Circular cities

Image retrieved here

Article discusses the efforts of Prof. Williams in UCL in promoting the ideas and practices of the Circular City by establishing UCL’s Circular Cities Hub in 2016.
A book is to be expected in 2020 entitled “Circular Cities: A Revolution in Urban Sustainability” by Williams that will be published by Routledge.

Part of this has involved viewing cities holistically. This means not just looking at resources, but seeing urban areas as organisms that constantly adapt to changes, such as migration and increasing diversity, as well as considering different trajectories of development, from shrinking, post-industrial cities such as Detroit, to places like London, where corporate and foreign investment is squeezing out lower-value, circular activities.

Islais Project by One Architecture


(One Architecture in collaboration with BIG Group and Sherwood)

Islais Creek is an historic watershed in Southeast San Francisco. This is an historically industrial area once home to a verdant, marshy watershed since channelized and home to heavy industry and logistics which support the entire city of San Francisco.

By densifying existing industrial and logistical activities, softening shorelines and daylighting a section of the creek currently decked over, the BIG + ONE + Sherwood team sought to reorient the city’s relationship to its historic waterfronts as a vital element in its recreational and industrial economy.

The six pilots arrived at by the design team respond to these concerns and more, proposing the creation of accessible open space with integrated green-blue infrastructure, a food district, vastly improved transportation systems, waterfront access, waste processing, stacked and decked residential and commercial space, and other phaseable short-term solutions to climate and urban risks.


Ubiquitous commons

This has made me think of xAPI  and Learning Record Stores. And then, right at the end of the page, I bump into the concept of community yet again (!). I read:

Ubiquitous Commons allows for attributing citizens control over the data which they produce, and also to generate shared, meaningful patterns of perceived sensibility and responsibility, by enabling novel reflections in terms of identity, relation and belonging.

These can be used to foster new practices in which a new concept of digital public space emerges, which is accessible and inclusive, and also respectful of people’s right to self-determination and self-representation and, thus, to be able to more freely express our subjectivities, as individuals and as participants to multiple relational networksculturesbelief systemsFrom consensus to co-existence.

Ubiquitous Commons is the commons in the age of Ubiquitous Technologies.

Ubiquitous Commons is a legal-technological protocol: it positions itself among the other technological protocols which operate at the level of networks and technologies and among their legal implications and the set of laws, regulations, standards and norms which regulate them. Ubiquitous Commons is an open protocol.


In the Ubiquitous Commons environment, users can define a series of identities, which they hold and manage in what we have defined as their identity pool; each identity corresponds to a digital certificate, composed by a private and public key; identities can be of different types: individual/ collective/ anonymous/ temporary/ nomadic/ or a combination of the above.

Whenever a certain user generates data, this data is encrypted; the encrypted data is coupled with an attribution, stating which Ubiquitous Commons identity generated it (from), and which Ubiquitous Commons identities can access the data (to); this attribution is generated by the “from” identity; the encrypted data goes on to the service or application for which it was generated for; the attribution goes on to a peer-to-peer network or infrastructure –currently the BlockChain – in which the identifiers of the content (data) and of the from-to identities are published; in this way, the user can grant the availability and access to this data to the specified identities, determined autonomously.

A user who desires access to the data, executes a query onto the peer-to-peer infrastructure, asking whether data identifier X has been granted access to the user’s Ubiquitous Commons identity (the “to” identity in the attribution, picked from one of the identities in the accessing user’s identity pool) by the generating user (the “from” identity); if the user turns out to be attributed with the possibility to access (the query returns a positive result), the user obtains the decryption mechanism (recomposing the private key necessary to decrypting the data); the user uses the decryption mechanism to decrypt and access the data; the transaction is logged onto the peer-to-peer network.


Excerpts and Image from Ubiquitous Commons Website

Three generations of Infoscapes

art is open source

infoscape: the virtual landscape of information

First Infoscape refers to the information and knowledge generated through the modalities of the pre-industrial city.

Second Infoscape refers to the information and knowledge generated in the industrial city (the second generation city, the city of infrastructures, transactions, sensors…)

The Third Infoscape refers to the information generated through the myriads of micro-histories, through the progressive, emergent and polyphonic sedimentation of the expressions of the daily lives of city dwellers (…) Casagrande uses the concept of the ruin to define the Third Generation City as the «ruin of the industrial city» and as the «industrial city ruined by people – human nature as part of nature.» (…) Uniting all of its elements, Human Ecology transforms the Third Infoscape into a commons, making it accessible, usable and performable, and opening up to the second stage of the working hypothesis, dedicated to creating a transparent, clear, trusted, high-quality relational environment dedicated to co-managing this novel form of public space.

The Third Landscape is the part of the natural environment that grows in-between bricks and stones, it is the grass that lives between train tracks, it is the natural space that finds its life in the cracks of the walls, or in the places of our cities to which we don’t pay much attentionIt is the natural space of our cities which has not yet been encoded. It is not found in the flowerbeds and hedges which our city administrations define through borders and limits: please keep off the grass, this is a bureaucratically instituted flowerbed.

Excerpts from Data and the city by Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, published in Hybrid City 2015 Conference Proceedings. Quote taken from their Art is Open Source website 

Image available here

Networked Learning


The network is a network of people: networked learning aims to understand social learning processes by asking how people develop and maintain a ‘web’ of social relations used for their learning and development (de Laat)

Networked learning does not necessarily involve ICT, though in specific cases it may make use of technology. What makes learning networked is the connection to and engagement with other people across different social positions inside and outside of a given institution.  The network is supportive of a person’s learning through the access it provides to other people’s ideas and ways of participating in practice as well as of course through the opportunity to discuss these ideas and ways of participating and to potentially develop nuanced, common perspectives (Carvalho and Goodyear)

Networked learning may utilize ICT but it might me also supported by other means such as physical artefacts or artistic stimulation of senses and feelings while connections may also be drawn spontaneously by the learners themselves (Bober & Hynes)

The network is a network of situations or contexts: connections between the diverse contexts in which the learners participate as significant for understanding learning beyond online learning spaces, and, indeed, within them as well. This is the sense in which the network, under-stood as a network of situations, supports learning: by offering tacit knowledge, perspectives and ways of acting from known situations for re-situated use in new ones. Networked Learning’ on this under-standing is the learning arising from the connections drawn between situations and from the resituated use in new situations of knowledge, perspectives and ways of acting from known ones (Dohn)

The ‘network’ is one of ICT infrastructure, enabling connections across space and time: The support for learning provided by the network is one of infrastructure, i.e. the ease of saving, transporting and retrieving content for future use. Learning, it would seem, will be ‘networked’ whenever it is ICT-mediated, by that very fact; perhaps with the proviso that the situations of learning should indeed be separated in space and/or time so that the infrastructure (the ‘network’) is actually brought into play. This proviso would differentiate the field of networked learning somewhat from the field of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), where many studies concern ICT-facilitated group work between physically co-located students. The re-search field of Networked Learning is characterized, not only by focusing on ‘networks’, but also by taking a certain approach to learning, focusing critically on aspects of democratization and empowerment (Czerniewicz and Lee)

The ‘network’ is one of actants: consisting of both human and non-human agents in symmetrical relationship to each other. It is a systemic approach to learning, where individual learners’ interaction and learning may be analyzed as a result of socio-material entanglement with objects and other people. The network supports learning in the sense that any learning is in fact the result of concrete socio-material entanglement of physical, virtual, and human actants (Wright and Parchoma; Jones)



Bonderup Dohn, N., Sime, J-A., Cranmer, S., Ryberg, T., & de Laat, M. (2018). Reflections and challenges in Networked Learning. In N. Bonderup Dohn, S. Cranmer, J-A. Sime, M. de Laat, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), Networked Learning – reflections and challenges (pp. 187-212). Switzerland: Springer. Research in Networked Learning,

Image available here

Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Grudin



1984: twenty people from MIT and Paul Cashman of Digital Equipment Corporation organized a workshop to explore technology’s role in the work environment. they used the term CSCW to describe their findings

Office Automation, an earlier approach to group support, had ran out of steam. The problems were not just technical but understanding human requirements. OA practitioners needed more info on how people worked in groups.

CSCW: it started as an effort by technologists to learn from economists, social psychologists, anthropologists, org theorists, educators etc/ it became a place for system builders to share experiences and tell others about tech constraints through tele-videoconferencing, collaborative authorship applications, electronic mail.

CSCW draws from all rings and from preexisting development culture. There is however, a great interest in small groups applications. Product developers focus more on human-computer interface/ Organizational system developers fixate on functionality.

The greatest challenge of CSCW is being multidisciplinary: it represents a merging of issues, approaches, languages, making sense is a lively process. It can be frustrating when the others are ignorant of work one considers to be basic. Participants from different domains use the same terms in subtly different ways.


References + Image

Grudin, J., 1994. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: History and Focus. In Journal Computer, Volume 27 Issue 5, May 1994, Page 19-26, available here

Coping with the monsters of technology


The explanation runs as follows. Technological innovation is a rich source of new phenomena. These phenomena have to be appropriated to make them fit into our lives and practices. The appropriation process has various aspects, because new technology has to fit into diverse existing orders: social, technical, organizational and others. During the appropriation process both technology and existing social and technical orders are mutually adapted, as a central insight of Science and Technology Studies (STS) tells us. However, new technology also has to be attuned to cultural order, since our perception of technology is mediated by our cultural categories and contemporary myths regarding nature and what it is to be human. Domestication of new technology is a process in which cultural imagination and technological change are intertwined. (Smits: 499)

Smits detects four types of approaches:

  • exorcism: it demonizes the monsterns and hence expels them from engineering education
  • adaption: it reduces the monsters to rational problems
  • embracement: when we fully accept the monsters as part of reality and are
  • assimilation: portrays the technological monsters in their cultural context and in that way reveals the opposite as uniting rather than absolute (only in MODE 3 knowledge)



Smits, M., Taming monsters: The cultural domestication of new technology. In Technology in Society 28 (2006) 489–504

Borsen, T., Botin, L., 2013. Hybridity and Social responsibility. In Proceedings from the 41st SEFI Conference, 16-20 September 2013, Leuven, Belgium

Image available here