The City as a License: Design, Rights and Civics in a Blockchain Society

Special Issue by Martijn de Waal et al: “Building upon critical work on smart cities, platform urbanism and algorithmic governance, this special issue proposes the ‘generative metaphor’ of the City as a License as a lens to analyze the digitally enhanced management of urban resources and infrastructures from a perspective of rights and agency. Such a perspective has become especially urgent with the rise of new data practices around the emergence of distributed ledger technologies, as they may introduce additional layers of complexity to the ‘algorithmic governance’ of cities. This is particularly due to their tokenization of resources, identities, and rights and automatic administration of access to urban resources. Contributions in this special issue investigate the affordances of distributed ledger technologies with regards to civic agency in the governance of collective urban resources. Could these newly emerging management systems for energy production and consumption or property rights contribute to pro-social and sustainable ways of governing and managing communities and their resources, according to the logic of the commons? The lens of the City as a License not only allows for such an analysis of potentialities, but also for a critical view on these techno-social systems, such as the way in which they may repeat the inequities and obfuscations of existing systems, produce unintended consequences through complex processes, and complicate accountability…(More)”.