07 January, 2024

Recalling December keynote invitations and a looking forward to a happy new year

Face-to-face meetings allow people to run into the unexpected: Luneburg University's Libeskind Building (photo:  Markus Hesse 2023).

Happy New Year Everyone, I hope you all had a relaxing, fun, or productive holiday (whatever suits you). My--Carr writing here--December was rather full, and then followed by 10 days of staycation.

Two highlights from December stand out in particular. The first was a trip to the University of Stavanger, where Anders Riel Müller invited me give a keynote at his final event of the Research Network for Smart Sustainable Cities. It was a treat to present alongside Jens Fisker, Ramon Ribera Fumaz, Maja de Neergaard, Casey Lynch, and Ugo Rossi. A big thank you to Anders for the fabulous conference and several days of extended dialogues on issues of digitalization, urbanity and (the likely death of) smart cities.

The second highlight was at the Center for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg where Armin Beverungen and Maja-lee Voigt invited Markus and me to talk about our work on large digital corporations. I had to attend online as the Virus that is unfortunately still among us. A perk of double authored papers, however is that one can go-thank you Markus(!) Another big thank you to Armin and Maja-lee and for the pleasure of thoughtful discussion with your colloquium. We look forward to more exchange.

Both talks discussed how powerful tech companies such as Amazon or Google drive urban development, and what the wider implications are that sit at the nexus of the relationship between territory, information technology and governance. Drawing inspiration from Richard Walker’s work on corporate geographies and Rosen & Alvarez León (2022) “digital growth machine” we discussed the role of big tech produce hegemonic relational geographies as “urban makers” (Sidewalk Labs); Tech as “urban users” (HQs), and Tech as an urban “power system” (Amazon.com).

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