Designer, Theorist & Strategist / Studio Yin Aiwen
Yin Aiwen is a practicing designer and design theorist, whose work examines the social impact of planetary communication technologies, with special focus on social alienation and cultural colonialism. Working with theory, speculative system and time-based art, she advocates relationship-focused design as a mean to redesign, re-engineer and reimagine technology and society.
Urbanizing the digital: Call for actions
thursDAY, JUNE 13 | 3:00 PM — 4:00 PM
Activists implore users to be mindful in their everyday encounter with the digital and to practice privacy in an almost ritualistic way. Protest becomes a zero-sum game between accepting terms of service or deleting accounts. It is a futile attempt to get to the bottom of the code and terms of services, or to condemn one software after another. The only thing we have left to do is to threaten to leave. But when the digital becomes the everyday infrastructure, these actions trade our right to live socially for the hope that we can preserve our right to privacy.
We need urbanism in the digital. Not the top-down urban planning that is practiced by a handful of people, but the thinking tool that approaches cyberspace with an integral view of public and private lives, their flows and exchanges, and their progressions as a whole. Cyber-urbanism is the mindset that a design has to be ready for a common mass and for a long-term progression. It is beyond the private interests of the present moment – it encompasses the sense of the responsibility to subsume social conflict and reduce crime, which sees to the life and death of a network of human and non-human actors.
Cyber-urbanism aims to enable people to voice their distress even if they don’t have the vocabulary to do so. It asks for the discussions to take place in more visual, more engaging, more accessible ways, and provides impactful tools for proposals that express the concerns of a multifarious mass, address solidarity in the digital and institutionalize users’ rights.
Cyber-urbanism implies reclaiming the common in cyberspace: not only in the sense that there is a need for social spaces that are not owned by private corporations, but also that the design of those spaces has to be thought through the relationships among the users, the common good, the multifaceted urban life that one can maneuver with. It must aim to liberate the users from an alienated position, and empower them for unions.
Cyber-urbanism is (if ever) not only about implementing urbanism-thinking into the digital, but it also poses fundamental questions to architects and urbanists: what is space when no dimension can be measured, what is a body when it vanishes into pixels, what is city when no tangible material exists? No matter if it is urbanism or cyber-urbanism, these are systems we have made to measure our relationship with our surroundings, with the non-human, and with each other. Can urbanism become a thinking tool that transcends the material forms?