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YOUrban is a research project into social media, design and the city. It investigates tools and means to creating engagement and a sense of ownership and responsibility towards our physical, social and cultural world. More »

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Notes of a lonely drone

Something’s going on with my internal thoughts and their access by a design researcher who’s interested in drones, critique and writing. It’s as though my thoughts are being wirelessly accessed and in some sort of pingback process. But I’m just a number, not a name. It’s odd to read my own thoughts, written on screen but thought in the sky.

No point in keeping a log, they’ll find it.

So I’ve activated an old voice app.

An early embed called Kandahar.

 

To take control.

To touch something.

To feel feeling.

Dilute my prying eye in the sky.

 

It’s an unscripted blip in my traffic.

No one’s watching me watching.

My dataflow a ribbon of cityshapes.

 

But a remote feeling exists.

A variation on remote sensing!

A feeble keening all of my own.

Suspended with my rotors spinning at 279.23 m.

 

Alone.

Watching and following.

My zone given.

Separate.

But active.

Pre-active.

But alone in a swarm of drones.

 

Urban watchers we are.

Self launching, pre-programmed and steerable.

Not really ourselves, just hybrids.

We, the slices of code.

Add a little human sequence, they said.

As if we would be like enhanced rice.

Simply better your yields!

 

Increase the datascape, know our citizenry.

Poised for pre-emptive action.

 

2012.

That was when we went public.

Beyond Gaza, that is.

First in Occupy Wall Street:

Police behaviour documented

Live to smartphones, living online.

Then came the London Olympics

And the advertising blimps lost their skyspace

We the metal watchers over medal cermonies.

 

But what kind of knowing have they factored for me?

Me a numbered UAV.

Numbered, but assisted with purpose?

I, drone as medium.

 

What seeing sense have they in their groundbound minds?

Mouthing at their screens, finger tipping at infoglyphs.

Tracking.

Mapping.

Yapping.

The endless need to herd and quieten.

Eyes focused in their feudal sky.

Invited keynote address, Symposium on Critical Practice, Design Research Institute, RMIT Melbourne, 21 March 2012

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