The smart city backdrop

"It should come as no surprise that the design and development of urban informatic systems is currently dominated by people coming from a background in web design. Despite the fact that these are very smart, extremely talented people, they struggle - as we all do - with the received assumptions, latent biases, and hidden agendas that one's background inevitably brings to the new and relatively uncharted territory. So you find urban system designers that can't help but view the city as a website"

Mark Shepard, "Toward the Sentient City", Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space, 2011

Why do I blog this? The perusal of this excerpt from Shepard's book about urban informatics, on my way to Marseille for Lift France 2011, immediately echoed with my own feelings. What he expresses here, was actually a footnote but I found it quite important to highlight an interesting phenomenon. This footnote was related to a part of the book intro in which Mark Shepard describes that the underlying logic of "smart cities" can sometimes be limited to functionalist views such as "a searchable city with an easily accessible shopping cart". More specifically, this quote echoes with my feeling when using various mobile services/apps (public transport, restaurant review, location-based signage, augmented reality...).