Mapping Disagreement around Smart City devices

Nold, Christian (2013). Mapping Disagreement around Smart City devices. In: Subtle Revolution 2nd International Hybrid City Conference, University Research Institute of Applied Communication, University of Athens, Athens, Greece, 2013 pp. 133–140.

Abstract

This paper is a preliminary report of a longterm participant-actor ethnography following a Smart City mobile phone app that is part of a EU research project. The study uses an actor-network theory approach to follow the app and via interviews with the app designer and observations of the EU research project, argues that these technologies are surprising human/machine hybrids whose main qualities are their affective affordances which enrol large numbers of users. The paper tracks a number of contradictory framings and uncovers ontological disagreement about what the app is sensing. Smart City technologies have not been black boxed yet, and are still at the stage of performing as affective hybrids that need to enrol actors. This means that the networks around Smart Cities are still malleable and it is still possible to critique existing tools and to develop new models and forms of agency for Smart City technologies.

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