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Ubiquitous information, communication and technology help create new power geometries and spatial logics, splintering our cities along infrastructural fault lines. Rather than a neatly divided city above and below, or inside and outside, our technologies help use form a far more complex mess of interconnected networks, and the spaces between. Exurban noir is no longer composed simply of material deprivation, the disaffection of poverty and social exclusion, but also the marginalization from the use and configuration of networked infrastructures.
It is in Orange County, the backyard of Disneyland, that we wish to understand not the typical Disneyland view of future technologies but rather the different points of view from the lived experience of the OC. We hope the concepts that emerge reflect the resultant tensions and insecurities of our times, and counter-balance the optimism of digirati of San Francisco, London and Tokyo, or the techno-utopianism of Wired. What is Orange County like for those who aren't affluent 20-somethings? What does navigating Orange County feel like for those often left out of urban technology designs: first generation Vietnamese immigrants, 70 year old grandmothers using canes and living off a fixed income, Latina maids, people who don't own cars, and other outside of the mainstream world of planned communities, art galleries and upscale malls?
Let's Get Dirty
The workshop is planned to run over two days, with a significant amount of time involving actively engaging the exurban environment through "deep exploration" and urban actions.
Attendees will give a brief 10 minute presentation on the morning of the first day, stating their interest and trajectory within this topic area, followed by a discussion and strategy session on the issue of urban noir as a practice. On the afternoon of the first day we will venture out in groups with people native to Orange County who might have alternative views on the city and richer than a tourist view.
On the morning of the second day, we will adventure into our own groups of 4 into and across "The O.C." to collect, discover, uncover, map, spy, follow, trace, etc. in an effort to construct a discourse through doing. Participants will get dirty and hands-on with the urban environment. On the afternoon of the second day participants will discuss their findings through a series of "visual speculations" assembled from their experience of Orange County.
The tangible outcome of the workshop will be a series of designs, scenarios, and/or artifacts that will introduce the UbiComp attendees to the notion of the exurban noir through a composite poster of workshop projects.
Goals of the workshop
The goal of the workshop is not to provide general-purpose holistic solutions to problems within the complex social, cultural, political, and economic ecology of urban life. Rather, we hope to expand the vocabulary of potential urban technologies, enabling a wider range of choices as we form our future urban lifestyles. Our final designs are intended to provoke open ended discussions around urban technologies rather than present "killer apps" or final solutions.
By exploring the exurban noir we hope to initiate a dialog aligned with new urban territories and contexts. By examining the "worst possible" technologies, when participants complete the workshop, they will also have learned to understand how to develop the best possible technologies. Taking the above perspectives as a springboard for discussion and action, this workshop has the following aims: