Inleiding

In het najaar van 2013 deed City Mine(d) samen met de Universiteit Gent in opdracht van het Kenniscentrum voor Vlaamse Steden (KCVS) een voor-onderzoek naar Stedelijke Coalities. Het onderzoek kaderde in een bredere studie waarmee het Kenniscentrum inzichten probeerde te krijgen in stedelijke transitie en transformatie. Transitie gaat volgens het KCVS over “diepgaande wijzigingen in de systemen die de maatschappelijke ontwikkeling beheersen, zoals het energiesysteem, het mobiliteits-systeem, het voedselsysteem, het systeem rond wonen en bouwen, etc.” Het doel van de voor-studie was een licht werpen op de “verschillende maatschappelijke actoren die samen concrete maatschappelijke vraagstukken aanpakken”. City Mine(d), dat…

1. STATIC

The first type of electricity subjected to study was of a static nature. It is the type Thales of Miletus talks about, and scientists of the 17th century used to entertain salons. After a glass rod was rubbed with silk cloth, it could attract feathers and lift them off the table. The Mayor of the German Town of Magdenburg Otto von Guericke, already famed for his study of the vacuum by performing the Magdeburg hemispheres experiment, made the first attempt to build a machine that could produce static electricity, the sulphur globe. …

Nature has revealed its secret forces very slowly. First fire, then water, only recently electricity. Fire could be used for warmth, to see in the dark, and to cook food. With water thirst can be quenched, and dirt can be washed off, but it can also make wheels turn and store energy for later use. Fire and water were already being used for centuries, if not millennia, when humans started to ask the notorious question “how”: how does heat consume its fuel, how does water make a wheel turn.

Gilbert demonstrating electricity before queen Elizabeth (by A. Hunt)

The story of electricity runs in a different direction. It is…

Over the summer of 2018, City Mine(d) was invited to work in Rio de Janeiro, second city of Brazil and sixth largest of the Americas. Overwhelmed by the experience, and urged on by this coming Sunday’s elections, we are attempting to put our impressions to paper. Here part I that grapples with the context.

PART I:

On 14 March 2018, in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte, a silver coloured car levelled up with a white one with blacked out windows. The silver one had been following the other since its departure in Lapa 30 minutes before. From that same car…

My grandfather worked as a forced labourer. At the time, as part of the war effort, Germany was sending all able-bodied nationals to fight at the front, leaving factories and farms without the required workforce. My grandfather and his brother, as sons of farmers and even trained at the regional school of agriculture, were deported to Germany and put to work as farmhands. Though my grandfather kept good relations with his farmer-employer, his brother suffered the darker side of things with lack of food and exploitative working conditions. At rare occasions, they were allowed to return home to visit their…

In 1923 (I will repeat that: nineteen twenty three!) the Green Bay Packers, an American National Football League team, were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Rather than close their doors, they decided to sell shares to the community, a small working class town where most people worked in the meat packing industry. At $5 a share, they managed to raise the necessary $5,000 from the community to carry on. The company was to be not-for-profit, and a limit was put on the number of shares a single person could hold.

Almost a century on, the team still abides by those…

Market place or public space

The IoT

In 1982, a group of students from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania connected a soft drink machine on their campus to the Internet. It allowed them to find out from a distance if drinks were available, and whether they were cold enough. It was the year Commodore International launched its iconic 64 computer, considered one of the most successful early personal computers. Incidentally, Commodore advertised its C64 with the slogan “are you keeping up with Commodore? Because Commodore is keeping up with you.” …

control your data

Three things you often come across these days are “sensors”, “big data” and “computer code”. Even if you will never hear these words, the objects and ideas they refer to are slowly starting to dominate your life.

Sensors have been around the longest. They date back to the pre-electronic age. A glass tube flled with mercury attached to the right scale allows us to measure temperature. Built into a thermostat, the same thermometer in a diferent shape efortlessly takes over decisions about when to switch heating and cooling on and of.

Yet it is not their electronic…

jim

city, economy, sustainability, electricity and future

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