Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Smart" grids, "smart" cities, "smart" growth - "subversive, or dumb or both"

Peter Foster:
... “smart” has ... become a ubiquitous weasel word that, like “social” and “sustainable,” conceals a multitude of political dangers. 
When it comes to smart grids, smart cities and smart growth, we are dealing with concepts that are potentially subversive, or dumb, or both 
... Technology will obviously continue to shape the city, but the dangers of “over-specification,” that is inflexible top-down design, are highlighted in a recent pamphlet, “Against the smart city”, by New York based urban designer Adam Greenfield. 
... Mr. Greenfield does a wonderful job of explaining the manifest shortcomings and dangers of the overdesigned smart city, but his critique ultimately flies off the rapid transit rails because he sees these urban monstrosities as an offshoot of the “neoliberal agenda,” a Chomskyan phrase that speaks volumes about anybody who uses it. 
... The smart city may be a cover for the moralistic city, and moralism is often a cover for power-seeking.  Indeed, the overweening ambition of “seamlessly coordinating everything” is the very model of sustainable development as conceived by the likes of Canada’s former UN mastermind Maurice Strong.
In fact, the "smart" concept reeks of U.N. Agenda 21, the sustainable development mantrawhich a whole lot of "smart" bureaucrats and politicians in a whole lot of cities round the world have enthusiastically signed on to.  Subversive indeed!

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