The Right(s) to the Hybrid City and the Role of DIY Networking
AbstractWe reconsider the concept of “the right to the city”, introduced by French philosopher Henri Lefebvre, in the light of the new information space that ICTs create in contemporary urban environments. Such spaces include the use of global online social networks, locative media, e-participation platforms, online neighbourhood communities and so forth. Unlike the physical urban space that it overlays, this new and rapidly emerging virtual space has practically no capacity constraints. However, it is subject to inequalities in terms of access, representation, participation, and ownership. In this research note—an interdisciplinary collaboration between a computer scientist and an urban planner—we wish to study the role of wireless technology, which enables the easy deployment of local networks operating outside the public Internet, and the role of the free and open source social software, which facilitates the easy development of customized local applications, allowing citizens to shape their emerging hybrid space. We suggest that this sort of do-it-yourself (DIY) networking can be realised according to citizens’ values, objectives and the particularities of the environment, and could ultimately enable them to compete with large ICT corporations such as Google and Facebook for their “right(s) to the hybrid city”. We employ the urban sidewalk metaphor as an application that is subject to hybrid design and can profit significantly from the special characteristics of DIY networks.
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