MY
                                                          Designing for Indiaʼs Immaterial Urbanism




ELASTIC
CITY
Tu...
Consultancy                        Superflux Lab




                                NOW                              FUTU...
Yellow
Chair
Stories
[2005]



Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Simon had suggested that for this session I focus on India, linking st...
People wanted free access to wireless networks



Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Back in 2005, getting free wifi was a novelty, and p...
To see the ʻYellow Chair Storiesʼ video visit: http://vimeo.com/2935189
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Yellow Chair Stories video cl...
I gave them a chair, a street and a service.




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
But instead, I gave them a chair, a street, and a se...
Yellow Chair San Jose with Tom Jenkins [2006]

Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Much to my surprise the project was well received, we ...
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
And this idea is very well captured by the guys from Urbz, an organisation working in Dharavi, Mumbai...
Definition of an ʻelastic cityʼ by David Rusk, [1993]

          “Elastic cities are those that either embrace
          so...
My Elastic City [2010]
         Is a city that utilises its immateriality to continually
         stretch collective urban...
Welcome to India




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
While all cities are elastic in different ways, I want to talk about this in the...
590 million Indians, or 40% of the
                population will live in cities by 2030




                  McKinsey
G...
How can we design for Indiaʼs Immaterial Urbanism?
       Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/39547215
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
How...
This is because they work in India. here. looks boring on the
 map. Most of the roads dont have names, so rather blank.


...
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
If you zoom into the city of Ahmedabad, where I am from, there are 5 million people who live there. B...
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Hereʼs one example of how places are addressed. (Bharat General store). If that bus stop came down or...
comparing it to Amsterdam




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
On the other hand here in Amsterdam its pretty impossible to get lost, ...
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Well, we may not have street names, but as Jane Jacobs, said, streets are the defining character of
In...
Rickshaw wallah: Latest Bollywood Hits and Misses




   Photo Credit: Jon Ardern
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
While holding on to...
Temporary TV Wallah: Whats the Score?
           Photocredit: flickr.com/photos/anewnadir
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
On the way,...
Local Barber: Live Stock Market Updates
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
If you are a bloke and feeling lazy, you could walk down to t...
Flourwallah: Top Recipe of the Week
                       Photo Credit: Jon Ardern
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

You could pop by...
Gameswallas: Collaborative Community Gaming



Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Hearing squeals of excitement you wander over to the b...
Shaadi Walli: Local Marriage Bureau




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
And if you walk past the streets or a side temple, youʼd find ...
blood selling service - the fringes of society




         Underground wallah/walli: Deviant Services
Tuesday, 1 June 201...
Paanwallah: Real Estate Updates

                       Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/rohitrath
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
In c...
Robot wallah: Your horoscope for the week




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
And finally end the day with a dose of your auspicious f...
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
So on the blank map of the city, what I have attempted to show:
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
This is how the barberʼs network grows. He is like a data set, a node stretching to covers nooks
and ...
SHOW THE FULL MAP


     these are networks in-formation, data-sets in-formation




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
You get this map...
THEN THERES THIS MAP




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Unlike this map showing sparse photographs and youtube videos that is also ʻ...
An alternate IT blueprint for India?




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
This map is a whole new set of opportunities...
Just as the ...
THIS IS MY
ELASTIC
CITY
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

That would be ʻMy Elastic Cityʼ.
WHAT WOULD THE APPS FOR MY ELASTIC CITY BE?




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
And ofcourse the next question would be: What would t...
The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Have the rickshaw arrive at the press of a button
The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button
              Horoscope delivered to my device




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Or g...
The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button
              Horoscope delivered to my device
              The flourmill tw...
examples -




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
On the other hand, what we do have a lot of right now are services such as “sms jokes”...
EKO: Your mobile *is* your Account




Tuesday, 1 June 2010
On the other hand, a good example is that of ʻEkoʼ which is a ...
flickr.com/photos/rey_k




                       And the *corner shop* is the Teller


                       Photo credi...
The Street as Facebook (except that this one is Open Source)




                                                         ...
Lets Design:
          Open Source, People-generated Immaterial Urbanism




          Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/ashi...
Thank You
                       www.superflux.in | Twitter: @Superflux _



        Something about anticipating change, di...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

My Elastic City: Designing for India's Immaterial Urbanism

2,656 views

Published on

Published in: Design, Business, Technology
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
2,656
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
166
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
65
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

My Elastic City: Designing for India's Immaterial Urbanism

  1. 1. MY Designing for Indiaʼs Immaterial Urbanism ELASTIC CITY Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Thanks to the organisers and Simon for inviting me. Anab Jain, Director, Superflux _ Twitter: @Superflux_ I am Anab, and I am the founder of a small design company called Superflux, we are primarily based in London, but we also have a small base in Ahmedabad, India, where I am from originally. The title of my talk is ʻMy Elastic Cityʼ... and I will hopefully be able to explain what I mean by that in the next fifteen minutes.
  2. 2. Consultancy Superflux Lab NOW FUTURE SWEET SPOT www.superflux.in Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Hereʼs a little diagram showing how we work at Superflux: through our Consultancy we work hands on with clients to design interactions: products, experiences or services. And through the Lab we like to push the boundaries and do more speculative futures oriented work: we explore the implications of new and emerging technologies on our everyday lives. And that bright spot where they overlap is what we call the ʻsweet spotʼ where - the merger of the now and the possible future can lead to what you might call: “innovation”.
  3. 3. Yellow
Chair
Stories
[2005]
 Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Simon had suggested that for this session I focus on India, linking street level innovations to information technology. In order to be able to, let me start by briefly showing you the “Yellow Chair Stories” project from five years ago. I worked with a range of participants to explore their sense of belonging to a place. They were given empty yellow cards and asked to write what was it that they wanted in their neighbourhood. Some wanted neighbours, others wanted a password to a wireless network. Meanwhile our home router was broken and someone had been stealing our network connection. My response to all of this was an experiment, and hereʼs a little video clip of that:
  4. 4. People wanted free access to wireless networks Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Back in 2005, getting free wifi was a novelty, and people wanted that...
  5. 5. To see the ʻYellow Chair Storiesʼ video visit: http://vimeo.com/2935189 Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Yellow Chair Stories video clip:
  6. 6. I gave them a chair, a street and a service. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 But instead, I gave them a chair, a street, and a service. And even after I took the chair away, people still came and made use of this transient service. It was a physical ʻblog spaceʼ, a node where the physical and digital met.
  7. 7. Yellow Chair San Jose with Tom Jenkins [2006] Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Much to my surprise the project was well received, we were able to scale it up to couple of other cities. Hereʼs what we did in San Jose. I also received emails from people who wanted to replicate it in their own neighbourhoods. While today we have thousands of iphone apps, maps and augmented reality games which have taken the digital urban experience to a whole new level, I think the point of this project was to create unique exchanges at the juxtaposition of the digital and physical. To create spaces where local communities can converge and then disappear again.
  8. 8. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 And this idea is very well captured by the guys from Urbz, an organisation working in Dharavi, Mumbai. After all isnt it all about people? Cities are people, cities are stories of the people who live there.
  9. 9. Definition of an ʻelastic cityʼ by David Rusk, [1993] “Elastic cities are those that either embrace some form of regionalism or, better still, expand their boundaries by annexing suburbs.” Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Which is what I think would be the essence of an elastic city. As I looked for the interpretations of this term, I found that David Rusk had coined the term way back in 1993. His definition refers to the physical boundaries of the city.
  10. 10. My Elastic City [2010] Is a city that utilises its immateriality to continually stretch collective urban imagination. Creates experiential services to reconnect residents to their cities in new ways. *Disclaimer:
Not
an
urban
designer Tuesday, 1 June 2010 But what about the “immateriality” of the city, those digital bits that entering our skins, rushing past us into flows and networks of stuff we cant ever put a finger on? In 2010 it only makes sense to reinterpret Ruskʼs definition. So Iʼd say that my elastic city is...
  11. 11. Welcome to India Tuesday, 1 June 2010 While all cities are elastic in different ways, I want to talk about this in the context of India.
  12. 12. 590 million Indians, or 40% of the population will live in cities by 2030 McKinsey
Global
Institute
Report,
April
2010 Tuesday, 1 June 2010 A recent report by McKinsey Global Institute says that 590 million Indians or 40% of the population will live in cities by 2030. If you just look at the video, youʼll see how we are used to elasticity - squeezing in between spaces... But how much will that stretch? How many layers will we build? And while built infrastructure needs immediate attention, what about the soft infrastructure ? The communication, the services, the experiences, the networks?
  13. 13. How can we design for Indiaʼs Immaterial Urbanism? Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/39547215 Tuesday, 1 June 2010 How can we design for Indiaʼs Immaterial Urbanism? (This is the image of the STD booth, it marked a telecom revolution in India, envisioned by Sam Pitroda.) While the mobile phone is being sold like hot cakes, how will local, community level services and information networks cope and deal with the urban explosion? For this, we should go and see how some of the information networks of the cities operate:
  14. 14. This is because they work in India. here. looks boring on the map. Most of the roads dont have names, so rather blank. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 This is the state of Gujarat,
  15. 15. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 If you zoom into the city of Ahmedabad, where I am from, there are 5 million people who live there. But youʼll discover that as yet, not many roads have names. I am aware that google are working on it, but it must be difficult.
  16. 16. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Hereʼs one example of how places are addressed. (Bharat General store). If that bus stop came down or the road got widened, theyʼd have to re-appropriate the address. And same for all their neighbours.
  17. 17. comparing it to Amsterdam Tuesday, 1 June 2010 On the other hand here in Amsterdam its pretty impossible to get lost, its all well thought out and organised.
  18. 18. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Well, we may not have street names, but as Jane Jacobs, said, streets are the defining character of Indian cities. And to explore them better, lets just make a trip... Now if you arrive in the city by train, you can jump into an autorickshaw...
  19. 19. Rickshaw wallah: Latest Bollywood Hits and Misses Photo Credit: Jon Ardern Tuesday, 1 June 2010 While holding on to edge of the rickshaw seat for dear life, you will get an insiders guide to the latest bollywood hits and misses.. (*Audio playing the remix of the latest film ʻHousefullʼ.*) And you will have a conversation with the rickshaw wallah about the other hits and misses as well. Wallah or Wallih is suffix we attach to people / vendors/ agents/ makers/ who form a huge part of Indian urban life. They are the spirit of entrepreneurship in India, and also as I will show, work as important ʻnetwork nodesʼ too.
  20. 20. Temporary TV Wallah: Whats the Score? Photocredit: flickr.com/photos/anewnadir Tuesday, 1 June 2010 On the way, you can stop by at the corner shop to get the latest cricket score. (*Audio playing cricket score*) Someone has borrowed the neighbourʼs cables, and setup a temporary TV shop. Now you can see why the yellow chair doesnt feel quite so wrong from my perspective.
  21. 21. Local Barber: Live Stock Market Updates Tuesday, 1 June 2010 If you are a bloke and feeling lazy, you could walk down to the corner of your street and get a quick shave and... (*Audio playing live stock market update*) The Barber updates you with a filtered version of the live stock market update, which may not be as efficient as your bloomberg app, but perhaps more relevant to you...
  22. 22. Flourwallah: Top Recipe of the Week Photo Credit: Jon Ardern Tuesday, 1 June 2010 You could pop by at the flour mill on the corner of your road to pick up some fresh flour... but also hang out with the local ladies and get the top recipe of the week. (*Audio playing flour mill sounds*)
  23. 23. Gameswallas: Collaborative Community Gaming Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Hearing squeals of excitement you wander over to the back of a corner shop which is converted into a gaming zone. As children play collaboratively with old arcade games - (*Audio playing arcade game sounds*) There is an equally excitable exchange of ring tones, gossip about new games and all things worth acquiring.
  24. 24. Shaadi Walli: Local Marriage Bureau Tuesday, 1 June 2010 And if you walk past the streets or a side temple, youʼd find elderly women hanging out, often discussing detailed marriage propositions, basically they are fixing matches, often without the knowledge of those concerned... umm.. well. (*Audio playing street+temple sounds*) This idea of ʻfree timeʼ used for communal activities is also a notion of elasticity that you dont see much of in the west.
  25. 25. blood selling service - the fringes of society Underground wallah/walli: Deviant Services Tuesday, 1 June 2010 In the old town youʼll pass by rows of shops that offer free food to the needy. Amongst these groups of people are agents wandering around, whispering code numbers, looking for people who may want to sell a bottle of blood, an organ or want to be a surrogate mother. There is this other ʻdeviant economyʼ (ref: Nils Gilman) flourishing entirely through a loose informal network of information. (*Audio playing busy street sounds*)
  26. 26. Paanwallah: Real Estate Updates Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/rohitrath Tuesday, 1 June 2010 In case youʼve had a busy day you can go treat yourself to the indian staple high - the paan. And while chewing the “zero tension paan” you could join in the conversation going on about real estate. (*Audio playing Bollywood tune ʻMahiya reʼ *) The paan wallah has done well in selling plots of land in the neighbourhood, and is perhaps the best person to ask about flats for rent in the neighbourhood.
  27. 27. Robot wallah: Your horoscope for the week Tuesday, 1 June 2010 And finally end the day with a dose of your auspicious future... This robot will tell you your horoscope for the week (*Audio playing robot horoscope*) Also to note: You wont go up to the robot on your own, there will always be the person playing the role of the ʻsocial interfaceʼ, who will take the money, give you headphones, and watch you while you hear your fate.
  28. 28. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 So on the blank map of the city, what I have attempted to show:
  29. 29. Tuesday, 1 June 2010 This is how the barberʼs network grows. He is like a data set, a node stretching to covers nooks and corners of the area around him. Now if we starting populating this map with all the other people we just met...
  30. 30. SHOW THE FULL MAP these are networks in-formation, data-sets in-formation Tuesday, 1 June 2010 You get this map! A local map of soft services and networks, which I think is not only compelling, but also meaningful for the people who live there, at Ground Zero.
  31. 31. THEN THERES THIS MAP Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Unlike this map showing sparse photographs and youtube videos that is also ʻpeople-generatedʼ content,
  32. 32. An alternate IT blueprint for India? Tuesday, 1 June 2010 This map is a whole new set of opportunities... Just as the drive for new urbanism has to recognise the ʻoccupancy urbanismʼ of Indian cities, those side walks and shops and sheds that are important element of urban life, so also information visionaries and technology planners should recognise the value of these “in-formal” networks and services. While they may not be most efficient, and I think personalised efficient soft services are of utmost value... these “in- formal” or “in-formation”networks are also the lifeline of human stories, and equally valuable. Could this map be an alternate blueprint for Information Technology a blueprint that highlights the value of such ambiguous information flows that are important for making the city what is it?
  33. 33. THIS IS MY ELASTIC CITY Tuesday, 1 June 2010 That would be ʻMy Elastic Cityʼ.
  34. 34. WHAT WOULD THE APPS FOR MY ELASTIC CITY BE? Tuesday, 1 June 2010 And ofcourse the next question would be: What would the ʻappsʼ for my elastic city be? I guess from where I stand here, some immediate thoughts might be...
  35. 35. The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Have the rickshaw arrive at the press of a button
  36. 36. The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button Horoscope delivered to my device Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Or get the robot wallahʼs horoscope delivered to my personal device
  37. 37. The rickshaw arrives at the press of a button Horoscope delivered to my device The flourmill tweets when the fresh flour is ready Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Get the flourmill to start tweeting when the fresh flour is ready. Hmm...I think that might all be fine and good and work, but we are perhaps missing the essence of the street - the extension of the social space to the world outside.
  38. 38. examples - Tuesday, 1 June 2010 On the other hand, what we do have a lot of right now are services such as “sms jokes”, which are at best mildly annoying, and at other times hugely offensive like this one.
  39. 39. EKO: Your mobile *is* your Account Tuesday, 1 June 2010 On the other hand, a good example is that of ʻEkoʼ which is a banking service aimed at the 60% of Indiaʼs ʻunbankedʼ population. In this service your mobile phone is YOUR ACCOUNT. You make payments simply by dialling numbers.
  40. 40. flickr.com/photos/rey_k And the *corner shop* is the Teller Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/paulancheta Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Whats quite so cool about it, is that all those ʻwallahsʼ I showed earlier - those multipurpose hubs which not only sell medications by the pill, shampoo in tiny sachets, cell phone minutes by the Paisa, tell you about rents, and stocks - well they are the Tellers! Eko just seeks to give this already trusted, daily- visited vendor one more thing to sell - building on the idea of the community that already exists, which is great.
  41. 41. The Street as Facebook (except that this one is Open Source) flickr.com/photos/oneeighteen Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Which again emphasis the point, I am suggesting that for a social community like india, you could consider the street as the Facebook. Ofcourse it has the same issues around privacy, but atleast its Open Source! And has been for a very long time.
  42. 42. Lets Design: Open Source, People-generated Immaterial Urbanism Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/ashish_tibrewal Tuesday, 1 June 2010 And so lets start playing. And designing for this open source platform, taking advantage of the inherent informal street level exchanges to design rich experiences that stretch our cities like an elastic band...
  43. 43. Thank You www.superflux.in | Twitter: @Superflux _ Something about anticipating change, digging deep into it, and find ways of making a difference - at whatever level - Tuesday, 1 June 2010 Thank You!

×