StadsSalonsUrbains 2019/20 lecture series Platform Urbanism: Data Commons, Citizen Contestation and the Governance of Cities
Geographers have long been interested in the spaces brought into being by the internet. In the early days of the Web, digital technologies were seen as tools that could bring a heterotopic cyberspace into being: a place beyond space de-tethered from the material world. More recent framings instead see digital geographies as always-augmented, hybrid, and ontogenetic: integrally embedded into everyday life. Against that backdrop, the talk presents findings from three large research projects about digital platforms. First, a large-scale digital mapping project that looks at how digital inequalities can become infused into our urban landscapes. Second, a study about the livelihoods of platform workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, early results from a new action research project (the Fairwork Foundation) designed to improve the quality of platform jobs. In each case, the talk explores why understanding the ways that platforms command digital geographies is a crucial prerequisite for envisioning more equitable digital futures.