and back-stories, famed individuals, insights and highlights. So just imagine the C.C. as like a large Hollywood production. Studio musicians work on the score, Industrial Designers the set, Graphic Designers the opening title credits. So far, so good. But it’d be harder for all to collaborate productively then to produce on their own. Florida wants to see so- ciety as a screenplay for the taking, like a Hollywood Producer with the bottom-line always in sight. Enterprising people like that are well-needed, even vital, but they shouldn’t pretend to be societally minded on whole. I think a true symbiosis of class takes a kind of closer-knit cohesion, not the work of an editor in post-production. Today’s flexible model allows massive creations like films to come together without everyone coming together. In an informatized economy, learning and workers with others without even meeting them is not so unusual. What is unusual in today’s posturing and postulating for the Creative Economy is pretending its one unified thing, when its actually an incredibly disjointed other. - Of Waypoints And Workarounds- With the tool of Global Positioning aided by satellites, “rather than being tied up to an object or a building, here the information is a property of the Earth as whole,” nothing if not the ultimate in open-source languages (Manovich 2). Imagine the analogy of how you carry your cellphone. Though you can take it wherever you may go, you still must considerately turn it off in a library, class, theatre, or meeting. No one would deny your private rights, only question your level of commitment to a larger guiding goal, whether via man- ners or money. Reagan’s safety-net dismantling was sold through the argument of citizens needing to take care of their own. In such a prism, voluntary homelessness put government spending in a tight spot. As he countered in an infamous PR mishap, quoted in The Washington Post, “one problem we’ve had is the people who are sleeping on grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say,
    • Schulman 48 by choice” (Snow and Anderson 253). However, when the Creative Class self-selects their bohemianization, termed ‘voluntary sim- plicity’ or otherwise, they’re celebrated as harbingers of ‘what’s to come.’ For neighborhoods to stay disinvested would only mean less gentrification, it wouldn’t mean any less crime, or potential for new jobs, or overcoming the digital divide. The maelstrom is in some ways unwinnable. College grads are told to ‘grow’ to their capacity, to ‘apply,’ to live in ‘the real world’ by being entrepreneurs, as soon as they can, as best as they can. At the same time, the working-class are pushed towards a kind of ‘Bootstraps Capitalism,’ but largely go un-banked (Basu and Werbner). This is recipe for disaster when, for instance, 9 out of 10 homes built in 2006 by L.A. County were only affordable to people earning above $135,000/year - 12,691 of 14,000 Units (“Affordability Matters”). Across the country, in the upscal- ing Lower East Side, New York City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez bemoans that her constituency is “no longer a community that depends on rental, a community that would always be diverse. The implication is that it will be those who have the dollars to buy” (Hamilton 2000). The ability to shore-up investments, and own homes instead of renting them, is a forward defense against this particularly egregious aspect of global capital and technology’s mo- bility. But if we’re talking of the desire for mixed-class/mixed-race/ mixed-use, there’s no easy work-around. While the ‘dead zone’ of dropped calls in mobile telecommu- nications merely relies on the robustness of a furthering market to propel it, the equally ‘dead zone’ of the inner-city ghetto feels dishearteningly intractable, even downright so. Of all the contrasts between virtual and real geography, the most galling and fantasti- cal must be the hardened, unyielding ghetto of reality versus its mutable digital depiction. Roughly enough, we’ve yet to fully tackle a heart of the matter until just now. In the original paradigm of Eighteenth-century liberalism, gentrification is a sad but by no means surprising result of the free market’s flow. Rising costs can’t be stopped from an outside force, and by the very nature of the market’s allocation. Artists and the Poor don’t just get their very
    • Schulman 49 own slice of Communism when no one else does. While Florida has “taught us, even in this age of globalization and virtual geography, you are where you live,” the mantra seems to follow the older “it’s not where you’re at, it’s where you want to go,” but incredibly makes no mention of either (Fisher 2008)! It’s not popular to be determin- istic, land of opportunity and all that. But this isn’t an easy matter of give and take, it’s more like win-and-take. With many losers for every winner, where you’ve come from can very well affect where you’ll end up. I know I’m sounding dreadfully deterministic, but I’m not the only one. In an article “The Manipulative City,” in the Chicago artist’s manifesto, Trashing The Neoliberal City, one artist group writes that “gentrification reveals itself in the relocation of entire lower income communities out of the now coveted inner city” (Forman and Tucker). This is neither fair nor accurate. Displacement doesn’t always happen because of the upscaling of a neighborhood - because it primarily affects renters, not owners, it hits with variable strength. It should go without saying complete displacement is a vast overstatement, and to admit such is not to deny any sacrifices. This portentous current runs more strongly in certain cases than others, but oh when it does, its less a gullywasher and more a river rapid. The problematic contradictions of Gentrification are enough without the implicit knee-jerk reaction of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ In such a cleanly-lit illumination of the Creative City on the micro-scale, “gentrification is Goliath, the community is David,” and we all know how that story ends (Slater 2003 14). Moreover, we all know how we want that story to end, regardless of whether we be- lieve in that cruel Giant on faith or in fact. Both creatures to root or revile are done so mythically. Certainly, gentrification’s incredibly conflictual when there’s only so much space in the margins for the already marginalized - whether it be Gays and Blacks in the Olde Towne East area of Columbus, Ohio (watch the film Flag Wars), or Latinos and Blacks in South Central L.A. But is it also so determin- istic it’s become a zero-sum game, where only the names change? Equating gentrification in that picture is a sad inevitability, but just another natural one - an organizing that happens because people
    • Schulman 50 fight over scarce resources. Class and race are so tightly bound to- gether, wealthy whites might take the heat for Yuppie gentrification (young urban professional), when it is really Priviledge itself that should be debated, not just their White Priviledge - Power itself, not just their White Power. And whatever other golden intention they maintain, anti-racists cannot and should not overlook the provin- ciality of the human animal: clumping because we can, because we want to, because, given the choice, we want to pick and choose our neighbors. To actually be a poor Bohemian could just as well mean living simpler, regardless of your origins. No one chooses whom they’re born to, either way. The problem lies in the aestheticizing pretense, the constant charade which hides behind irony and complains about being priced out. Acting up to act out doesn’t mean you’re actually at the bottom of the barrel, at least not if you can jump right back on the bandwagon. Let those complain most stridently who move from their poor, gang-ridden ethnic enclave area to an even poorer one where the gangs will also go to. Let those complain most stridently be the ones on Welfare that aren’t working the system, the ones who never have. I understand the sentiment of fighting back crime in part through pricing it out. This happened in L.A.’s Silver Lake which in the 80’s was a bastion of both poor gays and gangs, and now a more-Eastern version of fancier Westside locales (Halle 414). But face it - its not like the muck and uncaught gangs were stopped just because they moved away. For artists on their move-in, pre-gentrified neighborhoods are put to an aesthetic criteria not unlike artwork’s pedestal - one that requires much more than a cursory glance. They don’t have the pick of the litter the way banks do. And so a process happens whereby the value of a place, like a work of art, cannot simply be valorized by the profits they yield. Because while a Damien Hirst can make important art and millions too, art history moreover bequeaths and loves the more burden-filled tragedies of commerce. The construc- tion of the ‘noble struggle’ outshines the Hirsts or (shock! easier target!) the Thomas Kinkades of the world, and those too are akin to
    • Schulman 51 the popular, far-but-obscure neighborhoods they ‘must’ shun. Now no one wants ‘bad’ neighborhoods which are not just aesthetically run-down but literally un-safe, unless they can use the area’s obscu- rity for cover. When an area like that is inhabited by the smallest of artists and ‘pre-gentrified’ in most every way, that’s because too much crime is bad for gentrification and everyone else, not just any of our creative allies. In the darkness of SoCal’s ‘sunshine noir’ lie less visible pleasures of criminality beyond the weather. The stuck and working poor who fight through their marginality by avoiding gangs are trapped either way. To the particularly well-heeled, such groups are avoided by being both less visible and “admirable” than the young and artistic following their trail. If edginess is desirable aesthetically, its more so, most so, when under a “controlled edge,” says U. of Toronto Sociologist John Hannigan (“Neo-Bohemian Rhapsody” 6). Hannigan is a colleague to both Florida and Stolarick, but obviously of a differing perspective than theirs. For exactly that reason, I really wish they would collaborate. Many artistic also want a surprisingly ‘old-school’ model but with a twist: the neighborhood-y city that’s just big enough, one ‘homey,’ ‘cozy,’ ‘walkable,’ ‘livable,’ full of independents and oddities. The L.A. art set likes the village in Atwater Village as much as it’s old money Hancock Park set likes the village in Larchmont Village. But in the first, much more so than the latter, there need to be dive bars and ethnic food, bike paths and street festivals- all the amenities and trappings catering to a mobile lifestyle. Whims don’t move at the speed of light but they do move as fast as the 3g S iPhone. Going further, urban scholars Stuart Cameron & Jon Coaffee stipulate, “what the artist values and valorizes is, though, more than the aesthetics of the old urban quarter. The society and culture of a working-class neighbourhood, especially where this includes ethnic diversity, attracts the artist as it repels the conventional middle classes” (2). Easy as a-b-c, a three-step model best illustrates the safety concerns of newly moving-in residents: “risk-oblivious,” the most gritty of all, then “risk-aware,” in the middle, but lastly “risk- averse,” the most glossy (Duany 37).
    • Schulman 52 Florida applies a One Size Fits All model if he believes the artist priming of neighborhoods through-and-through will successfully prime a wide variety of Creative Classers through-and-through. Many tech workers would vastly prefer the ‘Nerdistan’ suburb of a cloistered and wealthy Irvine over being closer to the inner-city (Kotkin 40). And so as for Punks as for Hipsters, Creative Classers, and all those ‘who are not their Parents’: “the only viable alternative for white kids uninterested in the American dream is to reject the privilege of their skin color by emulating the lifestyle of marginal- ized subjects safe from outside control to the extent that they can remain hidden from and ignored by the larger society like other oppressed social groups” (Traber 43). In an age of perceived overin- dulgence, wastefully foreclosed of fortitude at the verge of environ- mental bankrupt, self-marginalization works as a weird prestigious marker when its self-selected, but never otherwise. -Bordering- This game of parsing for land is about ducking and weaving cer- tain places, and well too about lines drawn in the sand. Some areas gentrify out of a simple-enough spill-over (‘conveniently located beside Silver Lake!’). In his book chapter “Spatial Stories,” philoso- pher Michel de Certeau illuminates this particular subset of a story as one of borders. Even at the very start, these lines of divide are contradictions - “created by contacts, the points of differentiation between two bodies are also their common points” (127). Bounding to go ‘where no one has gone before,’ the enterprising frontiersman is a Davy Crockett, but with more of Captain Kirk’s technology (even if that just means owning a car rather than relying on the bus, and not at all to do with Google Maps). As cocksure discoverer, crosser of bounded tracks both scrubby and scruffy, “this actor, by virtue of the very fact that he is the mouthpiece of the limit, creates communication as well as separation; more than that, he establishes a border only by saying what crosses it, having coming from the
    • Schulman 53 other side. He articulates it. He is also a passing through or over” (ibid.). As development follows artists, it bodes for an out-priced demise for their low-income haven neighborhoods of choice, for “in this process capital captures culture” (Bridge 109). That’s why Sharon Zukin, author of the landmark SoHo study Loft Living, is so prescient when she fills in the gap, talking about lags themselves: “when push comes to shove, culture has been an interim develop- ment strategy, useful in periods of uncertainty and risky develop- ment projects. Artists have been welcomed as “bridge” gentrifiers - but not as statutory tenants deserving protection when property values rise” (Zukin 1995 111). In this way, for landlords, “artists can act as free security guards whilst simultaneously rehabilitating a fal- low property and increasing its value” (Panos 8). In providing a dos- age of aesthetics-as-anesthetic, they freely-provide to a more central command post, the way online amateur contributors ‘crowdsource’ their own efforts. In such a manner, control is but non-control, one we are seduced by. Does it boil down to sexy poverty? Perhaps. But let me not be so quick to judge. I asked an eloquent Creative Classer - musician, critic and writer Nick Currie for a way out of this trap. He offered up this: I don’t think bohemian pover t y is either a f ront or an af f ront. It ’s really something ever yone does when they dec ide the opt imum point on a scale bet ween doing what personally f ulf ills them and doing what the world is w illing to pay them for. In other words, it ’s a compromise bet ween self-ex pression and ut ilit y to the communit y. To look at it another way, well-being is mult i-dimensional; you can’t just measure sat isfac t ion by money. T here are also things like happi- ness, self-ac t uali zat ion, self-ex pression, a sense of soc ial ut ilit y and ethical cor rec t ness to consider. Pover t y on the mater ial scale might be the pr ice you pay for wealth of ex per ience, c ult ural wealth, c reat ive f ulf illment, and so on. . . I think c reat ive people are of ten more nomadic and f lex ible than others, and can do that mobilit y bet ter than other groups. T hey don’t need to be too rooted, espec ially not in an age where their t r ue roots are likely to be in things like the inter net and their computer operat ing system (Personal Inter v iew).
    • Schulman 54 Thus, verbally, “Creative Class” is a bold attempt at ‘opening’ a discourse, but that’s all it amounts to: its an ill-fitting motivation for seeking this level of exactitude. I have never heard someone at all use the term to apply to themselves, not anyone, not my friends in Design, Art, Photography, Theatre, or Publishing. It seems a label applied after the fact, albeit thats not to say this is somehow un-natural. Its not really, for a band doesn’t call themselves a genre without strict self-promotion, the journalists later on do. But in a music-genre, that happens for a reason of armchair taxonomy, it’s not even at the more hard-core level of a historian. As Florida puts it rather imprecisely, “we are all creative beings” not just those who get paid for it (Badenhausen 2009). But it is the professionals, not the amateurs, who are supposedly this new Class, the latter linked to ‘love’ etymologically, not money. Just watch out for the whole she- bang, the quote in full - “we are all creative beings, and have the po- tential to contribute to the creative economy” (ibid.). Ouch. I guess we’re only to open our minds to creativity if we can economize it. Remember here that this is a man cited by thousands. It’s not that high-art, blue-chip galleries are ever trying to lose money represent- ing their artists by selling their artworks, or that artists are some- how less ‘sell out’ in their gallery system than designers are inside broader commercial circuits. At least, thats not exactly the way I see it. But not everyone who makes can make for that profit as the only primary goal, even though that money will need to come one way or another somehow. Until this conundrum is further understood and manipulable, the young and artistic will always juggle jobs they take just for the money, ones which are anything but creative, class, or career-oriented. These will remain largely just glorified service- jobs, like that standby cliche in L.A. of the ‘struggling actor’ whose really a waiter on the side. It takes a battle of competition in such a talent-bank as L.A. is for Actors, or New York is for Publishing and Graphic Design. Why would any move somewhere to think others would follow them? Why not go where the industries are already? If L.A. fears its arts and techno wunderchildren are leaving, it can try to draw them in with new amenities, a new burgeoning Echo Park
    • Schulman 55 or Little Tokyo and on and on. But that’s merely a matter of where particularly you will reside once you’ve already made the decision to move. Push comes to shove, if you’re a Creative Class actor outside L.A. and this is your one big shot to move, any investment in your human capital will presumably lead to a still pretty predictable out- come: you moving to be near the Hollywood industry. Especially given the “shrivelling, splintering and dispersal” of the Working Class, is the non-initiated Creative Economy ready for such an initiation? (Slater 2008) If they’re right, all promoters of the C.C. on whole have to accept the first relates to the second: that, while not necessarily leading to it, the service and working class nonetheless will have to migrate with, and to, the C.C. Where’s the outrage? This is far more major than some urban neighbor- hood examples of gentrification here and there, and strikes a stark prediction for how future technology could swell over the world even more in the quest to be more a creative economic globe. All the muckety muck of a crumbling, shrinking, Detroit can perhaps draw new bohemians but it can’t draw the kind of strong, centralized car industry of its past prime. Putting all the emphasis on what cities can do for you is avoiding societal involvement, any questions of the role of the good citizen. This but continues down the Free Mar- keteering idolatry of the self over society, whereby if “permanent communities become temporary residences of job seekers en route from one place to the next ... any sense of connection to place is lost” (Leon 2009). If this new class just spends on their way out, its not unlike a Hollywood Production on location: fun while it lasts, but sure shan’t forever. A powered frenzy can be applied to the literal and subjective positions of ‘the young and restless’ who will grow up into Creative Classers, or already are in Florida’s all-encompassing estimation. Danny Hoch, playwright and star of a one-man, gentrification- focused play, argues that these types are “ the new ‘resident tour- ist,’ ” because wherever they move out of love or potential to love, they are both in love with their decision but also “accustomed to the alienation or perceived impossibility of staying where they are”
    • Schulman 56 (Cohen 2008). Even in the financial crisis, isn’t this just the same old passing refrain, my way or the highway!? Returning to the most extremely opposite examples, how about perpetual groundedness which uses protection as a closure? In an age of the Blackberry WiFied access to almost anyplace at any time, in your hand, structured to your desire, “in the most extreme nega- tive scenario, public space might evaporate. People will use locative media to filter out serendipitous encounters as much as possible. This is a very defensive interpretation of urbanism, where people use technology to demarcate their space and refuse to let anyone else in – this is my space, now get out!,” not unlike how a dog marks its territory, or gang graffiti does the same (De Waal 2008). For any disclosed disalienation to really work wonders requires a practical power to succeed it, and that is a grave disappointment for lovers of spatial information. For, speaking on financial terms, what is there to do with it all? I can know more about the general crime gist of a neighborhood than ever before, even in a highly detailed way should I choose, as well as its rental rates, housing prices, and political ethos- but what of any ability to move on it? Location, location, location, yes, but for those who can, who would, who will. Otherwise, even the intransigent population, flightiest of the flighty, could have all they dream of. There’s a disarmingly commer- cial aspect that disorients even the poorest hobbyist - what is this newly graspable database of shared information about, if not ripe for the plucking? And if you largely use virtual realms for places you’ve never travelled, how is it you’re really going to be a power broker so easily? Part of why I Street View London is life is incredibly expen- sive there. While the Creative Class has a familiarity for wander- ing, it could very well capitalize more on that drift than any final resting place. If it comes and goes, it’s a shuffler. And like the vinyl in a hiply retro juke-box, the power of the Creative Class to select shuffles poverty and crime, never annihilates it. That those inten- tions can be put on the back-burner for serving commercial interests is nothing new, but there is something distinct with these groups of cosmopolitan travellers: as a group particularly concerned for effects
    • Schulman 57 on place, their radar is highly attuned. In the bigger cities, they are observed in their natural habitat like a herd we need to follow, but made to digress when overly ‘found-out.’ -Sunny Side Up- As the city takes on an interface, the city needs to maintain its pluralist face. The blighted city was pioneered before many Ur- baneers newly reclaimed it, but this kind of territorialism swings both ways. Bohemian territorialism always claims it was better, then. But speaking safety-wise, logic points otherwise, because for developers and the government, cleaner streets and fatter tax coffers would say its better now, and it’s looking up, sunny-side. And it’s impossible to argue that an immigrant enclave ensconced in crime is good for them, and pat them on the back. Leaving their struggles untouched is to leave their struggles undealt with entirely. Likewise, the underground cultural current is fervently mythologized after the fact - every inarticulation not an abstention from technique, but a sign of experimental ‘Out’ness (or as the French put it, outré ). In any given neighborhood, what exists as the truly novel versus the mere novelties depends on where you’re standing from, like seasons on opposite sides of the equator. The New York Times may yell, “All Hail Brooklyn: Alt-Rock Thrives in Alt-Borough,” but if indie rock isn’t your cup of tea, rough and tumble Bushwick certainly won’t be either, and not just for that reason (Sisario 2008). Space is construct- ed both by you and for you, but with a personal mobile assistant on whole, it certainly feels like we’ve got ‘the whole wide world in our hands,’ even though that children’s song certainly saunters in glee- ful naïveté. Presuming any tendency towards inevitability, why doesn’t the ‘pre-gentrifying’ area take care of its own even if can’t own housing as much as live amongst, and in, low-rents? In terms of neighbor- hood ‘clean-up’, if no neighborhood wants crime, why is it allowed in the first place?, and not fought with more grating teeth? These
    • Schulman 58 are easy presumptions either way, should be unnecessary to say, and happen intermittently. For examples of “locally-initiated community development,” which have led to “miraculous changes in communi- ties where none could be expected”, see McFarlane 1999 (ibid.). This doesn’t mean the clean-up can happen without the very potential of dispersal though, for however initiated and by whomever, a newly cleaner and safer neighborhood will always cost more than it once did. We’re not dealing with it structurally, it’s just a case of Not In My BackYard. The best we can hope for sounds like a contradiction but isn’t: a persistently low-income area that becomes desirable and then stays that way, becomes desire BY staying that way. This cannot happen with high-crime, which is at odds with a case study we’ll now look at: the model of San Francisco’s Tender- loin. Historically, this neighborhood has lived amidst the upmost ‘uncool’ kind of grit, a Compton not an Echo Park. It remains largely that way to this day, unlike the nearby Mission and SoMa areas which have shaken off some of their grit in part through tech-driven re-investment. But back in the ‘Loin, police have used what criminologists call a “crime fuse” (Paynich and Hill 2009)- a ‘contained zone’ allowing prostitution and danger in some zones but not others. In this case, the procedure is in hopes at least those worst elements won’t spill over into the others nearby. The game is won by a defensive deflection of the charge out of bounds, not a true interception. But such a zone could also happen just because we are so wary of the stereotypical ‘hipster-fied’>’yuppified,’ as if L.A.’s Echo Park was ‘purer’ when it had more drive-bys than it still does now. One can have no tolerance for intolerance, even if they have tolerance for everything else. This so being, and given violence as a form of intolerance, one can have all of Florida’s indicators, as Echo Park has some level of - Technology, Talent, and Tolerance, but you cannot continue tolerating crime. In the particular instance of the Bay, Randy Shaw writes, “low-income residents should not have to choose between displacement and living in a crime-ridden ghetto. If the end game for progressive efforts to prevent gentrification is a neighborhood where poor people are afraid to live, and desperately
    • Schulman 59 want to leave, then our strategy has failed” (Shaw 2009). Noted gen- trification expert Tom Slater continues the point, fighting back that “either disinvestment and decay or gentrification and displacement is a false choice for low-income communities” (2006). Again, why don’t more liberal Creative Classers note rough ‘hoods that are moving to avoid gentrification and towards improvement even when they don’t live there? The pre-gentrification ‘charm’ seems all the more charming once one has more control of it. Artists and Designers in particular need and love control, for its a very part of their autonomy. But where they live seems to be more on their minds and identity-associations than I think it should be. Presup- posing an area has some influence on your work, but certainly not all, the work is the work, regardless of where made. If I’m the neighborhood I live in, I’m also the Nike Swoosh on my T-shirt, just a smaller, cooler, more real brand- something micro versus global. Honestly, neither works particularly well because both are built on abstractions rather than down-to-earth neighborliness, wher- ever you may fall. Pride is fine - just lose the conceit. I may enjoy a branded item but I certainly don’t need to have their daily specials broadcast to my smartphone (by the way, and afterall, I still don’t have one). So long as the ‘Experience Economy’ has me intrigued, I’m skeptical when it’s just the new, bigger and superior ‘experience’ that wins out, somehow detached from its actual product. I’m not against appealing aesthetics and upkeep of historical areas - far from it. I just don’t believe I should be forced to see them as something they are not. This goes back to what I perceive as a deep-rooted rootlessness at the core of the ‘Creative Class’ - the assumed normali- ties of immobile inevitabilities which could be anything but. -Panic In 3-D- It’s not just the power of distribution that’s a masterless mystery when it comes to today’s sociotechnological climate, its the realiza- tion that all the digital geography in the world couldn’t stop the
    • Schulman 60 sub-prime fiascos. In these worldwide financial meltdowns of late, yet another ugly use appears: ‘dead zones’ are also the over-built suburban tracts with no one to sell to, no mortgages coming around the bend. Here lies the nightmare in lieu of of a sun-laden predic- tion, the suburb-turned-slumburb (Leinberger 2009). In response to the banking and loan crisis, Florida’s continued emphasis is on personal mobility and concentration only, continuing to divide-and- conquer, presupposing an forgettable “Uncreative Class” (2009; Leon 2009). As first with cars, now with homes, the Ownership Society has gleaned and grown from mass production for all - but now there are homes-turned-lemons just like there were always cars-turned- lemons, sold from sleazy used-car dealerships. Newly worried about squatters, subdivisions are razed by their own builder, an implosion of the ‘model home’ into dust, and place into placelessness. Its all so Traumatically, Terrifically, Sprawlific. As the song sings, ‘what becomes of the brokenhearted?’ When the megalithic home-builder KayBroad Homes stopped a subdivision far outside Tucson dead in its tracks, nothing was left sub-divided from the outlying desert. With all divisions fallen down, the territory became again, like it once was, a ‘nothing’-space. In the frame of commerce, it was now outside any territory of action. But on either side, a positive distinc- tion for the land is sought, never a negative one. So while artist Lucy Lippard would consider the monoculture of tract homes overtaking the wild a “geography of nowhere,” the tract-home builder could see things just the opposite. Essentially what we have here is an ATM for the Ownership Society’s increasingly disintegrating model of the leveraged house as a “three-dimensional credit card” (Varnelis 216). Vision acting as speed acts as efficiency as competition and as power - the power to get there first. But the downside is a specula- tion that never holds true, “speculative withdrawals” which create nothing but “vast, waiting spaces” for the little train that could, but sometimes doesn’t (ibid.). In this way the recession is equal opportu- nity. K.B.’s torn-down housing models become akin to the neighbor- hood that coulda-woulda gentrified, but then never did, or the ones which still might, some day, even some day completely. Will that be
    • Schulman 61 a blessed day, tragic, or predictable? Such a list is unwieldy, but in three American capitals of arts-employement, includes: Chicago’s Bridgeport, East Garfield Park, or Pilsen (Taylor and Puente 2004), Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park (McNeil Jr. 2008; Murphy 2008), and L.A.’s North East - Eagle Rock and Highland Park (Chamberlain 2007; Lin 2008). And when Lippard defines ‘placelessness’ as “place ignored, unseen, or unknown,” you know she is arguing for its opposite - for renewing the landscape by re-assessing it (37). But in light of commercial development, the ‘placeless’ is in every way a place untouched. To save a place means to have first known it is there, to find it and maintain it. How did the spoils of crime ever come to seem so unspoiled comparatively? When it comes right down to it, if everything is to be re-inspect- ed for exhibition, all of reality put on show, questions of authority roar up intently. What can be marked as superlative, and what not? What will or won’t be supervisable or for that matter suppressible? Will data become so naturalized to the physical world that it, too, loses fervor? As in today’s condition, will we press to feel shocked all the more since we’re so conditioned to overexposure? I fear so. The more management you desire and need, you also need man- agers for your managers - the proverbial bookmarks manager for your bookmarks manager. Since we, the lucky ones, are already so swamped inside image after image, I worry we will also become lost within data about data, and data within it. How much metadata can we careen through? This programmable problem won’t be fixed by duplicating its conditions worldwide. Shrinking time and space does not exactly equate to shrinking inequality, certainly not financially and not with information. Where to go next? We have to figure it out together. Our digital hereafter must be questioned and made for the molding!
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