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Playing with Property: Young People and the Right to the ‘Smart’ City

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This paper explores the tensions between urban and youth development in the information age so as to critically reflect on the rights of urban youth to reorient their socio-technological surroundings, and with it their own life course. Findings from two case studies of NYC youth are drawn on to consider both a ‘right to the city’ and ‘to research’ as deeply intertwined ontological and epistemological movements that reconfigure the production of space, knowledge and media in the smart city. As NYCs economy becomes oriented toward high-tech and creative industries, public investments are made to recruit and accommodate a highly educated, largely white, and supposedly more creative class of workers. Marginalized and poor youth are meanwhile segregated and largely sorted out of this ‘new’ economy. At a more intimate scale of development, apps like Uber shape public mobility, companies like News Corp equip public schools with educational media, and daily communication is largely facilitated by privately owned platforms and networks. The result is a geography of youth development that increasingly takes place in the proprietary cross-hairs of smart urbanism’s creative destruction. This paper unpacks two youth-based projects intended to shift this dynamic: one that developed an open-source social network and one that maintains a community-based WiFi network. Together, these projects help illustrate how broader calls for rights ‘to the city’ and ‘to research’ play out in the practical yet powerful ways youth are remaking the social, material, and digital configuration of the smart city.

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Playing with Property: Young People and the Right to the ‘Smart’ City

  1. 1. Digital Sociology Conference | Digital Structures, Digital Institutions Session | 03/18/16 PLAYING WITH PROPERTY: Young People and the Right to the ‘Smart’ City Gregory T. Donovan,PhD Assistant Professor, Communication & Media Studies New Media & Digital Design Urban Studies Urban Law Center FORDHAM UNIVERSITY GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  2. 2. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN I. the ‘smart’ urban frontier II. informational youth III. two developments IV. a right to the smart city?
  3. 3. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  4. 4. “How can cities rise to meet big new challenges — and serve more and more people — with resources that are always stretched thin? By finding smart ways to use a resource that is always growing: Data.” GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  5. 5. digital.nyc/map GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN the smart city’s uneven geography
  6. 6. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN a “new” urban frontier?
  7. 7. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Lefebvre, H. (2003). The Urban Revolution. “in the urban, everything is calculable, quantifiable, programmable; everything, that is, except the drama that results from the co-presence and re-presentation of the elements calculated, quantified, and programmed.” — Henri Lefebvre * * urban (plat)form
  8. 8. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Lefebvre, H. (1987). The Everyday and Everydayness. Yale French Studies, 73. 7-11. “… the everyday [constitutes] the platform upon which the bureaucratic society of controlled consumerism is erected” — Henri Lefebvre* *
  9. 9. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN the urban platform accumulates all content
  10. 10. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN … but produces uneven knowledge data-driven indifference
  11. 11. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN II. informational youth
  12. 12. mydigitalfootprint.org a Youth Design & Research Collective production GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  13. 13. cyberspace your spacemy space cyberspace is magical! GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  14. 14. youth as 
 informational ideal, youth as 
 informational property GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  15. 15. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  16. 16. Circuits for access, or dispossession? GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  17. 17. Proprietary ecologies are the multidimensional ecosystems of privatized data flows within which everyday life increasingly takes place. … I theorize this as an “ecology” because the concept bridges an IT discourse of information systems that interact at various scales (i.e. information ecology) with a spatial understanding of the relations of production and reproduction at various scales (i.e. political ecology).” GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  18. 18. YOUTH ARE THE CANARIES IN OUR CONTEMPORARY DATA MINE. Their situated resilience, distress, empathy & apathy are indicators of things to come. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  19. 19. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN III. two developments
  20. 20. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Hudson Yards Redevelopment Amsterdam Housing Development
  21. 21. DESIGNING SMART CITIES FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE SPRING 2016 Comm & 
 Media Studies American Studies Urban Studies Dorothy Day Center for Service & Justice Amsterdam Houses Amsterdam Addition Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center COURSE ATTRIBUTES SERVICE PARTNER COMMUNITY PARTNERS JUSTICE-LEARNING PARTNER NMDD 3883 SERVICE LEARNING COURSE GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  22. 22. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Settling the New West (Side)
  23. 23. “Hudson Yards will attract & cater to this vibrant, cutting-edge community.” GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  24. 24. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN quantifying privilege
  25. 25. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Amsterdam Houses 
 & Amsterdam Addition
  26. 26. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN PhotobyPopSpots:http://www.popspotsnyc.com/west_side_story/
  27. 27. GTD.NYC @GDONOVANGTD.NYC @GDONOVAN Maps Generated By: I Quant NY, http://iqauntny.tumblr.com
  28. 28. 754 frisks
 2 guns
 .265% success rate GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  29. 29. “… it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case,incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” (June 28, 2013) GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  30. 30. (USA Today, 2003) (Fox New, 2003) Brianna, 12 Forced by RIAA to pay $2,000 fine as well as issue public apology for file sharing in 2003. Resident of UWS public housing GTD.NYC @GDONOVANGTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  31. 31. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN A Settlement House for the Old West (Side) GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  32. 32. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN A settlement house is a community center with a stated purpose of “strengthen[ing] individual and neighborhood assets, and build[ing] collective capacity to address community problems.” — Beverly Koerin * * Koerin, B. (2003). The Settlement House Tradition: Current Trends and Future Concerns.”
  33. 33. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN IV. a right to the smart city?
  34. 34. situating the settlement house 
 as techno-social interface GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN The settlement house, rather than the new media district, is a potentially potent techno-social interface that could reorient neoliberal modes of knowing and belonging for marginalized youth in the smart city.
  35. 35. “… the right to the tools through which any citizen can systematically increase that stock of knowledge which they consider most vital to their survival as human beings and to their claims as citizens.” The Right to the Smart City “The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.” GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN
  36. 36. PUBLIC SCIENCE PROJECT’S RESEARCHERSFORFAIRPOLICING.ORG GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN qualitative communities & participatory platforms
  37. 37. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN qualitative communities & participatory platforms
  38. 38. GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN qualitative communities & participatory platforms
  39. 39. Digital Sociology Conference | Digital Structures, Digital Institutions Session | 03/18/16 PLAYING WITH PROPERTY: Young People and the Right to the ‘Smart’ City Gregory T. Donovan,PhD Assistant Professor, Communication & Media Studies New Media & Digital Design Urban Studies Urban Law Center FORDHAM UNIVERSITY GTD.NYC @GDONOVAN

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