Contested Futures and Smart Technologies

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 6A P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Débora LANZENI, IN3-UOC, Spain
Elisenda ARDEVOL, IN3-UOC, Spain
Contested Futures and Smart Technologies

Debora Lanzeni and Elisenda Ardevol

We endorse digital technologies with the promises of a better way of life, solving our problems of managing the world complexity, allowing better participatory policies and helping us in our daily-life. At the same time, we are in trouble with its dark side of surveillance, control and inequality distribution of power. But digital technologies developments, practices and users are not homogeneous and different images of future are in dispute.

This paper  wants to critically analyse Digital Culture promises and worries, taking into account the tensions raised by different material practices, understandings and moral orders (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006) around the role of digital technologies in performing futures, what kind of futures are imagined and how these images of the future design our present and perform current fears and desires. In special, we will examine how different visions of future are embedded in digital design. Drawing in our ethnographic fieldwork, we will unpack the “smart” technologies in relation to two contested image of future: that of “smart cities” –based on the development of the image of a self-auto-regulated city- and that of “smart citizens” –based on the believe that smart technologies empower citizens to control their cities and quality of life. For that purpose, we will develop an analytical framework to understand this contested futures  by unpacking the relationship between the social imaginary (Castoriadis, 1997), utopic visions (Moore, 1990) and the visions of future (Suchman, 2011; Watts, 2015; Kinsley, 2012) that are embedded in everyday digital technology developers.