Digitalization and urbanization are deeply intertwined. Yet, the impact of digitalization in shaping urban transformation is highly contested. A frequent concern voiced by critics is the reliance of digital urban management tools of so-called smart cities on »big data«, collected, monitored, tracked, computed, geo-localized and/or networked by ubiquitous devices and sensors. While collectable and marketable data is prioritized, the actual realities and needs of the majority of urban populations particularly in cities in the Global South are being ignored and compromised. Digital divide and commercialized smart city approaches foster the atomization and fragmentation of urban fabrics instead of »bringing the world closer together« (Mark Zuckerberg). The experimental theory-seminar Atlas of Digital Fragments aims to map globally digital tools and projects, which reveals the potential to empower local urban actors in actively shaping urban transformation processes.
The focus of this research are bottomup approaches and techniques (e.g. decentralized platforms, networks, digital maps), which respond to and facilitate the growing interest of citizens/users in taking a more active part in shaping their cities themselves. How can digital tools enable local communities and support userdriven urban transformation processes and co-production of neighborhoods? How can architects and urbanists foster the re-appropriation of digital space outside the dominant corporate sphere? What is the relationship between digital and physical commons? Are there digital counterstrategies for empowerment, especially for the growing informal settlements in the Global South? The seminar provides an introduction to the critical study of the smart city discourse, combined with collective research, analysis, discussion of global case studies of the digital fragments. The seminar will result in a collectively written and designed Atlas of Digital Fragments, which could be published or exhibited.