Week 4: Code/Space

According to “On the one hand, “public” can simply mean “outside the home” or “outside private space.”” (Berry et al., 2013, p.3). he was referring to Hannay (2005), the first definition of “Public” is the space out of the home or private space. Therefore, it is not only the squares or roads in the city, but also the space owned by the government but used by citizens, like bus stations or department stores. However, “public” is also defined as a political construction incorporated with liberty, which means all individual citizens can gather to have discussion about common issues. Hence, activities in public are often considered to be held face-to-face, like meetings or demonstrations.

Berry also says: Commuting, a task done by the laborer, has been both alleviated and interfered by modern technologies. Technological devices such as Ipads or mobile phones are considered “immaterial labor”, but “their manufacture belongs to a super-Fordist mode of production” (Berry et al., 2013, p.11). Imaterial labor is the labour that creates cultural value and in this term, there is a shortage of boundaries in laborers’ lives, as workers will eventually work on their own or spend a large amount of time thinking. This thinking time is hard to be measured and hence not paid for.

Code/space is the term pointing out the strong connection between software and spatiality. The former is produced to create the latter. This means “a dyadic relationship exists between code and spatiality” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2001, p.16). The illustration for code/space is an airport check-in counter, whose spatiality relies on software. If the code is broken down, the counter will no longer be a check-in area and become disorganised. Therefore, the space depends on the code. The same goes for supermarkets’ check-out areas, where computer systems play a vital role to decide the function of the space. Unless the code used for the system works properly, the counter cannot serve as a check-out space for customers. This means “the sociospatial production of the supermarket is functionally dependent on code” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2001, p.17).




Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., (2011). Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Week 4: Code/Space

When reading this case study, it seems there are many similarities between the characteristics of shipping containers and their uses, and software / computational code.

Shipping containers Code
Mid-century technology, originally used for military purposes, re-purposed to expand globalisation, commerce, and convenience Mid-century technology, originally used for military purposes, re-purposed to expand globalisation, commerce, and convenience
Changes the landscape of the towns and cities which use them for businesses e.g. Oakland, California Changes the landscape of the towns and cities which use them for businesses e.g. Silicon Valley, California
“Scalable solutions” for modern problems “Scalable” as one of Manovich’s five key characteristics of digital media
Used across multiple public services including, but not limited to, military, government, energy, healthcare, sanitation, food production, internet access Used across multiple public services including, but not limited to, military, government, energy, healthcare, sanitation, food production, internet access
Also used to cater for expanding social landscape which has emerged from our relationship with the space around us e.g. pop-up retail and bars Also used to cater for expanding social landscape which has emerged from our relationship with the space around us e.g. location-based dating apps
Cheap, accessible infrastructure for growing economies e.g. mobile internet cafes Cheap, accessible infrastructure for growing economies e.g. cheap smart phones enabling citizens to organise protests


Both have them have made lasting, measurable impacts to how people experience the space around them. They have brought the global to our doorstep, made it cheap and accessible. (Kitchin, Dodge, 2011:8) Their presence in our everyday lives has become ubiquitous, as when discussing code, known as everyware. (2011:9) Kitchin and Dodge explore how close the relationship is between code and space: “[they are] produced through one another” (2011:17) to the extent that once cannot be experienced without the other. (2011:16) It would not be too much to come to similar conclusions about shipping containers. So much of what we see, touch, smell, own, taste, and by extension how we experience the space around us, has come from a shipping container, to the extent that our societies would be unrecognisable were it not for the technologies that shaped it.


Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R. 2013. ‘Introduction’ Public space, media space. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan pp 1-15.

Kitchin, R., Dodge, M. 2011. Code/space: Software in everyday life. Cambridge, MIT Press.

Morgan, S. ‘The plug and play city: how shipping containers are changing infrastructure’ The Conversation, 29th August 2016 < https://theconversation.com/the-plug-and-play-city-how-shipping-containers-are-changing-infrastructure-63125> accessed 24/02/2020.

Week 4 – Code/Space (Miriam Harvey)

Kitchin and Dodge (2011:20) describe their book Code/Space as being “about the relationship of software, space, and society”. The case study I chose this week (from http://www.scoop.it/t/the-programmable-city) is an article in Wired magazine about smart cars needing smart streets (Luke Dormehl, 2016) to communicate with and respond to each other to help their users. It is an example of code/space because Dormehl demonstrates in his article the relationship between cars, city and users.

Dormehl quotes Anthony Townsend to explain why traffic management is a problem that needs solving. Townsend describes the street as “a very complicated version of musical chairs”; a “scarce, expensive piece of land and resource” where “the more you co-ordinate it, the more benefits you can get.” He continues by pointing out that “30 per cent of traffic in cities is caused by people driving around looking for parking”.

The solution to this problem might be coming from a winning entry to a Smart City Challenge organised by the US Department of Transport, implemented by Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs. It involves “the use of camera-equipped vehicles […]  to count the number of available parking spaces in the city, as well as reading relevant parking signs [aggregated] with data from Google Maps [to] help direct drivers to empty spaces”. In this vision of the future, the code will be doing their “double duty” (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011:26) communicating in a machine-to-machine language between car and city, as well as in “an understandable notation for humans” such as a sat-nav image or an audio message in English to let the human car user know where to park their car.

Continuing on the theme of car/city communications, Dormehl refers to a recent data-sharing agreement between traffic app Waze and the city of Boston. The data that the city wanted from Waze is collected by the Waze app on car users’ mobile phones. This data is quietly collected through software that runs code to instruct the phone to collect GPS coordinates, calculate the speed and distance travelled, and capture use feedback. Kitchin and Dodge (2011:4) note that “although code in general is hidden, invisible inside the machine, it produces visible and tangible effect in the world”.

The ‘visible and tangible effects’ for Waze users is information that enables them to avoid traffic problems. The agreement between Waze and the city enhanced this service. Dormehl reports that “[i]n exchange for advance notice from city authorities about planned road closures, Waze agreed to share data gathered from its users with Boston’s traffic management centre”. The data collected from Waze users’ phones now had a wider, more long-term benefit as “this data exchange will help Boston to fine-tune its traffic light timings and urban planning.”

These two examples illustrate the point made by Kitchin and Dodge (2011:42) about the technicity of code where “software acts autonomously, and at various points in the process is able to automatically process inputs and to react accordingly”. However, they note that “technicity of code is not deterministic […] Rather, technicity is contingent, negotiated, and nuanced; realized through its practice by people in relation to historical and geographical context.” The software in smart cars and smart cities needs the human users to give it purpose. As illustrated in this artist’s impression from the 1950s of a future world with self-driving cars, the car journey is determined by humans while the car and the road work together to execute their pre-coded instructions.

1950s depiction of driverless cars

“A 1950s illustration depicting a utopian world of driverless cars. Photograph: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images”
Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/03/collision-course-pedestrian-deaths-rising-driverless-cars

The case study shows that there are new relationships emerging between public streets and the people, cars, technology services and city planners. Berry et al (2013:1) note a tension around the ownership of public spaces, stating that it “is almost by defini-tion contested, or at least negotiated, space in that no one person or company can unequivocally own and control it.” Maybe the notion of ‘pubic’ and ‘private’ should be reconsidered, as a smart city requires interdependence, and data to be collected, shared and used in a way that blurs the old boundaries between public and private.



Berry, C., Harbord, J. & Moore, R.O., 2013. Public space, media space, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Dormehl, L. (2016). ‘The road to tomorrow: streets need to be as smart as the cars driving on them’. Wired. 7 November. Available from: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/smart-cars-need-smart-streets

Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., (2011). Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press


Week 3: Data and the smart city: Critical perspectives

“There are few examples of progressive smart cities, but Barcelona’s recent reorientation of its smart city ambitions offers some pointers.” (Kitchin, R., 2019: 19)

A right-wing government allows Barcelona to be urbanized in a neoliberal approach. It implemented a wide range of smart city initiatives and it aims to bring smart cities around the world by SCEWC event. Nevertheless, there was a change in the approach to smart cities in May 2015. The purpose of this change is to make smart city campaigns focus more on citizens and promote participatory characteristic, which means that local people can use and own the technology. This is called “technological sovereignty”. According to Galdon, the source of technologies is committed to be open and there ought to be a guarantee for the residents to have access to it. Bria (2018) also emphasizes that citizens should have a close connection with technology and their rights need to be maintained.

“Cities cannot succeed in isolation.”  (P. 54)

This can be expressed by civic applications, data controlling or sensors done by the public instead of specific companies. In addition to this, Barcelona has tried to change the policy of the smart city to move the control and creation out of the private interests. Instead, it promotes the social development and civic movements. All of these endeavors including technological sovereignty illustrate the right decision in politics of the city.

To make cities develop and become successful, government need to ally with cities or political organizations to make sure that all devices or software can be used by the public rather than corporates. Therefore, there should be a participation of local companies or entrepreneurs in providing inventive services that protect the rights of workers and labor standards. This approach can enhance democracy and help to develop the economy in which laborers’ rights are ensured and long-term benefits are promoted. This is certainly not the only action that can be done, but it demonstrates how making a change in technological factors can develop the general welfare.




Data and the smart city: Critical perspectives

A number of examples discuss what it means to be ‘ smarter ‘ on BBC Radio 4 Podcast in smart cities reveals the implications of the innovation approach for residents living in the smart city of Songdo. The BBC Radio 4 Podcast demonstrates that there have been many technological and infrastructure improvements to the city to make it “smarter “: more secure, sustainable for community and economically beneficial to citizens of that city.

The first example is that in Songdo is the implementation of a smart waste system that enables waste and waste trucks to be eliminated, with 76 percent of the waste being recycled.The waste system collects waste from the kitchens directly to a refinery.this approach can be seen as sustaining the environment and would probably help to keep the atmosphere clean and more desirable for tourist.


The other example is in Songdo was designed to track sensors ‘ temperature, energy consumption and traffic. Such sensors could alert you directly if your bus is overdue. And notify the local government of any possible problems.Therefore, the government could use these sensors to reliably view the environment and its major pollutants helping citizens to understand the nuances of air pollution in their everyday lives.Some people see this as a solution to a safety environmental.

Despite these key improvements and a range of initiatives over the last decade,Songdo is also a town under constant surveillance 500 cameras provide a complete grid coverage to monitor traffic or detect’ suspicious’ behaviour. Even the opening of the sewer cover is immediately notified to the IFEZ control centre in one of the towers in Songdo.It shows much of the government’s effect and implication. (Le Monde.fr, 2020)

According to (Miller, 2011p 24) The implication is that smart solutions based on traffic data collected in one place are unlikely to be universally applicable.That means not everyone is in agreement with the government’s way. Therefore, people will contradict on the way of smart cities will operate as being only beneficial.



BBC News. (2020). Has ‘smart’ Songdo been a success?. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23757738 [Accessed 17 Feb. 2020)

Le Monde.fr. (2020). Songdo, ghetto for the affluent. [online] Available at: https://www.lemonde.fr/smart-cities/article/2017/05/29/songdo-ghetto-for-the-affluent_5135650_4811534.html [Accessed 17 Feb. 2020].

Miller, V. (2011) ‘Understanding Digital Culture’ Key Elements of Digital Media London,Sage publications. pp 24



Week 3: Data and the smart city: Critical perspectives

The case study being used to demonstrate Mosco’s perspectives on ‘smart cities’ was found in a Guardian article entitled “Inside Greece’s first smart city” and features the small Greek city of Trikala.

There were many technological additions to the city to make it “smart”: more efficient, accessible and economically beneficial for residents and the nation at large.

The first example is the e-complaint system where residents use an application or an online portal to tell the council about issues facing the city: for example, an overflowing bin or a broken streetlamp. Problems such as these were resolved in an average of eight days as opposed to a month, and the whole process of requesting services from the council was a lot more transparent. The many it was considered a success.

Trikala as a smart city has the aspects of the smart city as a ‘platform’ as illustrated by Mosco (2019: 34). When applied to the council, and by extension the way the city operates, it has all the features of an online platform: a brand, a business, an interface that can be engaged with and where citizens can access a service. The council has become in itself “a platform located in physical space that meets the needs of citizens” (2019: 35).

In many ways it contradicts what Cardullo, Di Feliciantonio, and Kitchin (2019) explore as the ethical and social implications of smart cities, and how smart cities borne into a neo-liberal political environment it can be a detriment to those from diverse or disadvantaged social backgrounds (i.e. not white, male, middle-class and tech savvy). The example of Trikala as a smart city shows great benefit for citizens which is another of Mosco’s is key characteristics of smart cities. The elderly in the city, although reluctant at first, now have access to smart housing which monitors their health, and children now have opportunities to work in the tech in the future which is optimistic for Greece’s struggling economy. Mosco believes that serving the best interests of citizens is what makes a city smart, as opposed to new technology for the sake of business expansion. (2019: 38)

However even the Trikala example is problematic as its funding includes private companies Sieben and Parkguru as well as offering up itself as a test site for local tech companies. Trikala, as an example, draws the fine line between having active, engaged citizens (Cardullo, Di Feliciantonio, Kitchin 2019:11) to “re-orientation of citizenship towards market principles.” (2019: 13).


Cardullo, P. & Di Feliciantonio, C. & Kitchin, R. 2019. ‘Citizenship, Justice and the Right to the Smart City’ in The Programmable City Issue 41, October 2018.

Mosco, V. 2019. ‘How to Think about Smart Cities’ The Smart City in a Digital World Bingley, Emerald Publishing.

Rainey, V. ‘Inside Greece’s first smart city: ‘Now you don’t need to know a politician to get something done’’ The Guardian, 4th September 2018 <https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/sep/04/trikala-greece-first-smart-city-dont-need-to-know-a-politician-to-get-something-done> accessed 17/02/2020.




Week 3 – Data and the smart city (Miriam Harvey)

Mosco (2019, ch 2) identifies a number of perspectives and aspects of digital smart cities, including technology, citizens, space-time, computer and platform. I would like to start by looking at platforms, which Mosco explains as follows:

“Materially, platforms are defined spaces with starting points and directions to get from those points to others within the platform. […] Platforms are not limited to cyberspace. They can also occupy material spaces and the city is a likely candidate for the term because it occupies a defined space that provides a starting point (your home, your workplace, your hotel) and markers that take people wherever they need to go in the city. […] It suggests that the city is not just a thing but is also a process” (p35).

Mosco’s description above implies that getting for one point to another is the key activity, but this should be interpreted more broadly and he continues with an introduction to the concept of the city as a service. He quotes Woods (2018) on this topic:

“The idea of the smart city platform encompasses both the technical aspects of the platform concept and an emerging vision of the city as a service, enabling an innovative ecosystem of urban service providers from a diversity of industries.”

I will explore this idea of the smart city platform and the city as a service, plus I will add later Mosco’s perspective of space-time, using my case study. The case study I have chosen is a platform in cyberspace utilising physical spaces in cities, with a peer to peer model that appears to by-pass government controls. My case study is Airbnb, which describes itself as an “economic empowerment engine [helping] millions of hospitality entrepreneurs monetize their spaces and their passions while keeping the financial benefits of tourism in their own communities” (Airbnb, n.d.)

In a Wired article, Temperton (2020) exposed a scam on Airbnb operating in London. The scam includes thousands of fake reviews, which consumers have to rely on to know whether to trust the Airbnb ‘hosts’. These reviews were for properties built with planning permission specifically for residential units (not short-term rentals). Temperton also shows how powerless or unwilling the government authorities were to enforce regulations that should have protected the interests of the local residents, who needed homes and not an Airbnb de facto hotel.

Temperton explains the challenges faced by regulators who do not have the data they need to do their job, quoting an unnamed academic as saying  “It’s the data that you need to govern the city, to regulate, to do urban planning. And Airbnb refuses to give this data, which makes it impossible for policymakers to effectively measure and monitor the phenomenon, let alone regulate it.” The data they need is a register of short-term rentals, to be able to protect the availability of residential housing stock.

Authorities need Airbnb to give them the data, as opposed to them collecting it themselves, because Airbnb has blurred the visible line between residential and commercial properties. They have successfully used another one of the smart city aspects identified by Mosco (2019:32-33), which is “the vision of smart cities as ‘space-time’ machines [where] Smart city technologies increase the elasticity and hence the value of space and time”. This elasticity is blurring boundaries, but a website that is trying to provide a clearer picture is Inside Airbnb (see screenshot).

screenshot of Airbnb data in LondonScreenshot from Inside Airbnb which “analyzi[es] publicly available information about a city’s Airbnb’s listings, […] so you can see how Airbnb is being used to compete with the residential housing market”. (Inside Airbnb, n.d.)

I conclude by asking what the biggest challenge would be if a government did try to regulate and control Airbnb.  Morozov and Bria (2018:17) argue that Airbnb has “immense power to mobilize users via their own apps and emails [which] means they can rally support against regulation relatively quickly.” They also claim that Airbnb is “organizing its fans into a worldwide movement with an explicit political agenda”. This sounds extreme, but there clearly is a power struggle between governments, big technology companies and the citizens when their interests are not aligned.



Airbnb (n.d.) About us. Available from https://news.airbnb.com/about-us/

Inside Airbnb (n.d.) About Inside Airbnb. Available from http://insideairbnb.com/about.html

Morozov, E. and Bria, F. (2018) RETHINKING THE SMART CITY Democratizing Urban Technology. Available from https://onlineopen.org/media/article/583/open_essay_2018_morozov_rethinking.pdf

Mosco, V. (2019) The Smart City in a Digital World. Emerald Publishing Limited. doi: 10.1108/9781787691353.

Temperton, J. (2020). ‘I stumbled across a huge Airbnb scam that’s taking over London’. Wired. 11 February. Available from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/airbnb-scam-london

Woods, E. (2018) cited in Mosco, V. (2019) The Smart City in a Digital World. Emerald Publishing Limited. doi: 10.1108/9781787691353. pp 35-36


Week 2: Smart Cities and Digital Culture

In the BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed podcast on smart cities, a discussion on what it means for a city to be ‘smart’ is examined through multiple examples. To guide our discussion, we will use the definition of smart cities as set out by Townsend as “places where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects, even our bodies to address social economic and environmental problems” (Townsend, 2013: 15), though this definition does have its limitations.


One example explored in the podcast is the traffic in Calcutta; here the infrastructure cannot reliably handle the volume of traffic in the city. (Taylor, 2018) A ‘smart’ solution to such a problem will differ based one the very urban environment in which it is occurring. Miller points out that we have increasingly moved toward a world where information is stored in non-narrative and decentralized databases. The advantage is that theoretically the information contained in these databases can be endlessly reconfigured and reinterpreted, as they are consistent of units of information that variable and constantly transforming, as opposed to information stored in “old media” (Miller,2011: 14).


However, this aspect of the digital age also brings with it its drawbacks. As Miller points out, reducing and reconfiguring information into a digital space, ultimately means that context surrounding that very information is lost. As Miller puts it “where a narrative would provide a context, a cause, a reason, or a story, a database provides a temporary relationship.” (Miller, 2011: 24) The implication being that smart solutions based on traffic data gathered in one place, are unlikely to be applicable universally.


In the podcast it is pointed out that Calcutta’s traffic situation would be more easily remedied by a better public mass transport system, whereas solutions that are often hailed as ‘smart’, like driverless cars, might be a better solution for congestion and pollution in other cities. This illustrates that there is more to a city being smart than just gathering and processing information, it is ultimately also dependent on where and by who the increased information is processed.

This can also be seen in the example of noise pollution on one busy street in Barcelona. Here local residents campaigned to reduce local nighttime hubbub. It was not until they banded together and created a network of low-cost sensors that fed back-on and quantified the problem that they were able to enact change. Through this network they proved that the sound reached “well above UN guidelines.” (Taylor, 2018) It was there very ability to amass and interpret information that brought about substantive social change.


This does raise an issue that might impact a city’s ability to become ‘smart’. As Townsend puts it for cities to become truly smart a “new civics” will be needed, “we need to take back the wheel from the engineers and let people and communities decide where to steer.” (Townsend, 2013: 14) The residents in this example had the means, technology and infrastructure to put the requisite sensors in place – but this is not going to be an option for every community. Socio-economic factors and access to developing technologies are always going to impact on how we can interact with a smart world. No surprise then that Townsend opts to focus on “what do you want a smart city to be?” (Townsend, 2013: 15), rather than what it is.




Miller, V. (2011) ‘Understanding Digital Culture’ Key Elements of Digital Media London, Sage publications. pp 12-21.

Taylor, L. (2018) ‘Smart Cities’ Thinking Allowed podcast 25th July 2018. BBC Sounds accessed 10/02/2020: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b0bbr3zn

Townsend, A.M., (2013) ‘Smart Cities’, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. xi-18.

Week 2: Smart Cities and Digital Culture

When thinking  ‘Smart Cities’ it seems contrary to what one would intuitively expect

Cities are closely interconnected with the spread of information technology. (Townsend,

A.M. 2013 p 6)

The use of Manovich (2011) implies that these cases can be examined from several perspectives with many examples. Therefore, I concentrate on the participation in the transport infrastructure of a smart city of smart solutions, which relate to ways of constructing and using digital media and to the environment that digital media can create.


The case study is in India in the town of Kolkata, which has yet not to become a smart city and where an interview was conducted with a local, about the transportation situation in his town and mentioned the fact that, there are too many vehicles,buses, bicycle cars and animals on the roads in every area of the country. At peak office time, it is even more unbearable because no one follows the road system. (Rose 2018) provides an excellent example of the links occurring between smart cities and smart transport and points out that smart cities can benefit from slow traffic reduction, enhanced road safety and the development of road connexions. In terms of smart environment development, all types of sensors will be accessible in order to track all kinds of traffic. The use of the Internet connecting with our mobile phone to ensure that the person living in the smart city gets information’s on an alternative route so as not to experience long-term traffic. This practice venture on the positive implication of technology in a city to facilitate lifestyle.

First, once we start integrating these different data sets, the algorithm will determine the closest route to where the traffic will be driven and the automated billboard will tell everyone where to go. In the most general sense, a database can be described as a structured data collection  (Manovich, 2001: 218). Second, the algorithm should begin to learn from the recurring pattern of data that is emerging. Nevertheless, the intervention of machine learning or artificial intelligence may require less human and more accurate information. The fundamental question is would be is the population whiling to corporate in this way of being monitored.More often than not, digital media objects break away, and are generally in continuous growth, constantly dialoguing and integrating themselves with the public and with other digital products and technologies Manovich (2001) refer to this as the property of variability.




Hello friends!

My name is Clauvys Lee , I’m a young man, working as a freelance fashion stylist, personal shopper and creative director. Raised in Paris, France with a Gabon background, my creative inspirations come from lifestyles that have a visual impact.

I have completed my previous degree in fashion communication & business studies at the University of Brighton.  While studying the importance and impact of digital media in our society and how it affects our generation, this would be one of the main reasons I have been keen to learn about digital media culture and society.