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Issue No. 012

Vol. 12 - March 2010
ICT & The City

Do you remember classic newspapers? Those large pieces of printed paper of the pre-internet-era (the pre-iPad-era in particular) that you got delivered manually in the morning or that you bought at the kiosk round the corner on your way to work. A medium that specifically shaped our cities as cafes or - in more distinguished areas - some noble clubs had to be established where those papers could be read and talked over again – in more or less distinguished ways. On the other hand major parts of what one could read in those papers were the latest gossip that some when exceeded the village square. Thus not only due to the mere size of cities but also due to the possibili-ties of inclusion and exclusion only a city allows for and that must be overcome by a news medium like the newspaper. Finally, event notes became necessary to advice a potential audience on where to go to and what to see only to tell of its suc-ceeding or falling flat in the next issue. A virtuous circle appears: the city is a mediating as well as a mediated space.

Nevertheless, urban space is a largely neglected topic in contemporary political philosophy and ethics. The absence of explicit works on the city in the field of information ethics is even more sur-prising given the general interest in the concept of space in contemporary philosophy: cyberspace, global village and communities are the terms used – nothing derived from the living space where the majority of humankind lives. Is that by accident or by purpose? Is there may be a categorical differ-ence between the urban and the cyber space?

To find profound answers to these valid questions we dedicated this issue on the reflection of the mutual shaping of the city and ICTs, especially on its ethical and political dimensions.

We do thank the editors of this issue, Michael Nagenborg, Anders Albrechtslund, Martin Klamt and David Murakami Wood for exploring this interesting subject, introducing it into the scholarly discourse with their profound call for paper and producing together with the authors a brilliant new issue of IRIE. For some reason we had to confine ourselves this time with only four articles dealing with the subject asked for – fully in accordance with our striving for quality, not quantity.

All the more we are happy that Charles Ess handed in his position paper that he prepared for the special panel discussion “Changes of the Internet - Changing Information Ethics?” on occa-sion of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the International Center for Information Ethics @ CEPE 09 (June 27, 2009) with the title “Brave New Worlds? The Once and Future Information Ethics”.

We hope to contribute with this issue once again to your personal thinking of the future of the infor-mation society and look forward to any corollary it may have.

Yours sincerely,

the editors.

Vol. 12 (full journal)
edited by Michael Nagenborg, Anders Albrechtslund, Martin Klamt, David Murakami Wood
pdf-fulltext (1.005 KB)


On "ICT & The City"
by Michael Nagenborg, Anders Albrechtslund, Martin Klamt, David Murakami Wood
Language: English

Digital Materiality as Imprints and Landmarks: The case of Northern Lights
by Anna Croon Fors and Mikael Wiberg
Language: English
abstract:   In this paper a case is made concerning how important levels of media technology and new interactive tex-tures affect urban landscapes. The case is based on experiences and empirical examples from a Scandinavian city (Northern Lights) in which levels of interactive infrastructures, mediated spaces, and places, are high, and in which accessibility and social inclusion traditionally have been strong components in societal and systems design. Our designerly approach discloses some of ways that the city is enacted by a new digital materiality. This materiality can only bee disclosed if the relationship between the city and ICT is understood as a meaningful whole – a totality – in this text illustrated by the notions of landmarks and imprints. Based on our case we suggest that it is possible to employ an ethical dwelling reflecting the endless, active and ongo-ing responsibility for the city and its interactive textures in everyday life.

The cybercity as a medium. Public living and agency in the digitally shaped urban space
by Seija Ridell
Language: English
abstract:   The digitalized urban environment is explored in the paper as a medium with several overlapping and inter-weaving spatial layers. The author suggests that it has grown increasingly complex in the multi-spaced and multiply scaled cybercities for people to share in public space. Moreover, the challenges of public living in contemporary urban settings emerge most intensely at the points of intersection of the invisible technostruc-ture and the (mass) media saturated phenomenality of the city. At these intersections, one ethically and politically burning issue is how people through their ICT-related activities contribute to the =automatic produc-tion of space‘. More specifically, critical attention should be paid to people‘s active, but not necessarily self-reflexive, participation in the consolidation of the =technological unconscious‘ that conditions their own public agency.

Sensing Environmental Danger in the City
by Torin Monahan, Jennifer T. Mokos
Language: English
abstract:   In this paper, we identify and discuss some of the ethical problems associated with digital sensors used to detect water contamination and air pollution in the United States. Such safety devices are often deployed unsystematically and with questionable efficacy, thereby structuring the life chances of people in unequal ways. Whereas most technological infrastructures are hidden from view . or at least from active awareness . until they cease to function, those infrastructures meant to monitor and/or regulate largely "invisible" public health dangers resist public awareness even when they fail. Because such detection systems tend to indivi-dualize responsibility for reducing risk, the systems may normalize and perhaps exacerbate root problems of contamination and unequal exposure. One ethical challenge is to render such systems and their failures legible.

Manifestations and implications of an augmented urban life
by Rodrigo Firmino and Fábio Duarte
Language: English
abstract:   In this paper we investigate how the shift to a completely urban global world intertwined by ubiquitous and mobile ICTs changes the ontological meaning of space, and how the use of these technologies challenges the social and political construction of territories and the cultural appropriation of places. Our approach to this conceptual debate will focus on what we consider to be more direct and tangible implications of this augmen-tation of urban life. Three types of manifestations will represent the core of the discussions presented here, both through theoretical approaches and analytical descriptions of some examples: surveillance artefacts which permeate our daily life and allow a hypothetical total control of space; locative media that gives us the freedom of spatial mobility and the possibility of creating and recreating places; and the global networks of signs, values and ideologies, which break down the social and political boundaries of territories.

Brave New Worlds? The Once and Future Information Ethics
by Charles Ess
Language: English
abstract:   I highlight several aspects of current and future developments of the internet, in order to draw from these in turn specific consequences of particular significance for the ongoing development and expansion of informa-tion ethics. These consequences include changing conceptions of self and privacy in both Western and Eastern countries, and correlative shifts from the communication technologies of literacy and print to a \secondary orality.. These consequences in turn imply that current and future information ethics should focus on developing a global but pluralistic virtue ethics - one that may offset the anti-democratic dangers of such secondary orality.


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