Ines in the Digital City

(Yes, my post is coming quite late in the game but I had to introduce myself!)

My name is Ines (plus four surnames). I’m from Portugal, I’ve lived in Italy where I completed my BA in Fashion Communication and have recently moved to the UK to study and find work.

When I was a small child in the early 90s we had one of the first black-and-white Apple computers in the study of our small apartment. As soon as my father received a Windows 95 (in full colour!) to work with, that powerful tool with a monochrome display went to the hands of a four-year-old who only saw it as a visually fascinating new toy where she could draw with black and white patterns and play Solitaire. Little did I know that was my first step into a new world, or rather a different way of experiencing and seeing the world that children before me could only have dreamt of.

I am very visually inclined; I am an amateur freelance photographer – I do digital fashion editorials and analog travel photography on my website, http://goldenwolves.net (shameless plugging). I dabble in graphic design, having created the prototype issue of my own magazine all by myself (cue the eponymous song) where I wrote the articles, produced the photographs and did all the layouts, etc. Now I work as photographer and graphic designer for a concept store in Rome, but I also did stints in Social Media Management and Digital PR & Events.

I am fascinated by the modern city, and I don’t mean just ‘futuristic’ experiments; I mean the everyday elements. Traffic cameras and speed sensors and the fact that you can get a traffic ticket even when there’s no policeman physically watching you. Automatic doors in Sainsbury’s, mobile and internet banking and paying your bills online. Sitting down at a café and being almost appalled when they say they don’t have Wi-Fi because “that’s why I sat down in the first place, to save my 4G”. These technologies are ubiquitous, they enhance and control our lives in a myriad of tiny ways that we don’t even realise it sometimes. We rely on mobile data to tell us where we are on Google Maps, see what pharmacies are open when we get a headache at 7pm on a Sunday, and text friends without paying 50p per text.

These things have become so mundane and almost taken for granted that I am curious to see where we go next. What will be the next step in the evolution of the digital city? What innovations will make our cities even smarter? What else can be done for us? And what could be the consequences of that?

I realised recently that having permanent access to the Internet everywhere I am is taking a toll on my studies and ability to concentrate. Whenever I have a lot of reading to go, I head down to my local Costa so I’m not distracted by my laptop and a constant need to stay updated. But without access to their website, I wouldn’t even have known they were there and that they closed at 7h30pm.

Quid pro quo?

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