Thursday, October 03, 2013

Is this what future cities will be like?

After last class' lecture on Modernity, and the different interpretations of what it means, I've come across this website: What does a Smart City Look like?

The "Smart City" reminded me of some features of Modernity discussed in class.  First, the striking amount of new technology used to advance the city to strive towards modernity is mind-boggling. And this makes me realize that moving towards modernity meant that things had to be efficient, productive and progressive. Everyone had to be connected somehow and in some someway (through the internet for example) and the environment had to be as pristine as possible. The technology involved in the whole experience is characteristic of a modern city by nature, suggested by Simmel's article "The Metropolis and Mental Life" (1995).

Second, I think the idea of city management relates very well to city planning / urban planning. In one way, to manage a city is to organize it so that it is 'planned', by this I mean major players in the planning (or people who have a say in the plan) are those of significant power or wealth in a city, who set up the city to their desires. This brings into questions such as the reality of the rich/poor dichotomy and how that comes into play, as this "Smart City" seem to be geared more towards the rich. I could only imagine what the costs of it all would be like... to be able to have 'pristine environments', and internet wherever one goes, and all these high-tech gadgets that tell you how to live your life basically. Put in this way, I feel like cities will be controlling us rather than us 'managing' the city.

Lastly, the idea of a utopia comes to mind as this very much contrasts with the rural, and strengthens the difference between rural and urban life, not only in terms of structure but of lifestyle and standards as well. All the forms of transportation are symbolic, (as seen in the video), they all are very high-tech and symbolize a linear progressive direction to the bright future. The things seen only in movies and video games are becoming a reality as innovative technologies are so easily attainable.

The whole idea of it all seems very ambitious, but possible, perhaps in the future world of innovation and technologies, the future of cities will look something similar to a "Smart City". I'd have to admit though, it all seems very cool! But I can't help but also wonder about our safety, and risk of impersonators or fraud, or people 'hacking' into your life with all these high-tech stuff....


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