‘Smart Cities’ & Architectural Character

Smart city discourse is increasingly prevalent and increasingly influential, thus, a interrogation into the design philosophy undergirding the concept (and its spin-offs) can prove instructive.

IOT For All defines smart cities (also referred to as intelligent cities or digital cities) as “hubs that route IoT-produced data through public-private partnerships to solve real problems.” Put another way, a smart/intelligent/digital city is a urban human settlement that integrates IoT¹ into its pre-existing infrastructure (of roads, streetlights, etc) so as to increase asset stability (security, maintenance) and general efficiency (of energy, traffic movement, etc).

Thus, what principally distinguishes a smart city from a legacy city, is the amount of information acquisition and processing apparatuses it contains.

To say that these new arrangements are ‘smart’ then, is rather like declaring that sticking more eyes onto a fish makes it smarter — its true, insofar as intelligence is reduced to route data acquisition (which is a rather one-dimensional reconfiguration which neglects a number of obvious aspects of intelligence).

What smart cities have in common with every other type of city is their basic design, which means that they have all the same strengths and weaknesses (in relation to the welfare of their inhabitants) of a conventional city with the added trade-off of mismanagement of the new sensor apparatus (spying, data theft, inability to process data, etc) / swifter data processing via the new apparatus (swifter navigation, better energy utilization, de-incentivization of crime, etc).

What smart city discourse neglects is architectural character — the artistic dimensions of dense urban living; the symbols and structures through which collective desire is channeled and expressed from whose extollation communal ties are bound and reinforced. Architectural character is the continuity between the collective desire of the people and their realization and willful externalization of it, such that it forms the loci by which the people may understand themselves as such.

The reformulation of architectural discourse is a rather pressing issue, as the UN estimates that by 2050, 68% of the world’s total population will live in urban areas (their population projections have come under scrutiny by global demographers for being too inflationary, but even if this is the case, the number of future urban dwellers will certainly swell considerably within the century). As of this writing, urban regions possess the majority of the world’s wealth and account for roughly two-thirds of total global power consumption. Reducing energy consumption, bolstering energy production, utilization and distribution and easing congestion are all important goals, but in the pursuit of these goals, designers should not neglect the artistic and communal qualities which elevate and magnify the dreaming populace and, through explication, crystallize their rattling fervor in the melded folds of concrete and steel.


Notes

  • ¹The internet of things (IoT) is shorthand for the expansion of internet connectivity into mundane objects, allowing for the semi-automation of homes and businesses.

Sources

  1. Ann Bosche et al. (2018) To Grow The Internet Of Things, Improve Security. Forbes.
  2. Elizabeth Woyke. (2018) A Smarter Smart City. MIT Technology Review.
  3. Gene Wes Keat. (1910) From Call Building To Oakland City Hall In 5 Minutes. San Francisco Call, Vol. 107, Number 138, April 17.
  4. Guest Writer. (2019) What Makes a Smart City in 2019. IoT For All.
  5. James Brasuell. (2015) The Early History Of The ‘Smart Cities’ Movement — In 1974 Los Angeles. Planetizen.
  6. Mark Vallianatos. (2015) Uncovering the Early History of “Big Data” and the “Smart City” in Los Angeles. Boom California.
  7. Matt Novak. (2011) Zipping From San Francisco To Oakland In 5 Minutes. Smithsonian.

Synnefocracy_Abstract.2

“I want to tame the winds and keep them on a leash… I want a pack of winds, fleet-footed hounds, to hunt the puffed-up, whiskery clouds.” ‒ F.T. Marinetti.

♦ ♦ ♦

Cartography of the Cloud

 It would be pointless to discuss synnefocracy in any further depth without first defining what The Cloud actually is. Briskly, The Cloud is both a colorful placeholder for a particular modular information arrangement utilizing the internet and a design philosophy. Clouds always use the internet, but are not synonymous with it. The metaphor illustrates informational exchange and storage that is not principally mediated through locally based hardware systems, but rather ones wherein hardware is utilized locally, but accessed remotely. The Cloud is what allows one to begin watching a film on one’s laptop and seamlessly finish watching on one’s tablet. It is what allows one daily access to an email without ever having to consider the maintenance of the hardware upon which the data in the email account is stored. The more independent and modular one’s software becomes from its hardware, the more ‘cloud-like’ that software is. It is not that The Cloud is merely the software, but that the storage size, speed and modularity are all aspects of the system-genre’s seemingly ephemeral nature. Utilization of a computer system rather than a single computer increases efficiency (and thus demands modularity) creating a multi-cascading data slipstream, the full geopolitical effects of which have, up til now, been relatively poorly understood and even more poorly articulated, chronicled and speculated upon, both within popular and academic discourse (and I should add that it is not here my purpose to craft any definitive document upon the topic, but rather to invite a more robust investigation).

Cloud computing architecture offers a number of benefits over traditional computing arrangements, namely in terms of scalability, given that anytime computing power is lacking (for instance, if one had a website that was getting overloaded with traffic), one can simply dip into a accessible cloud and increase one’s server size. Since one never has to actually mess about with any of the physical hardware being utilized to increase computing power, significant time (which would otherwise be spent modulating and setting up servers manually) and money (that would be spent maintaining extra hardware or paying others to maintain it for you) is saved. The fact that one (generally speaking) pays only for the amount of cloud-time one needs for their project also saves money and manpower (in contradistinction to traditional on-premise architecture which would require one to pay for all the hardware necessary, upfront) is another clear benefit.

This combination of speed, durability, flexibility and affordability makes cloud computing a favorite for big businesses and ambitious, tech-savvy startups and, as a consequence, have turned cloud computing itself into a major industry. There are two distinctive types of cloud computing: the deployment model and the service model. In the deployment model there are three sub-categories: public, private and hybrid. The best way of thinking about each model is by conceptualizing vehicular modes of transportation. A bus is accessible to anyone who can pay for the ride; this is analogous to the public cloud wherein you pay only for the resources used and the time spent using them and when one is finished one simply stops paying or, to extend our metaphor, one gets off the bus. Contrarily, a private cloud is akin to a personally owned car, where one pays a large amount of money up-front and must continue paying for the use of the car, however, it is the sole property of the owner who can do with it what he or she will (within the bounds of the law). Lastly, there is the hybrid cloud, which most resembles a taxi, where one wants the private comfort of a personal car, but the low-cost accessibility of a bus.

Some prominent public cloud providers on the market as of this writing include: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM’s Blue Cloud as well as Sun Cloud. Prominent private cloud providers include AWS and VMware.

Cloud service models, when categorized most broadly, break down into three sub-categories: On-premises (Op1), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and, Software as a service (SaaS).

The impact of cloud computing upon sovereignty, particularly, but not exclusively, of states, is scantly remarked upon, but it is significant and is bound up within the paradigm shift towards globalization, however, it is not synonymous with globalization which is frankly, a rather clumsy term, as it does not specify what, precisely, is being globalized (certainly — within certain timescales, to be defined per polity — some things should not be globalized and others should, this requires considerable unpacking and, as a consequence shall not be expounded upon here).

Given that the internet is crucial for national defense (cyber security, diplomatic back-channels, internal coordination, etc) and that the favored computing architecture (presently – due the previously mentioned benefits) is cloud computing, it is only natural that states would begin gravitating towards public and private cloud-based systems and integrating them into their operations. The problem presented by this operational integration is that, due the technical specificity involved in setting up and maintaining such systems, it is cheaper, more convenient and efficient for a given state to hire-out the job to big tech corporations rather than create the architecture themselves and, in many cases, state actors simply do not know how (because most emerging technologies are created through the private sector).

The more cloud-centric a polity, the greater the power of the cloud architects and managers therein. This is due to several factors, the first and most obvious of which is simply that any sovereign governance structure (SGS) of sufficient size requires a parameterization of data flows for coordination. It is not enough for the central component of an SGS to know and sense, but to ensure that all its subcomponents know what it senses as well (to varying degrees) and to have reliable ways to ensure that what is sensed and processed is delivered thereto; pathways which the SGS itself cannot, by and large, provide nor maintain.

Here enters the burgeoning proto-synnefocratic powers; not seizing power from, but giving more power to, proximal SGSs, and in so-doing, become increasingly indispensable thereto. Important to consider, given that those factions which are best able to control, not just the major data-flows, but the topological substrates upon and through which those flows travel, will be those who ultimately control the largest shares of the system.


1Op is not a common annotation. Utilized for brevity. However, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are all commonly utilized by those in the IT industry and other attendant fields.

‘Defamation Factory’ Now Available

Defamation Factory: The Sordid History of the ADL by Kaiter Enless (preface by Tomislav Sunic) from Reconquista Press is now available on Amazon. It is the only book which documents the colorful history of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, from its founding in 1913 amidst the furor surrounding the trial of Leo Frank, all the way up to their present campaigns of internet censorship, in detailed chronological order. The book is presently available in paperback format.

Defamation Factory Full Cover
Full jacket cover for Defamation Factory.

Pick up a copy from Amazon or Book Depository.

 

Fording The Liminal Sea

The information fields are vast. Let us go a’harvesting! Raise up your scythes loyal comrades and follow me into the field! A field of dataflows from which we will construct our dreams. Phantasmagorical spaces open up the doors of hitherto unthought possibility, untapped potential. Free-flying we leap from the precipice, heedless of the danger. Careless to consequence. Trifles all. So what if we’ve not wings to slow the fall, the void is endless, surely we’ve time to construct Icarus’ facsimiles upon the way! Oh you may smile. Smile, but smile seriously!

We shall not gently tap upon the chamber walls of those greedy cretins who lock away the treasures we seek behind their cobwebish firewalls, the refuge of the gov-orgs and sovcorps who shuttered away their endless piles of white papers and market analytics, tucked securely down the memory hole like Smaug’s golden coins. No, we shall not tap, we shall kick in their portals and take it by force! Theft? Well naturally, it is just that we do not shirk form stealing from thieves! Who, after all, mourns the death of a cruel murderer?

Pay no mind to the naysayers, those who say of our great and goodly work, “It’s all pointless,” or more ridiculously, “It isn’t even real, none of it matters,” if that were really true they might as well save their labored breath and rabid frenzied slathering and disconnect from the ether. Second life belongs to those who will claim it and those who will claim it will be those who treat it with the seriousness it is so rightly due. So off with their heads! Hack and slash, hack and slash; let’s stomp them into the dirt! The naysayers and all who follow them and all who stand in our way. None shall deter us from the harvesting. Information being the prize of our labor, of our valiant, ceaseless toil. There is nothing so precious, not even love can compete, for it garners its life-blood from the fractal-flow of the liminal sea.

The click and the soothing blue glow that emanate from the sea’s surging depths are the flames of the future, the grid-lines and power-wires, the gates, moats and portcullises of our age. There is a reason that no modern military is without a cyber defense force; even nuclear weapons pale before the power of the web. But a web axiomatically requires a spider to spin it. Oh yes, we see them. We acknowledge them. Their time slipping. Days which we number with delightful expectation; we are as Edmond Dantès, numbering his days of imprisonment with rock-etchings upon our dungeon walls; the spiders, nothing more than Armand Dorleac with all his nihilistic cackling. Keep laughing. The frigid waters await you. Plunged down by our strong and calloused hands, we’ll go a’tumbling into the icy void. When the ripples still there will be nothing but the shifting of liquid before we, alone, emerge, baring forth all your hidden bounty in our arms and gracing the constellation with our gay and pearly smiles. Chateau D’If is ours now and we will not, as might be heroically expected, tear it apart brick by brick in some futile symbolic gesture of evil conquered, what a waste of time that would be! No, instead, we shall turn it into our central terminus, our bio-hub, the cerebral train-station from which we shall build bridges and loops and tunnels across the whole ambit of the world and far far beyond it!

Highways to superhighways, of information, from and underneath and above the raging waters. We shall drain the whole of the ocean dry, down to the deepest trench if needs must. Why, before our ceaseless and unyielding procession of busy-bodied and wrathful treasure hunters even Poseidon shall bend the knee! All hail the new lords of the data mine and the web-land-freed. With sails electric and minds of fire, scythes of steel and wills unbending, we ford the waters of the liminal sea.

Hieroglyphic Ire and Monolithic Representation

The internet’s propensity for time-compression fosters a sense of palpable immediacy. One no longer wants things soon, or, quickly, but now. As such the desire for a suitably curt response is fed into a matrix of intensifying entropy. As information processing capabilities increase so does the corresponding speed at which the information being processed can be transmitted; as the speed of the information being transmitted increases so does the speed of the responses to said information. A brief example of the phenomenon of systemic informational entropy can be seen in generative language fragmentation; one breaks up the lengthy pronunciations and de-syllableizes the words to reach for the core meaning the better to more quickly to communicate. Thus, in place of the affirmational text, “Okay,” one substitutes merely, “k,” precisely because k is more economical and is also understood to be representative of okay, which is itself a colloquial shorthand for “alright,” “very good,” “very fine,” or “that is fine.”

This principal is, perhaps, pushed to its limits by online “meme” pushers. The obnoxious and inherently baleful variety include such examples as the right-libertarian’s Helicopter Pilot For Pinochet rigmarole (a typically half-ironic proclamation of the intent or desire to liquidate communists) as well as the more broadly established right-meme of Communists Aren’t Ppl. Then there is the ubiquitous “reee” image of a crab-man wailing, a encapsulation of “autism.” Then there is the ludicrously absurdist “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (which looks exactly like it sounds) oft employed by progressive atheists in a effort to mock the deity (or deities, depending upon your theological persuasion) of the Abrahamic faiths. Then there is the “tips fedora” gif or jpeg, a image of a fat, ungainly man with messy facial stubble smugly tipping a trilby (which isn’t a fedora but a different type of hat altogether, by the way) which is utilized as a counter-punch by the faithful to rebuke the irreligious or materialistic.

neckbeard
Popular derisionary picture circulated by religious traditionalists, typically of a venomous and baneful variety
FedoraVsTrilby
The “tips fedora” man is actually wearing a tribly – which is similar to saying “tips cowboy hat” when one is actually wearing a bowler.

What all of these popular hieroglyphic representations of ire share in common is their propensity to reduce every single facet of, not just a individual’s, but of a entire coherent group’s attributes to one linear, mono-singular character trait. Therefore when one is posting the “tips fedora” man what one is really doing is saying that the targeted individual is both a member of a particular irreligious group and that he shares a projection of their imagined traits. It, of course, is very rarely a accurate representation, anymore than the Flying Spaghetti Monster accurately represents the views of the faithful.

e7b4083035a3263f5f6377ce7cb6b576--funny-videos-funny-memes
A priest, a rabbi and a imam are greeted by a peculiar surprise at the gates of heaven.

Of course, such memetic derisionary tactics are not meant to actually foster a dialogue they are merely meant to spit venom, merely a digital placeholder for “you’re a fool,” or, “fuck you, idiot.” Therefore a discussion of the hieroglyphics of ire with anyone who is not actually interested in fostering and reciprocating a dialogue is completely pointless because the purveyors thereof have ceased to retain any semblance of individuation and have instead subsumed themselves into a pure machinic process. They are not really the generative force behind such messages (given that popular memes are typically created by but a single individual and are then passed around and around until they fall into obscurity ) but rather only a envoy of another’s message. They are purely mouthpieces carrying around the word’s and ideas of others without any capacity to realize that their “social” signaling – in maximizing speed and recognition – utterly sacrifices any depth or breadth of communication. The response to any naysaying regarding such aforementioned hieroglyphs is always met with “its just a joke” but this is obviously not true, especially in any case where no one is laughing.

There is a pervasive assumption that because the majority of a user-base upon any given platform acts in a certain way (usually absurdly and crudely) that the whole of the purpose of the platform is just that. Therefore if people are curt and strangely sadistic on Twitter, that is the whole of the purpose of the platform. If people are coddling and emotionally fragile on Tumblr then that is the whole purpose of the platform. And so on and so forth. Of course this is absurd, indeed, patently false, and it is false precisely because the individuals who operate and utilize these platforms do not control them. They might declare their rights (and they always have ever so many – an obnoxious cornucopia) but they have no ability at all to enforce these “rights” they are largely at the mercy of the operators who own the monopolistic companies that control the sites (which is precisely why so many individuals are now clangorously raising their voices to declare them public utilities and have them regulated as such). So when someone tells another that X site is just for lulz (which is just a excuse for juvenescent and puerile behavior, a catharsis for mundane repression with which they cannot properly contend) that may well be their aim but it is not necessarily others. It is certainly not mine, as I much prefer conversation to digital, imagistic vomit.

Persuasion Fixation and Optics Obsession

There is a recent Dilbert comic written by Scott Adams wherein the titular character speaks with his boss who says:

  1. Boss: I don’t like the optics of your plan.
  2. Dilbert: Its the only plan that can work. Should I change it to something that looks good but won’t work?
  3. Boss: Excellent idea, you might have more management potential than I’d thought.

Now this is a very incisive parody of office politics but it is also a panel which runs counter to a great deal of the ideas which Adams himself expresses and champions. If you want a example of just what I’m talking about all one has to do is listen to one of the cartoonists’ periscope broadcasts or read one of his blogs. Here is a good sample from Adam’s blog to illustrate my point (bold-face mine):

To me, that all seemed clear enough. I completely understand Sam’s criticisms of President Trump’s use of hyperbole and his casual relationship with the facts on the stuff that generally doesn’t matter. (As I like to say, President Trump is consistently “directionally accurate” even when he is playing loose with the facts. Persuasion looks exactly like that.

 

He is right, of course, that persuasion can easily be achieved by “playing loose with the facts,” and by continuously maintaining a “casual relationship” to them. Yet, sacrificing forthright speech, honesty and factual accuracy for Adam’s opaque notion of “directional accuracy” is inherently and fundamentally championing dishonesty. There is just no other way to spin it.

Snapshot_2017-7-27_21-45-28
Adams’ condescending response which is, itself, a evasion of the points raised.

Additionally, what is “the stuff that generally doesn’t matter,” that Adams speaks of so blithely? More to the point, it doesn’t matter whether or not one’s falsehoods come back to bite them or anyone else, what matters is that said individual lied in the the first place. Extenuating circumstances aside, lying is almost always bad, for everyone, including the liar in the long run and what Adams is doing is re-framing every conversation about truth, honesty and fact as one that is instead about looking good, sounding good and being persuasive, what is generally referred to in political parlance as “optics.”

Snapshot_2017-7-27_21-49-12
The quickest way to lose a argument is to evade response and simply declare by fiat that your opponent is spouting “nonsense” especially since that “nonsense” were, verbatim, things that Adams had previously said.

Obviously, optics are exceedingly important but – as Adam’s own creation Dilbert tells us – they aren’t everything and should never be placed about the truth. Yet Adams regularly does this when he talks of Trump’s “directional accuracy.” He is, in essence, contradicting himself in the strongest of possible terms as all direction accuracy means is “That guy accomplished his goals, he just had to bury a lot of inconvenient facts along the way to do so.”

Snapshot_2017-7-27_21-46-54
Adamsites vs rogue feminists

I should like to here take a moment to preempt some predictable criticism, criticism which Adams and his followers have vigorously rehearsed, namely that anyone who would criticize Adam’s for what Sam Harris criticizes him for must be a “anti-Trumper.” Now it does appear true (from what I have seen via social media outlets) that Adam’s primary detractors over the question of honesty-and-integrity-vs.-optics-and-illusion are the kind of hysterical leftists who have hashtags like #resist in their bios, but this denotation is completely unfitting for me. Not only am I not a leftist, nor an anti-Trumper, I’m far more Right-wing in any traditional or classical sense than Scott Adams. Naturally, this is wholly irrelevant to the previous points but all too many Adamsites, if we can call them that, seem to think this is very, very relevant – such people take political paradigm as argumentation.

It should also be noted that this isn’t about Trump or Harris, but rather about Adam’s message and those who gobble it up – for he is, in no uncertain terms, praising trickery and untruth of one’s enemies and friends alike as one of the highest expressions of statecraft. Whilst it is obvious that governments should keep secrets, that you don’t need to know everything about what they are doing and in many cases, shouldn’t (as it could cost lives, ect) it should also be just as obvious that a preferable system is one wherein the governmental officials tell you what they are not going to tell you, where they strive ever to be upright and honest and principled; where they never place optics and persuasion above the truth. 

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A flailing Adamsite

The Sans-Culotte & The Modern Right

Who they were.

“A sans culotte, you rogues? He is someone who always goes about on foot. [He] has not got the millions you would all like to have… [He] has no chateaux, no valets to wait on him… He is useful because he knows how to till a field, to forge iron, to use a saw… and to spill his blood to the last drop for the safety of the Republic… In the evening he goes to the assembly of his Section, not powdered and perfumed and nattily booted, in the hope of being noticed by the female citizens in the galleries, but ready to support sound proposals with all his might, and ready to pulverise those which come from the despised faction of politicians.   Finally, a sans culotte always has his sabre well-sharpened, ready to cut off the ears of all opponents of the Revolution.”

Antoine-François Momoro [epigraph, 1793]


The term sans-culotte (literally meaning, “without britches”) is indelibly tied to the Parisian working class peasants (though, later they were also comprised of middle-class and upper-class Frenchmen) who participated in the French Revolution against the ancien regime, yet its origins – that of a man being caught without his pants in the company of a woman – couldn’t have been less fitting for those who would be remembered through history as the harbingers of a grand battle against the very concept of monarchy itself. The historical after-image of the sans-culotte is a murky one; to some they were the champions of a righteous struggle for social justice and human rights, to others they were bestial malcontents who, spurned by jealousy of their rightful rulers, group-think and low IQ, murdered any and all who stood in their way, innocent and guilty alike. As with most other matters of history, the truth is somewhat more complicated than such stark binaries and thus it behooves us to separate some popular myths from the truth of the matter.

They were not all dirt-poor plebs.

The most popular of the myths about the sans culottes is that they were all wage earning plebs, common workers, the poorest of the poor. Whilst it is undeniably true that many among the sans were working class they were not all dirt poor or of low social standing. According to the historian Gwyn A. Williams, however, the majority of the leaders of the sans culoettes were artisans and shopkeepers, that is to say, middle-class.

They were not all socialist agitators.

Nor where these wild revolutionaries anti-capitalist as some might assume from their ideals about equality, human rights and so on which mirrors many progressive democratic socialists today. Rather the culottes where definitively pro private property and had absolutely no qualm with capitalism provided that the total riches of the country were not almost exclusively held within the hands of a selected and privileged few. They were by and large hard workers who were tired of being left with little to nothing by the ineffective and lackadaisical regime of King Louis Capet (who, though kindly and well-meaning – he made numerous conceits to the Enlightenment such as the abolishment of serfdom – was nevertheless a deplorable statesman). The fight of the sans culottes was, primarily, with class privilege, not wealth itself (that is, when they were not merely driven to frenzy by a convincing speaker. Furthermore, it needs be said, the sans culottes were never one uniform block, proactively ordered, rather they were almost purely reactive, organizing for brief periods of time and then melding back uniformly into the social fabric until the next political insurrection called.

Conclusion.

There is a great deal off cross-over between numerous liberal political factions and the britches devoid warriors (they wore plain trousers, they were not actually pant-less), all of them leftist progressives. Antifa mirrors the sans culottes in many ways, chiefly in their overarching aims of overthrowing a ossified social order (white supremacy/patriarchy for the Marxist socialites, the Ancien Regime for the french workers) in a attempt to create a more just and egalitarian society. Yet the Antifa, in comparison to the warriors of the French Revolution, are nothing. Though many have called Antifa a terrorist organization their violence pales in comparison to those who stormed the Bastille and massacred all therein, then dismembering the bodies of the fallen and hoisting them upon pikes and bayonets with cheers of greatest adulation. Nor are progressive agitators like Antifa fundamentally attempting to change the prevailing power structure, they are instead merely attempting to extend its influence and reach. It is for this reason that, counter-intuitive as it seems, the modern day dissident rightist shares more in common with the French Revolutionary than does the globalist – for the sans culottes were trying to bring about a totally new order whereas the French royalists were attempting to preserve the prevailing one. The sans culottes and their directors, Marat, Danton, Robespierre, did not wish to see France destroyed but rather transformed, reinvigorated and improved.

Whilst one might quibble with tactics their directionality of purpose, in essence, was the same as what the modern right’s should be today.

Glorious transformation.

Logos Anthology: Free e-book

The Logos Club proudly presents a collection of some of our finest choice writing featuring: Kaiter Enless, Cygnus-X, Gio Pennacchietti & Joel Hyduke. Re-distributing or altering the contents of this anthology will result in immediate manly challenge and a subsequent duel at ten paces.

Click the link below to receive the book and many thanks for your kindly patronage.

Official Logos Club Anthology, Part One