Janet Jones Obsolescence

Digital cities Week 1 Blog

Hi everyone here on the digital cities module, my name is Janet and here’s a bit about me. Professionally and personally my background has little direct link to the concepts of digital cities. Since medical retirement from professional work, my interest has grown in forms of digital literacy, communication and storytelling. Personal and community narratives recorded in different media formats such as film, audio and photographs is something I would like to explore within the ‘digital cities’ context.

In 2004 at a literacy conference in the UK, I developed a friendship with a Canadian writer and teacher who lives in the city of Vancouver. We have been in contact ever since, initially by email then by Skype and other video calling as the software has developed. In conversation this week, she described how she was unable to purchase ink for her printer because at 8 years old, whilst still basically functioning, it was too old to obtain cartridges. This could be an example of what is described by Sassen (2013) as ‘digital obsolescence’. The speed of technological development of digital infrastructure in cities presents a risk of obsolescence but also the associated inequalities as communities and people are unable to keep up.

This leads me to wonder about some issues which face development of digital cities. Having moved 3 times in 2 years whilst studying in Brighton, I now have what I call my remote control, telephone and data wires graveyard in plastic boxes at the bottom of a wardrobe! The thing which unsettles me most is the sheer waste of raw materials and finance. Technical obsolescence is something which will be difficult to outrun. On this subject, Sassen (2003) also refers to ‘hacking’ at the interactive interface, as a creative means of avoiding death through obsolescence of the digital city.

I am not at a stage yet where I am clear about module topics but digital literacy and storytelling remain most consistently of interest and I look forward to the learning journey.


Sasses, S ( 2003) Urbanising Technology, Urban Age Electric City, YouTube video, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyS1H_Zs4po

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