Orit Halpern / Robert Mitchell: RETHINKING SMARTNESS

Becoming a “smart city”

Like many metropolitan centers around the world, Berlin aspires to be a “smart city.” Making a city smart usually involves constructing a dense net of sensors, often embedded in and around more traditional infrastructures throughout the urban environment, such as transportation systems, electrical grids, and water systems. The process also requires the city to solicit the distributed input of its inhabitants through active technological means, such as smart phone apps. Finally, the city employs high-end computing and learning algorithms to analyze the resulting data, with the goal of optimizing urban technical, social, and political processes. Yet, perhaps counter-intuitively, a smart city is not synonymous with a utopian—or even a specific—form of the city, which would then remain stable for the foreseeable future. In this sense, the smart city is quite unlike utopian cities as they were imagined in the past, when it was presumed that a specific form—such as Le Corbusier’s “Radiant City” or the concentric circles of Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities—would enable a specific goal, such as integration of humans into natural processes, or economic growth, or an increase in collective happiness, or democratic political participation. Rather, a city is “smart” when it achieves the capacity to adjust to any new and unexpected threats and possibilities that may emerge from the city’s ecological, political, social, and economic environments (a capacity that is generally referred to in planning documents with the term “resilience”). In short, a smart city is a site of perpetual learning, and a city is smart when it achieves the capacity to engage in perpetual learning. „Orit Halpern / Robert Mitchell: RETHINKING SMARTNESS“ weiterlesen


Zwei Herren stritten sich jüngst gepflegt. Meister ihres Fachs (der Romanistik) alle beide, ging es einmal mehr um Herkunft und Zukunft der Geistes- und vor allem der Literaturwissenschaften. Den Aufschlag machte Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht in der NZZ vom 29. Oktober 2019. Der Bestandsaufnahme (sinkende Hörerzahlen, falsch verstandene Professionalisierung und moralisch überformte politische Korrektheit) folgte die Geschichtslektion: Die große Zeit der Geisteswissenschaften lag in dem Jahrhundert zwischen Romantik und Erstem Weltkrieg. Danach ging es etappenweise bergab, mit verzweifelter, auch vor schlimmsten Ideologien nicht Halt machender Anbiederung an die sogenannte Öffentlichkeit; aber auch Rückzug in den Elfenbeinturm und zunehmende Verwissenschaftlichung trugen zur Selbstzerstörung der Geisteswissenschaften bei. „Eva Geulen: ALTES UND NEUES AUS DEN LITERATURWISSENSCHAFTEN“ weiterlesen


The Aesthetics of Resistance. Already the title demands interpretation. Depending on whether the preposition ‘of’ is interpreted as a subjective or as an objective genitive, it could refer either to ‘the aesthetic position upheld by those fighting for the resistance’ or to ‘the aesthetic aspect of resistance as such.’ As one might expect, Peter Weiss’s novel supports both readings, insofar as it concerns a group of resistance fighters who conceive of art—whether ancient, aristocratic, bourgeois, or proletarian—as closely related to their own political activity: “If we want to take on art, literature, we have to treat them against the grain, that is, we have to eliminate all the concomitant privileges and project our own demands into them.”[1] The aesthetic position of those fighting in the resistance is that art is eminently political. But the first person plural is misleading, and introduces an additional ambiguity concerning the novel’s message: does “we” stand for the unnamed narrator and his comrades in the 1930’s, for Weiss’s milieu in the 1970s, or for the international readership of the perpetually advancing present? „Ross Shields: READING THE AESTHETICS OF RESISTANCE“ weiterlesen