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First published in Ars Electronica 2015: Post City. Hatje Cantz
[1] Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim, Against the Smart City (The City Is Here for You to Use) (New York, NY: Do projects, 2013); Anthony M Townsend,Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013); Rob Kitchin, “Big Data, New Epistemologies and Paradigm Shifts,” Big Data & Society 1, no. 1 (April 1, 2014).

[2] Joe Flood, The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City — and Determined the Future of Cities(Penguin, 2010).

[3] Carl E. Gianino, “The Rand Fire Project Revisited,” Fire Technology 24, no. 1 (1988): 65–67.


[5] Daniel Lathrop and Laurel Ruma, Open Government (O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2010).

[6] Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford, The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance, 1 edition (Jossey-Bass, 2014).

[7] Mike Hearn, “Future of Money,” 2013.

[8] Sherry R. Arnstein, “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35, no. 4 (1969): 216–24.

[9] Samantha MacBride, Recycling Reconsidered the Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012).

[10] Stacey Kuznetsov and Eric Paulos, “Rise of the Expert Amateur: DIY Projects, Communities, and Cultures,” in Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries, 2010, 295–304.

[11] Dietmar Offenhuber and Katja Schechtner, eds., Inscribing a Square: Urban Data as Public Space (Vienna, New York: Springer, 2012).

[12] Elinor Ostrom, “Crossing the Great Divide: Coproduction, Synergy, and Development,” World Development 24, no. 6 (June 1996): 1073–87, doi:10.1016/0305–750X(96)00023-X.

[13] Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos, Inverse Infrastructures: Disrupting Networks from Below (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012).

[14] Ed Borden and Adam Greenfield, “YOU Are the ‘Smart City,’” Pachube :: Blog, June 30, 2011.

Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?

Jean Luc Godard’s Alphaville was perhaps the first film about a smart city: a city where are all infrastructure is controlled by a central computer according to principles of reason and efficiency. That is until the cartoon detective Lemmy Caution takes it down. Even when Alphaville was released in 1965, the idea of the city as an intelligent machine was not new, it was already a familiar science fiction trope. One could, however, object that although the city of Alphaville is intelligent (after all, it engages in a philosophical dialogue with Lemmy), it is not very smart. Smartness does not require human-like intelligence, it requires recognizing patterns, anticipating what needs to be done, and doing it without making a big fuss — keeping things invisible.

Elmo Lincoln in “Tarzan of the Apes” (1918)

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First published in Ars Electronica 2015: Post City. Hatje Cantz

urbanNext (June 4, 2023) Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?. Retrieved from
Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?.” urbanNext – June 4, 2023,
urbanNext December 1, 2017 Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?., viewed June 4, 2023,<>
urbanNext – Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?. [Internet]. [Accessed June 4, 2023]. Available from:
Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?.” urbanNext – Accessed June 4, 2023.
Civic Technologies — Tools or Therapy?.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: June 4, 2023]

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