➔ Animal infrastructures — “The growing temptation will be to turn to engineered animals, rather than to existing equipment or inanimate machines, to perform future urban work for us.”
➔ Smart cities ‘will destroy democracy’ — “As the tech companies bid for contracts, Haque observed, the real target of their advertising is clear: “The people it really speaks to are the city managers who can say, ‘It wasn’t me who made the decision, it was the data.’””
➔ Mackenzie Wark on Keller Easterling’s new book on infrastructure, ‘Extrastatecraft’ — “Infrastructure is how power deploys itself, and it does so much faster than law or democracy.”
➔ Courtney Humphries, “The city is an ecosystem, pipes and all” — “Cities may strike us as the opposite of “the environment”: As we pave streets and erect buildings, nature comes to feel like the thing you find somewhere else. But scientists working in the growing field of urban ecology argue that we’re missing something. A city’s soil collects pollutants, but it also supports a vast system of microscopic life. Water courses beneath roads and buildings, often in long-buried streams and constructed pipes. And city ecosystems aren’t static; they change over time as populations grow, infrastructure ages, and different political structures and social values shape them. Seen this way, the city is a distinct form of “environment,” and an important one.”
➔ Options for the East West Connection — NZTAs proposals for linking the Southern and Southwestern motorways through the Mangere Inlet area. Options E and F are particularly grievous: completely severing any possibility of connection to the water along the northern edge of the Inlet, and ignoring current uses.
➔ New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, 1970 — Designed by Massimo Vignelli for Unimark International. Graphic standards unify the infrastructure as a single system in the experience of its users.
COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS IS A TECHNICAL PROCESS IN THE GUISE OF ANALYSIS.
The problem with Cost/Benefit analysis is that it requires you to convert all the costs, and all the benefits, to the same currency. That means you must know, with imperial confidence, the cost in dollars of such things as:
- each minute of each customer’s time
- a particular ecosystem to be destroyed or preserved, which may involve various degrees of endangerment (of species, and of ecosystem types)
- historic or cultural resources to be destroyed or relocated, or preserved.
Assigning dollar values to some of these things is ridiculous, and we should reject the idea that dollar value provides any kind of common denominator for valuation. Cost-benefit analysis is a simplistic model that gives only an impression of rigour and fairness.
Should communities talk about how to weigh competing values that are in conflict? Or should they let those decisions be made inside a technical process in the guise of analysis?