17 November 2010

inclusion/exclusion in the city

From the chapter "Neobourgeois Space": 
What novelists like Perec, Beauvoir, and Rochefort -- no less than the Situationists performing their urban experiments in Paris during the same years, or Henri Lefebvre progressively recoding his initial concept of "everyday life" into a range of spatial and urban categories -- realized, was the emergence of a new image of society as a city -- and thus the beginning of a whole new thematics of inside and outside, of inclusion in, and exclusion from, a positively valued modernity.  Cities possess a center and banlieues, and citizens, those on the interior, deciding who among the insiders should be expelled, and whether or not to open their doors to those on the outside. -- Kristin Ross, from Fast Cars, Clean Bodies p. 149 - 150
What interests me about Ross's point, in the context of mobile connectivity and infrastructure, is how this inclusion/exclusion is reinforced through access to communication technologies.  The ease of wayfinding through a mapping app on a smart phone is only useful if you can access the phone and afford the data plan.  Is access to a smart phone a new inclusion into "positively valued modernity"?  And how is this access opened to outsiders?  The urban spaces have not changed much due to mobile connectivity, but the utility they spaces hold changes through on-the-go access to the Internet, for instance, through a smart phone.  Perhaps mobile and urban technologies can become more open and inclusive -- here is an example of public usb drives installed in New York City -- but, most likely, inclusion in urban society will necessitate leaving the phone in the pocket, inhabiting the physical city and not the cyber-city, and spending more time on the streets, on foot.

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