The Street Plugin: Playing People and Infrastructure



  • The Street Plugin: Playing People and Infrastructure



  • A city operates on different scales: bikes, people, houses on street level; traffic and communities on neighbourhood level; infrastructure on the city level.

    This workshop playfully investigates transformations and frictions that occur when instruments that help to make sense of higher scale phenomena are introduced. When the focus shifts from lives of individuals to pedestrian flows, qualitative methodologies give way to modelling. Agent-based computer models (ABM) are instruments of scale as they allow observing higher-level behaviour with large numbers of agents (scaling up in number) throughout a longer time span (scaling up in time). Creating computer agents inherently involves the omission of the original ecological, social or political entanglements of the modelled agent, as modelling sacrifices ‘resolution’ for ‘scale’.

    The workshop hosts 15 participants and includes some small activities on the street. We will analyze a simple ABM that addresses community-based infrastructure maintenance. We will set up a simple distributed game in which some participants enact computer agents in urban space and will be connected via messaging app or mobile video stream with other participants in the Zoom call. During the game we will record the discrepancies and sympathies between the resolution of human experience and agent behaviour. The workshop closes with a discussion about scale critique, modelling, infrastructure, ableism, embodied knowledge and research through games.