Glitchy vignettes of platform urbanism

‘Platform urbanism’ has recently gained traction as a designator for emergent dynamics and material configurations associated with the increasing presence of digital platform enterprises in cities. Initial scholarly engagements with platform urbanism have tended to coalesce around critiques of digital platforms as progenitors of inevitably dystopian urban futures. In this paper, I advance a counter-topographical minor theory of platform urbanism. I do so by drawing on Legacy Russell's notion of the glitch as a tendency toward both error and erratum (correction) in digital systems, mobilizing space/times where platforms appear ‘glitchy’—unexpectedly, otherwise than anticipated, or not at all—as the margins of platform urbanism. Through the narration of three specific platform/city interfaces from the minors of their glitchy margins, I capture the ways in which platform–urban configurations are demonstrably open to negotiations, reconfigurations, and diffractions through tactical maneuvers rooted in everyday digital practices of urban denizens. Theorized from the minor, platform urbanism is a phenomenon that may beget an array of possible outcomes that remain shapeable by mundane tactical interventions in the platform-mediated present. This ultimately underwrites possibilities for more hopeful digital urban politics, theory, and futures.

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Volume 38 Issue 2

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