[ISEA2011] Panel: Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen & Søren Pold – The Kind of Prob­lem a Soft­ware City Is

Panel Statement

Panel: The Art of Software Cities

The final chap­ter in Jane Ja­cobs’ The Death and Life of Great Amer­i­can Cities from 1961 is en­ti­tled “The Kind of Prob­lem a City Is.”  Ja­cobs ac­counts for the re­la­tions be­tween urban de­vel­op­ment strate­gies and the pro­gres­sion of sci­ence. Through sta­tis­ti­cal ma­te­r­ial, sci­ence in the 20th cen­tury be­came ca­pa­ble of man­ag­ing cities as com­lex or­gan­isms. Un­for­tunal­tely, urban plan­ners at the time did not know much about the ac­tual in­ter­ac­tions mak­ing up the or­gan­ism. Ja­cobs stresses that urban plan­ners need to think in processes that ex­plains the gen­eral by the spe­cific rather than in sta­tis­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion that op­presses both the process and the spe­cific. Today, dig­i­tal media changes the cityscape with media fa­cades, urban screens, mo­bile screens, com­puter gen­er­ated ar­chi­tec­tural forms and so on. How­ever it is not only media that is in­tro­duced to the city but also soft­ware. A dis­tinct char­ac­ter­is­tic for soft­ware cities is that the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of media are al­ways con­nected to un­der­ly­ing com­pu­ta­tional processes that change the com­plex life forms of the city. Un­der­stand­ing soft­ware cities we must com­pare the city with the soft­ware at a spe­cific level. The pre­sen­ta­tion will seek to do this by in­clud­ing the ar­chi­tect Christo­pher Alexan­der’s idea of a ‘pat­tern lan­guage’ (that has been much more in­flu­en­tial in soft­ware de­sign than in ar­chi­tec­ture) and argue that we must look be­yond the form and spec­ta­cles soft­ware im­poses and begin to pay at­ten­tion to the ac­tiv­ity it fos­ters. The pre­sen­ta­tion will pre­sent a view on the pat­terns of soft­ware cities and fur­ther­more re­flect on the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of soft­ware cities as a pub­lic do­main. In what ways does soft­ware in cities re­sponds to our life?

  • Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen is as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor and chair of Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics Re­search Cen­tre, Aarhus Uni­ver­sity, Den­mark . He re­searchers within dig­i­tal aes­thet­ics, soft­ware cities and com­puter games. To­gether with Søren Pold he is the ed­i­tor of a new book: “In­ter­face Crit­i­cism – Aes­thet­ics Be­yond the But­tons”. He is also a re­searcher in Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Urban Liv­ing, Aarhus Uni­ver­sit.
  • Søren Bro Pold is Ph.D, As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor of dig­i­tal aes­thet­ics at IMV, Uni­ver­sity of Aarhus, Den­mark, part of DUL  and found­ing mem­ber of DARC (Dig­i­tal Aes­thet­ics Re­search Cen­ter. He has pub­lished in Dan­ish and Eng­lish on dig­i­tal and media aes­thet­ics – from the 19th c. panorama to the in­ter­face, e.g. on elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture, net art, soft­ware art, cre­ative soft­ware, urban in­ter­faces and dig­i­tal cul­ture. To­gether with Chris­t­ian Ulrik An­der­sen he edited the an­thol­ogy “In­ter­face Crit­i­cism – Aes­thet­ics Be­yond the But­tons” (2011).  darc.imv.au.dk   digitalurbanliving.dk

Full text (PDF) p. 80-85