In the media & on the blogs

Read what the press and bloggers are writing about Social Cities of Tomorrow.

Workshop

Aldo de Moor of Communitysense has written an extensive report on the workshop outcomes.

I was  really very pleased with the overall quality, originality, and feasibility of the ideas. For the first three cases, quite detailed “how to do it” plans were unfolded, the presentation of the fourth case focused on the theoretical underpinnings of a civic innovator network.

Andy Nash also wrote a wrap-up of the workshop presentations.

The workshops consisted of four groups of people from throughout Europe trying to apply social media techniques to real world planning problems. The format of placing 5-7 people from different backgrounds, who don’t know one another beforehand, together to solve real problems can lead to some interesting ideas and this was also true here.

Workshop participant Attila Bujdosó wrote a small blogpost about the approach his team took:

Our focus with the team, consisting of 7 people of diverse professional and national background, was not on sketching the outlines of any platform, tool or ‘the solution’ to support civic innovation. Instead, we developed an understanding of the requisites to make any network – or better name it social infrastructure – sustainable. We mapped the possible motivations of stakeholders to contribute to such a network, investigated the new role of the city government and highlighted that strong citizen innovation requires power shifting from the city towards the public.

Conference

Andy Nash wrote a great summary of the keynotes.

 It was a great event in every way from organization to the keynote speakers to presentations of different social media projects from throughout the world. Not only that, but it was fun and there were lots of great people doing great work to meet.

In addition,  Andy Nash also provides an overview of the project presentations.

Peter P from Proto-type Theater based in Manchester visited the conference and in his notes relates our conference themes to his practice of theater making.

The conference was incredibly inspiring. … Between each of the keynotes, there were showcase presentations of work spanning a range of projects that were in some way addressing the notion of a social city. Our friends at Uninvited Guests were there presenting their R&D project from the Theatre Sandbox scheme called Give Me Back My Broken Night. Most of the conference talks were not about art or theatre (with the exception of the Uninvited Guests showcase), but I found my head buzzing like crazy throughout the intensive day.

Lawrence Bird summarized the conference for Furtherfield.

Adapting its title from Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities of Tomorrow, but taking equal inspiration from the work of Archigram, the conference presented a snapshot of the direction cities are moving today: as conventional means of planning and designing are renegotiated through our engagement with new media technologies.

Shareable’s Yulia Kryazheva wrote a wrap-up of the workshop and the conference.

Rounding up his presentation, Usman pointed out the fundamental mistake about the role of a designer: “Designers are not here to simplify the world, but to demonstrate the complexity of it. Embrace the complexity and make an action upon it.

Bjorn Uyens of Sync wrote a nice summary of some of the main themes of the day (in Dutch):

Als ik vandaag door de stad loop, zie ik op mijn smartphone waar mijn vrienden zijn ingechecked via Foursquare, bekijk ik mijn status-updates op Facebook bij de bushalte en reageer ik in de bus op mijn zakelijke mail. Mijn beweging door de openbare ruimte wordt tegenwoordig omhuld met een wolk van mijn virtuele zelf. Wat levert dit ons op? Hoe kunnen we de virtuele en de fysieke ruimte laten samenwerken, zodat individu en samenleving als geheel socialer worden en niet alleen maar meer hightech?

Waag Society’s Karien Vermeulen also attended the conference and posed some interesting follow-up questions (in Dutch):

Zoals gezegd, veel en vaak mooie projecten, maar niet altijd sociaal. Vaak rees de vraagtechnology is the answer, but what was the question?, zoals keynote spreker Daniel Hill het mooi formuleerde. Wat zijn de onderliggende behoeften van mensen in steden, van waaruit ze het eigenaarschap voelen hun stad te verbeteren en hoe adresseer je die? En, hoe kan technologie die behoeftes en acties faciliteren?

NAi‘s Petra van der Ree visited the conference and noted a series of interesting parallels between new media design and architecture:

In ‘social cities’ worden digitale technieken ingezet om steden beter leefbaar te maken en meer sociale samenhang en betrokkenheid te creëren. ‘Social cities’ gaat dus eigenlijk over communicatie en samenwerking, meer dan over stedelijke inrichting. Maar het idee dat interactie tussen burgers de sociale cohesie in een stad bevordert is natuurlijk niet nieuw. De structuralisten in de jaren zestig en zeventig, zoals Aldo van Eyck, Jan Verhoeven en Piet Blom, ontwierpen wijken die het contact tussen bewoners stimuleerden.

Tracy Metz reviewed the conference and interviewed conference co-organizers Martijn de Waal and Michiel de Lange for NRC Handelsblad:

Met sociale media kunnen we niet alleen de dichtbijzijnde pinautomaat vinden, of je vrienden, maar kunnen we samen complexere problemen aanpakken, zoals vervuiling of het beheer van de openbare ruimte.” De Lange en De Waal spreken daarom over ownership: de nieuwe media geven de stadsbewoner meer zeggenschap over zijn eigen omgeving, en dus meer betrokkenheid. ,,De technologie is geen doel op zichzelf”, benadrukt Michiel de Lange. ,,Met de nieuwe media kunnen heel verschillende mensen zich rond een onderwerp of een gezamenlijk belang verenigen, zonder dat ze de hele tijd samen koffie hoeven te drinken of te barbecuën. Vertrouwde vreemden voor elkaar zijn is al mooi. Dat past beter bij de fluïde stedelijke samenleving, waarin veel mensen niet meer vanzelf ergens bijhoren – bij een bedrijf, of een partij, of een geloof. We worden niet ineens sociaal door de technologie. Die is een middel om ons te organiseren rond de dingen die we met elkaar delen.”

Yourban‘s Nicole Martin participated in the workshop and attended the conference.

The catch cry for the week was “how can we make cities more social, not only more technical?”. Although some of the people I spoke to criticise the conference for veering off topic, for me an expansion of the core thematic into topics like, designing for stakeholders and designing trust, highlighted just how far the discourse of new media is penetrating into various disciplines and worlds of disciplinarians.

Cities Magazine attended the event and wrote a report (pdf):

Brought together by a mutual interest in the potential of technology to help describe, understand and communicate about key issues in urban life, more than 190 professionals from across the world explored the possibilities of using technology to support and empower civic engagement.

 

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