Published on February 24, 2014
Temporal Aspects of Splintering Urbanism Stephen Graham Newcastle University
I Starting Points: Cities, Networks, Timespace • Both cities and networked technologies facilitate timespace interaction and communication • Cities overcome time constraints by minimising space constraints • Networked infrastructures and technologies overcome space constraints by minimising time constraints • Time/Space therefore socially constituted together through constructions of urban everyday life which necessarily involve both urban places and networked technologies • Therefore need perspective which addresses parallel reconfigurations of both cities and networked mobilities
II Generalised Theories of Urban Timespace Often Unhelpful • General over-reliance on metaphorical and generalised understandings of how intensifying networked connections and globalised flows might ‘impact’ on cities and urban life • E.g.s. Harvey’s ‘Time-Space Compression’ • Castells’s ‘Space of Flow’ overpowering the ‘space of places’ • Virilio generalized crisis of urban space due to absolute, virtual acceleration: ‘tyranny of real time’
Example-- The Death of Cities Through ICTs • 1964 - Marshall McLuhan "the city as a form of major dimensions must inevitably dissolve like the fading shot in a movie" . • 1991 - Naisbitt and Aburdene "in many ways, if cities did not exist, it now would not be necessary to invent them". • 1993 Virilio "the city of the past slowly becomes a paradoxical agglomeration in which relations of immediate proximity give way to interrelationships over distance." • 1997 -Martin Pawley, "in urban terms, once time has become instantaneous, space becomes unnecessary." • 2000 Charles Leadbeater “at the moment it is as if we occupy two worlds at once”
Problems… • • • • • • Don’t match empirical urban trends Long history of dreams of substitution: never fulfilled! Technologically determinist: miss contingencies Totalising: miss complex diversity of City-ICT links Top-down: globalisation ‘rolls over’ local places Neglect social power imbalances in relationship to urban and technological change • Binaries miss subtle and fine-grain ways in which corporeality, urban co-presence, and valued urban places are revalorised through networked technologies • Miss crucial role of urban place and co-presence in shaping ICT use and their advantages for symbolic, ritualised and tacit communication
Instead Cities are Being Remediated as ‘Gearboxes Full of Speed’ (Wark) • Cyberspace is "very much a part of our contemporary world and is constituted through a series of remediations. As a digital network, cyberspace remediates the electric communications networks of the past 150 years, the telegraph and the telephone; as virtual reality, it remediates the visual space of painting, film, and television ; and as social space, it remediates such historical places as cities and parks and such 'nonplaces' as theme parks and shopping malls. Like other contemporary telemediated spaces, cyberspace refashions and extends earlier media, which are themselves embedded in material and social environments” (Bolter and Grusin).
III Such Remediations and Multiple Speeds Constituted through Splintering Urbanism • Shift from Modern Infrastructural Ideal of Keynesian-FordistDevelopmentalist urban timespace (Unitary City) to flexible, sprawling, neoliberal, post Keynesian/ developmental urban regimes • Infrastructures, mobilities, timespace increasingly unbundled and packaged • Premium network spaces for privileged users/ spaces
IV Temporal Aspects of Splintering Urbanism • Packaged, unbundled, often privatised infrastructures and premium network spaces (PNSs) carefully configured to support mobilities and commodified timespaces • New digital surveillance and access control • PNSs erupt within and between legacies of modern infrastructural ideal • Critical supports for neoliberal urbanism: Bypass congestion, support transnational logistical flows, exclude users deemed risky and dangerous, secede or capsularise from public cityscape • Thus accelerated urban timespaces not generalised but configured for carefully selected users. Can be barriers for others who face deceleration.
(i) Glocal Bypass Archipeligo of transglobal and urban fibre networks
Air travel as city-to-city ‘tunnel effect’
Premium airport links bypass prevailing rail systems
(ii) Local Bypass Private, electronically tolled highways
Local splintering: Central congestion charging
Satellite splintering? S splin
Car culture: capsularisation and bypass
Local bypass: Premium street and mall spaces
Local splintering: gated communities
Local bypass: Water apartheid
(iii) Virtual Network Competition
Call centre timespaces: Global outsourcing & differential queuing
The Internet: ‘best effort’ to prioritised packets
• So many attempts within broader splintering urbanism trends to forge exclusionary timespaces which erupt within and between globalised, network cities • But: these are attempts. They face resistance, porosities,many constraints, and are often ineffective • Superimposed on more egalitarian legacies of modern infrastructural ideal • Also paralleled by range of often more empowering attempts to remediate urban places, especially through new generations of ICTs
V Conclusions • Instead of generalised timespace shifts which somehow undermining all cities everywhere cities I see, rather, a broad set of trends surrounding splintering urbanism. These are remediating, rather than eviscerating, urban places • SU perspective stresses new power geometries of bypass, surveillance, mobility, infrastructure and flow. Encompasses, multiple networks and scales (bogy to globe) and mutual constitution of urban and infrastructural change • Access control, bypass, consumerisation: configured as part of shift to globalised, networked, neoliberal, urbanism • But these systems erupt within and between wider legacies of modern infrastructural ideal. They have real limits. And they are being resisted through more democratic remediations of the city
• “One person’s infrastructure is another person’s liability” Susan Leigh-Star
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Text. 1.Temporal Aspects of Splintering Urbanism Stephen Graham Newcastle University
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