Short description to circulate during MozFest 2019
Cities, things and people are inseparable. From primitive settlements around natural resources, through guilds of skilled artisans along castle walls in the middle ages, then on to becoming the very site and battleground of the industrial revolutions, cities are made of people who make things and use them. One may be tempted to see such a setting as the ultimate maker space—the perfect complex multi-layered machine that mobilizes social capital to extract and transform matter, generating value and distributing it. Only that is not the whole truth. The intense urbanization of last centuries is leaving an unmistakable trail of unsolved issues. From the exhaustion of natural resources to extreme inequality and loss of social bonds. And perhaps even more explicitly, a trail of things. It is easy to dismiss the impact of humanity’s extraordinary ability to generate waste. A society keen on industrialization as the only way forward may see waste as an understandable externality. A side effect of economic growth, perhaps welcome in a bizarre way. That perspective is not only wrong but fundamentally toxic, and not only in a figurative sense. How can we design our way out of it? In this context, what role could an internet of all things play if it was built around the collective stewardship of objects, a commons of material resources? Can we think and develop cities that make, repair and repurpose matter in sustainable, inclusive and regenerative ways?