|Public Blue Screens of Death Remind Us That Life Is a Farce|
This was, actually, the main proposition of the great article, Yesterday’s tomorrows: notes on ubiquitous computing’s, published in 2006 by Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish. In this essay, the authors showed the preponderance of the use of the future tense in the proposals of ubiquitous computing and make the case to place the focus of ubiquitous computing into present complexities. The promises of urban computing and how its developments were imagined finally varied and embodied into urban spaces very differently from those visions. Given the distance between the imagined future and the present, we need to understand why the ideals of ubiquitous computing (in our case, the smart city) are always presented as the near future. So, this foreseen future may not reach anyway and is permanently postponed, or, on the contrary, it always comes to reality, but taking shape in different forms to those initially envisioned.
Clearly, the future of the connected city will take new forms in the coming decades, but this can not prevent us from understanding what is already happening and taking unexpected and derived forms not covered by the generic description of the smart city yet to arise. In fact, the breakthroughs of the broad field of digital technologies and their intersection with urban life are already configuring our everyday experiences, our infrastructures, our social understanding of privacy, etc., and this is taking place without the need to wait for others to build the (smart) city of the future. The more time we dedicate to think these changes as a proximate future, the more time we are wasting to understand its consequences and how alternative uses of current technologies and social practices are transforming nowadays cities.