‘Hacking the City’ and ‘The Future of Things’ by Dr Chris Speed, Feb 5th-6th

Dr Chris Speed is Reader in Digital Spaces with the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh, where he teaches undergraduate, masters, supervises PhD students, and directs research projects. Dr Speed has sustained a critical enquiry into how digital technology can engage with the field of architecture and human geography through a variety of established international digital art contexts including: International Symposium on Electronic Art, Biennial of Electronic Arts Perth, Ars Electronica, Consciousness Reframed, Sonic Acts, LoveBytes, We Love Technology, Sonic Arts Festival, MELT, Less Remote, FutureSonic, and the Arts Catalyst / Leonardo symposium held alongside The International Astronautical Congress.

On February 5th, Tuesday, Dr Speed will present a half-day workshop, ‘Hacking the City’, on ‘urban hacking’ where he will explain and demonstrate some examples of ‘doing’ research with devices. The workshop will serve as a kind of training session for student and faculty researchers to be able to use these and similar devices in their urban research.

On February 6th, Wednesday, Dr Speed will give a seminar on his current research relating to urban hacking, on the Internet of Things, entitled “The Future of Things”.

Hacking the City


February 5th, 1-5pm – “Hacking the City”

This research workshop reports on a series of projects that have sought to explore to what extent concepts, vocabularies and practices emerging in relation to the Internet could usefully be applied to understandings of off-line contemporary relations and practices. The significance of the Internet in transforming concepts of community and our experience of the city has been widely recognised, and the extensive adoption of smart phones and mobile technologies is continuing to transform our engagement with place and people.

The research is particularly interested in the disruption that the transfer of online practices has had upon off-line and hybrid experiences of communities and place. Projects have explored the extent to which the emergence of a range of on-line practices (e.g., hacking, spamming, file-sharing, up-loading, down-loading) have impacted upon practices in the street, and how older terms have gained new inflections (e.g., pirating, commons, navigating).

The workshop will use a series of smart phone technologies to explore how they affect our experience of the city and our social relations. Some of these technologies are Comob (iPhone – used for social relations and co-mobility across the city),  MapLocal (Android – used for mapping boundaries and landmarks), and Tales of Things is (iPhone/Android – used for adding memories/stories to the city or city elements).

February 6th, 2-4pm – “The Future of Things”

Things are not what they seem. Objects, artifacts, articles and other things are beginning to be tagged with paper and electronic tags that are linked to data on the Internet. In the past the data was mundane: price, temperature and weight, but now bar codes and electronic tags are linked to photos, music and YouTube clips that people can link to via their own smartphone.   Using computer science facts and design fictions, the talk will look in to the future to explore what happens when things gain so much data that it gives them a sense of identity, and perhaps even intelligence. Chris is currently working with collaborative GPS technologies, the streaming of social and environmental data, and is part of a large UK academic team investigating social memory within the Internet of Things.

Hacking the City and The Future of Things will be chaired by Professor Jane M. Jacobs (Yale-NUS). Both events will take place in the Research Division Seminar Room at AS7 Shaw Foundation Building, level 6, in room 06-42.

To get to the Research Division Seminar Room, walk straight past the restrooms after exiting the elevator, then past the glass door on the left, and one door on the right. The seminar room is in front of you at the end of the corridor.

Lunch will be served from 1-2pm on February 5th, after which the Hacking the City workshop will commence, ending at 5pm. High Tea will be served at 3:30pm on February 6th, following the seminar on The Future of Things, which begins at 2pm. (The food is Halal and there are vegetarian dishes.)

Participants coming to the Hacking the City Workshop on the 5th are advised to bring their GPS enabled iPads and iPhones. They are also advised to preinstall the free apps Comob Net and Tales of Things, available at:


and https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tales-of-things/id366964873?mt=8

If you would like to attend either or both of the events, please RSVP with your name, email, and affiliation, indicating which event(s) you would like to register for, and if you have any dietary preferences or restrictions.

Thank you and hope to see you there!