Excerpts from my Career Development Plan, written during my first days in Dundee.
Networked technologies are becoming ubiquitous in human dwellings of all scales and development phases. On the one hand authorities are increasingly incorporating information technologies in an attempt to increase efficiency of public administration. On the other hand, citizens can leverage their will to participate by using digital communication tools. These two perspectives of authorities and citizens may even work in harmony but often will be conflicting. The mainstream narrative associated with smart cities tends to champion the former and silence the latter. With my research I wish to help counterbalance this situation, by exploring some paths:
- Understand how smart a city can be by polarizing the concept. What is the opposite of a smart city? Can populations collective shape a smart city whose focus is not only to improve efficiency of existing services but also point towards cities that are sustainable, inclusive and fair?
- Bring into consideration how smart city strategies are being planned and deployed in contexts different from the post-industrial western city - be it in semi-developed, neo-rural, war-torn or ruined cities. In such cases, is the local population taking part in the shaping and decision-making about IT infrastructure, devices and data?
- Expand the focus of IoT to include not only connected devices but possibly all sorts of material flows in a city. Raw materials, leftovers from industrial processes, discarded objects, waste. Can a smart city enable local agents to make the most out of scarce materials? What sort of infrastructure and facilities are needed for that - public fabrication/transformation services, object sharing platforms, community making learning centres? Does the materiality of a smart city relate to issues of circular economy?
- Can a cooperative approach foster the creation of public services that at the same time are more adaptable than state-run ones and more fair than utilities explored by for-profit corporations? Does the smart city have anything to add to platform cooperativism?
To fulfill my research objectives, I will need to improve skills in some specific areas: -Ethnography, design research methods - formal research processes, evidence-based participatory constructions. How to understand the needs or desires of a group of people, and to show how choices are grounded on that.
- English / academic writing skills. I need to improve my writing in English. -Making/reuse/digital fabrication. While I have been working with makers for over a decade, my instrumental knowledge of fabrication technologies is relatively small.
- Documenting and archiving the findings of design research both for reference, dissemination and building trust.
I will be looking for opportunities to get familiarized with fields related to my topic of research, such as urban development and city planning.
I am already reconnecting with networks I’ve been part of in the past, as well as researchers, activists and curators with common interests. I may be interfacing with many networks, and see potential collaboration with a number of festivals and conferences both in Europe and other continents. There are also Mozfest and Thingscon as well as other branches of Mozilla activities, to which I am new and willing to take part.
On the other hand, I will keep connected to Brazilian and Latin American networks, which will be important as I plan to return some day. I am a member of research groups on related subjects in Brazil, and will be looking for possible interactions with relevant activities, publications or events there.
I will be looking for communities and nonprofits organisations working on fields relevant to my research, and hopefully find ways to collaborate with them. Additionally, I believe the OpenDoTT cohort could have an online presence, if nothing else at least to share research references with the world. Perhaps a collective blog will be useful at some point.