Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Post-Autopia as a Dystopian Digital Nexus?

A new paper of mine titled 'Post-Autopia as a Dystopian Digital Nexus?' is soon to be published in an Italian sociology journal called lo Squaderno (under Creative Commons license). A brief summary:

The days of the automobile being the gateway to ‘unfettered’ freedoms and spontaneous ‘get away’ are surely numbered. This concept of the car is likely to be no longer sustainable in dense urban regions given the increase in car users, and the foreseeable increase in road congestion problems in city areas and privatised routes. The sheer complexity of integrated issues, from individual user rights, individualised pricing schemes, car security, identity validation, etc, will require complex systems of informational databases and coded spaces. I foresee a post-autopia that necessitates a move into datastructures as a dominant form of social-sorting within which automobility will be negotiated and ‘permitted’.

This scenario of increased technological interdependency will be a rational and logical outcome from an ongoing development in increased informational processes that are required to control and organize these flows, both efficiently and profitably (Beniger, 1986). The potential emergence of a post-autopia digital nexus may turn out to be ‘not a deliberate form of oppressive control but an institutional - bureaucratic obsession with function, with the smooth flow of goods and services, and with efficiencies of movement and transactional fluidity’ (Wood and Graham, 2006: 182). In other words, post-autopia will require its own digitalisation as a means of mediating its own organisational principle.

 I have included the full paper as a pdf download in the Writings (box.net) widget at the rhs of this blog... for those who are interested in reading more about the rise of surveillance and databases in relation to car movement and mobility.


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