How urban data reveals the hidden life behind cities

Routes taken by a student in the XVI district of Paris, by Chombart de Lauwe. 1952

According to a recent survey by the EFPS (European Foundation for Progressive Studies) and the Felipe González Foundation, online privacy stands as one of the main worries for our young generation alongside gender equality and climate change.

Our personal data (our “digital fingerprint”) can be used, as Black Mirror demonstrates, to make our life impossible. It can also be used to do business with us, the consumer, and sell us goods which we never even knew we would want. Or, as we now know from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, to try to convince us to vote against our own interests, that is, against ourselves.

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Situationists For Open City Makers

Amongst the “avant garde” revolutionary intellectuals, the situationists are one of a kind. Though they are few, they often are waging battles under the leadership of a young Guy Débord, to surpass and make obsolete other contemporary movements such as Letterism and Surrealism.

Quoting Carlos Granés about situationists: “in a society that annihilates adventure, the only adventure is to annihilate society”. With such an overwhelming enterprise in mind, it is not surprising that this avant-garde group quickly suffered from their own contradictions, for their fondness of purges and procrastination rather than practical action. However, their intellectual footprint in the arts, politics and urbanism has filtered through to our times, through movements like the Spanish 15M or America’s “Occupy”.

The following is a selection of situationists’ texts over time. Although most of them are excerpts from “Magazine of the International Situationist” (from the extensive compilation found at “The Situationist International on-line”), their main publication while the group was active, we have added other texts that complement or update the vision of Débord and his comrades over the 3 topics more relevant to city making, and thus to OpenYourCity readers: arts, urbanism and automation.

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Autumn events

‘Cause not everything it’s about on-line reading, check out upcoming events where we can meet in person:

Dec, 11th. At API Days Global, Paris. Talk on “APIs for People”

Dec, 4th. At the Master in Advanced Architectural Projects (MPAA), UPM, Madrid. Class on “Visualizing Flows and Networks in the City”.

Nov, 28th. (16:30-17:30 CET). At Cities Coalition For Digital Rights (CC4DR). Webinar on “Eurocities’ Citizen Data Principles”. Join the webinar here.

Nov, 19th. At Urban Beers BCN on “Big Data analysis to help cities improve”. Talk on “Urban data for the common good”. See review here.

Nov, 18th. At Barcelona Smart City World Expo. Moderating the session “Data, People, Cities – EUROCITIES citizen data principles in action”. Info and registration here.

(See past events)

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Cómo los datos urbanos nos revelan la vida oculta de las ciudades

Itinerarios de un estudiante en el distrito XVI de París, por Chombart de Lauwe. 1952

Según una reciente encuesta de la Fundación Europea de Estudios Progresistas y la Fundación Felipe González, la privacidad on-line, junto con la igualdad de género y el cambio climático, es una de las tres primeras preocupaciones de nuestros jóvenes.

Los datos personales, nuestra huella digital, pueden usarse, como nos muestra Black Mirror, para hacernos la vida imposible. O para hacer negocio con nosotros y vendernos los productos que ni siquiera sabíamos que queríamos comprar. O, como sabemos a partir del escándalo de Facebook y Cambrige Analytica, para tratar de convencernos de votar contra nuestros propios intereses. Es decir, contra nosotros mismos.

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Innovation Districts. ¿Growth or Decline?

Translated from its Spanish version by Nicolas Cook

This week, I travelled to the Barcelona Real Estate Exhibition to take part in a session on the current status of innovation districts; the laudable urban concept which originated in the late 90s. My presentation was to take place on Friday 18th of October, the day of the General Strike. A wise friend of mine from Barcelona therefore recommended I take abundant reading matter for the trip, in case of long delays on trains and in stations. I was headed to the Catalan capital – a flagship of urban innovation – to share ideas on innovation districts, such a clear example of global knowledge flows. As my travelling companion, then, I chose Professor Manuel Castells’s “Space of Flows” (the latest volume of his key work “The Network Society”).
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Distritos de innovación. ¿Auge o declive?

Barcelona, como París, está descentralizando la innovación más allá de sus distritos de innovación

Esta semana viajé al salón inmobiliario de Barcelona para participar en una sesión sobre el estado actual de los distritos de innovación, de esa encomiable idea urbanística de finales de los años noventa del pasado siglo. Como mi ponencia iba a tener lugar el viernes 18 de Octubre, día de huelga general, un amigo de Barcelona, muy práctico él, me aconsejó llevarme abundante material de lectura para el viaje, para el caso de que mi día, por efecto del paro, se convirtiera en una espera de varias horas en trenes y estaciones. Al tratarse de un viaje a esa referencia en innovación urbana que es la capital catalana, para compartir, además, ideas sobre una representación física tan clara de los flujos de conocimiento global como los distritos de innovación, me pareció que el profesor Manuel Castells y su “Space of Flows” (última parte de su fundamental obra “La sociedad red”) iba a ser una más que adecuada compañía.

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Sentimental Urban Planning

Translated from its Spanish version by Nicolas Cook

Android theme “The Sentimental City”

I watched “Interstellar” a while back, a movie in which the human race escapes from climate disaster using an artefact of theoretical physics known as a “Wormhole”. I once wrote that que the most sensible way of avoiding an environmental “Armageddon” would be to put intelligent urban planning into practice as soon as possible, which encourages cities of certain densities, with mixed uses, and with active public spaces. Intelligent urban planning is rational, or perhaps enlightened. It provides a basis for a sustainable mobility, for energy savings in building construction and management, and for an economy that is less intensive in its use of materials and energy – more circular.

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