How do global networks manifest themselves in everyday life? And how are limited analog spaces reflected in the potentially unlimited realm of the virtual? What can be done to counteract a polarisation of digital and analog living environments? How can digital globetrotters be motivated to relocate their projects, free floating in network environments, in the “flesh and stone” (Sennett) of the cities? What spaces of possibility (linked to the concept of the European city) can be created for the newly emerging modes of living? And by whom?
These are just some of the questions that will have focus at next month’s conference “The City of Flows – Interdisciplinary perspectives on the digital city in analog spaces”, taking place July 12-14 in Postdam, Germany. International speakers and acedemics from all aspects of the planning field will on hand to discuss these thought provoking topics, just to name a few:
City of Flows program coordinators recently sat down with on of their featured speakers, urban studies Professor ,PhD. and researcher, Hermann Voesgen, to ask him, about his thoughts the changes are taking place in the relationship between the physical city and its inhabitants. Here is some of what he had to say:
“New technologies are bringing about major changes to the relationship between us and our physically constructed environment. It began with the Walkman and the ability to create one’s own personal aural space. The aural space of each Walkman user is different. The next step is happening today as digital technologies emancipate us from the space we physically occupy, individualising our visual perceptions of the city. Thanks to GPS, people seeking to orientate themselves in the city do not require physical orientation references. The logic of spatial interrelationships, whether applied to cities organised around a historical centre or planned model towns, is becoming less and less significant. All destinations can be located regardless of their position.”
When asked if digital technologies could be changing our perception of mobility and property, Voesgen replied, “The private property construct dominates the daily organisation of our lives. One has to possess everything: own an apartment, own a car, own various other items. In terms of resource usage and living practicalities, this approach cannot in the long term function to assure quality of life. Owning a private car in a major city does not make sense, and on the digital level there are a great many alternatives. Car sharing services offer optimum functionality if they are digitally managed and coordinated. A car is always available and my usage options are hardly limited at all – that means I don't have to rely on my private property, and that is extremely smart. Digital technologies offer me the chance to experience urban mobility in a different way. On the analog side of things, an urban district also needs people who are prepared to take on responsibility for social-spatial factors and who are reachable rather than just interacting with each other anonymously online. These things belong together.
During the CIty of Flows conference, Voesgen will be presenting on the ritual of participation. His lecture will explore three current trends in civic participation and evaluate them from the perspective of the smart city concept:
In other words, how modern is the human being in self-selected communities? Jutta M. Bott, Professor for Social Work theory, practice and strategy, delves into this subject in her City of Flows presentation:
“In a digitally-determined world, we expect information to be available quickly whenever it is required; we demand a range of options for getting together with others and a high degree of flexibility in all aspects of our contact with other people. But what happens to this high-speed lifestyle when people require help or care, or responsibility has to be assumed and continuity ensured? Children; the sick and elderly: these are people that simply require more attention and care, and they cannot, or at least should not, be left to fend for themselves. Such persons often need help in everyday tasks. But their involvement in events in their local district, neighbourhood or city also usually requires the presence of others. Do digital technologies help us here? Do they negate the necessity of a dependable presence?”