Restoring urban spaces in the age of hyper connectivity

In this age of hyper connectivity created by the Internet, computers and smart phones, how can we “remanufacture” the city and adapt the spaces in a practical way, instead of taking refuge in a “digital city” and isolated social space?

In a new paper, which was officially launched in June, Guillaume Ethea, a professor in the Department of Urban and Tourism Studies at the University of Quebec (UQAM) in Montreal, envisioned an “analog city”, meaning a “small utopia” that is essentially the opposite of digital error.

“Things are changing in terms of sociality and public space. He explains, in particular, that there has been a shift from concrete space to digital. The idea is to take note of this passage and imagine a city that will try to reconsider its role based on this new situation. A

Duty He was met at the Saint-Viateur rue in Montreal. A place that, according to him, has a number of qualities that can become an interesting trade route with life

There are lots of street cafes, bookstores, restaurants and color shops and, here and there, pedestrians can sit. The professor pointed to a place just outside the path, where two benches surrounded by low walls and trees were placed next to a small specialty grocery store.

“It’s good to have intimacy, little space for bubbles,” he said. He appreciates slowness, in a world that tends more towards speed and immediate responsiveness. “This allows the city to have another allocation and stop the flow,” he added.

The opposite would be “very ordinary” places, “slippery” “non-places”, such as airports, large shopping malls, supermarkets or coffee chains like Starbucks. A place without cultural density and where people are in change.

“It’s a place where you know you’re going to have the same experience wherever you are in the world,” said the researcher, referring to Starbucks coffee, which he sees as a product of the age. Digital and that changes the way cities like Airbnb or Uber occupy. “Inside, there are workers LaptopThose who do 1,000 jobs and those who are connected to the same equipment, ”he added.

The professor says that in modern cities there are fewer and fewer offers to entice people to spend time offline in urban places.

He thus appreciates the fluid places full of vitality, where people can meet while disconnected from the internet and social networks. “There are some things that are not online. We see it with the Metaverse project, it’s so crude compared to the resources of outside behavior, ”he underlined.

Things are changing in terms of sociality and public space. In particular, the concrete space is changing from digital to digital.

A little further on, Mary, who lives on the street next to St. Viechar, has a paintbrush in her hand and is busy with the other two, to shape a large mural in an alley on which we see a waterway, plants and animals. “I wanted to imagine what the landscape was like before construction, and what it would be like if we allowed more biodiversity in the urban environment,” he explained. A few pedestrians stop to observe.

“You have to walk a little slower and be in meditative mode to realize that these things exist, says Guillaume Ethere. Because otherwise plugged in somewhere else or in a life where we only get from point A to point B, they will go unnoticed.”

In praise of imperfection

Cities must guess and celebrate a part of the imperfection. The Smart City ideal, which seeks to be efficient at any cost and is super-equipped with sensors and cameras that track citizens, does not impress researchers. He sees it as “an upper-middle-class norm” that sees urban life as “something messy, domesticated” and that seeks to normalize behavior.

The field of potential for the Mile End, which describes itself as a place that “reinvents the use of abandoned brownfields”, well presents the kind of “ceremonial” and experimental space that emerges from this perspective and is essential for a city. “The rules are a little different, you can isolate yourself and stay out of sight,” says Guillaume Ithier.

Here and there, Walker sees art work on abandoned fire rings and wooden posts that connect to electrical wires or fences that prevent access to railroads. Dirty trails cross tree grooves and long combs of wild grass. Plus, a group of ten-year-olds are playing and learning with the help of animators.

“When this kind of place disappears, you go to the basement and play video games. Or you go to the park, more boring and smooth, but something is missing, ”he says.

Researchers are currently collaborating with the city of Montreal to develop the city’s next city plan. He chose about twenty public spaces, including areas of possibility, with his university colleagues. “We try to see what we can learn from these places and understand how users use the place and make it fit. And here, it’s a place we’ve noticed to show the need for informality in the city, ”he explains.

And with the failure of debate on social networks and the camps of people who are “represented” behind their scenes and in their strong opinions, professors also dream of open discussion venues in cities.

“There are public spaces, which are now global, and we have intimate private spaces, where we talk to each other. But there doesn’t seem to be much between the two and there is a possibility of meeting people differently in other circles, ”he argued.

He doesn’t know what it might look like, but he envisions a discussion forum in a public place to meet people from different backgrounds, like a kind of agora. Somewhat like an American company People’s SupperWhich organizes meals in communities for interaction between people from different backgrounds.

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