Be the first to like this
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.