Digital Commons, Urban Struggles and the Right to the City?
Who has access? Who designs? Who uses and who profits of collaboratively produced content?
In this talk, we want to argue that these questions are not only equally relevant to the physical as well as the digital space, but increasingly interdependent. This is powerfully exemplified in many prevailing smart city visions, in which highly profitable dreams of streamlining, control and efficiency are being cultivated – predominantly by a handful of global enterprises.
Within the European MAZI-Network, we are querying alternatives to these corporate, top-down implemented and centralized futures. We seek to support and amplify these alternatives and we work on the development of counter-proposals, by connecting academia with urban activism in four different pilot studies across Europe.
In Berlin, the Design Research Lab of the University of the Arts is partnering with the Nachbarschaftsakademie (Neighborhood Academy) within Prinzessinnengärten: At Berlin‘s Moritzplatz, we are testing how affordable and open hardware together with open source knowledge can act as a toolkit, enabling local communities to create their very own “internet outside the internet”, and to employ network technology beyond the prescribed application of Facebook or Google.
To learn from practice, we are developing a locally constrained, community owned and maintained WIFI network with a set of custom designed applications. With this, we aim at providing a network for exchange, information and participation, and ultimately at the amplification of Berlin‘s critical urban practice through technology.
By applying the Neighborhood Academy‘s core concept of “collective learning”, this process is decisively participatory and involves a wide range of actors and initiatives that are engaged in the struggles for the right to the city – both in spatial and in digital terms.
With this, we go beyond the mere development of technology and open up spaces for discussion on the interdependencies of Digital Commons, Urban Struggles and the Right to the City.