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Who is in control? Prescriptive vs Holistic civic technologies
May 08, 2013 Avner S

The Canadian physicist and author Ursula Franklin talked about prescriptive and holistic technologies in her Massey Lectures (The Real World of Technology). The difference between the two can be seen as a question of who the technology empowers, those at the top or those at the bottom. See wikipedia for a more nuanced description (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_Franklin#Holistic_and_prescriptive_technologies).

There's quite a bit of excitement about technologically empowered cities, but I don't feel like I've seen this particular point addressed. Are cities creating tools that help them control their citizens, or are they creating tools that empower them? (Obviously this isn't cut and dry/black and white.) Additionally, how well is that empowerment distributed throughout the city's population? Is it only accessible to those with smartphones and broadband?

I'm not entirely sure how to turn this into a project proposal, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately.


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