YOU, AS A PERSON AMONG PEOPLE IN THE CITY

Have you ever asked yourself, who are you in this city? Is there anything in this city that you feel you belong to? I have. I have wondered what I was doing in Amsterdam, what the purpose of me staying in this city is. But then, as a student, I should get back to all the deadlines waiting for me. Then, time flies, I keep repeating doing that. Wondering about the future, but present obstacles leaving me stuck and I cannot find the answers for all of my questions. But you don’t have to. You can do more as a person among other people in the city. This blog post will explain why you, as an individual, are contributing to making a city and help its spirit never dies.

Supposed that you are an intensive user of Instagram. You use Instagram mostly every day to post your daily activity when you go to a restaurant, you join a concert, you hang out with friends in a nice park, etc. You have no idea how your picture will be used, besides the purpose that you want to show your followers what you do in a day. Then let me tell you, each picture that you post will be a valuable data source for local researchers to analyze and understand the afterward, reflect the way each community look at the world and conceive information[1]. That is a pretty big deal, isn’t it? The article “Zooming into an Instagram city: Reading the local through social media” by Nadav Hochman and Lev Manovich explains in specific the role of data source of individual in the city and mostly, how these data will be applied in using to comprehensively understand the general local community, and establish that as the foundation to visualize and determine cultural, social, and political insights in a specific location in a specific time span[2]. Personally thinking, everyone in a city is different in their own way, however, there would still be obvious relationships that connect them all together: the city and the community. As you have the feeling of proud when living in the city you feel you truly belong to, you would have the tendency of exploring the city even more, and as a result, the city image will appear quite often in your social media account. I am Vietnamese coming from the North of Vietnam, and of course, Hanoi is a beautiful city (that you should visit one day). Although I lived in Hanoi for only three months, I have a photo album of Hanoi on Facebook consisting of more than 100 pictures over the human, the landscape, the cuisine, the history, the connection, the proud of Hanoian of the city. I know that my album will be used for several purposes of analyzing and researching over the city, because it embraces various aspects of the city (although it is a different platform), and this is exactly how you, as a person, will contribute your effort in the “people community”. After all, you will go on the Internet, you end up seeing other’s post about the city, and that is how locally the data set is connected and shared, to then understand the power of social media and network can bring the beauties of a city or local community outside their borders, both tangible and intangible. The research has embraced the idea in details to give the audience a thorough knowledge about the power of technology in the city performance and how each citizen is a unique tree in the forest.

<p style=”font-size: 0.9rem;font-style: italic;”><a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/11518822@N00/243168106">"Stiffe009"</a><span>by <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/11518822@N00">Jason Fung</a></span> is licensed under <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" style=”margin-right: 5px;”>CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</a><a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” style=”display: inline-block;white-space: none;opacity: .7;margin-top: 2px;margin-left: 3px;height: 22px !important;”><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-by_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-nc_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-sa_icon.svg" /></a></p>

You know, some movements in the street will be captured at some points, the picture and captions you posted on social media will be saved, and you wonder why they do that. This is, first of all, not stalking or spying or anything like that, it is the nature of a city. Second of all, as mentioned above, these data will be used to determine and visualize a new metaphor when it comes to thinking of a city, of which the outstanding idea is a vertical stack of image and data layers[3]. If you raise yourself a question:

“ How is my city looking like now? “

“What is a 21st-century city? “

<p style=”font-size: 0.9rem;font-style: italic;”><a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/40035349@N00/157884570">"New York, Broadway”</a><span>by <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/40035349@N00">master_levis_1968</a></span> is licensed under <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" style=”margin-right: 5px;”>CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a><a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=html" target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer” style=”display: inline-block;white-space: none;opacity: .7;margin-top: 2px;margin-left: 3px;height: 22px !important;”><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-by_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-nc_icon.svg" /><img style=”height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;” src=”https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/static/img/cc-nd_icon.svg" /></a></p>

Then this, the research of On-Broadway to answer all your doubts. One of the data source when conducting this research is a social media platform (Instagram, Twitter) that citizens in the city use the most to represent the city and other additional sources[4]. For this specific research, they focus mostly on Broadway that span Manhattan, to analyze the city dimensions, and the result is fairly interesting because they have discovered a new but most dominant type of city view, the human flow of activities[5]. In addition, most of the city view is represented by modern writers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, and digital artists, creating a multi-dimensional city view for not only a local community but also tourists and the city outsiders. As a citizen living in one of the popular city in the world, Amsterdam, I feel that the researchers of this project are really doing their best in visualizing the city and bringing a new pattern of looking at the city for their citizens. Thus, citizens play an important role here, ladies and gentlemen. If you think you are not that important and not influencing much to the city, oh no, think again. As I mentioned, the human flow of activity is a new outstanding element, and an individual cannot make the diversity and the “flow” in a street of the city. It requires multi actions to visualize the layers of the city. Thus, I want you to understand that, it is you, as a person, that help the diversity of the city you are living thrives, it is your unique thinking and behavior manner that devote and grow the local community characteristics. Therefore, all in all, as I have said, it is many trees that make the forest.

Perhaps everyone is familiar with the word “capitalism”, however, for who does not know, capitalism is a sort of economic philosophy or system in which individual business are owned privately and operated based on the decisions of the relevant stakeholder or corporate ownership of capital goods and products, by investment, prices, product, manufacture and distribution, sale of good in free market with competition[6]. As we can see, capitalism has many influences on a country, and looking deeper, is human’s life. We have seen the thrives of an individual business corporation and their development to increase the globalization of not only the organization but also the country they originate from. Thus, the impact of capitalism is undeniable. However, do many people consider the surveillance of capitalism? Do you interpret the control that you have over the distribution of capitalism’s social and economic business?[7] The book “The age of surveillance capitalism: the fight for the future at the new frontier of power” will explain the valuable lesson of, basically, what surveillance capitalism is and how and the current global situation that capitalism is creating towards economy and society. Ok, at this point, you might be “Wow, not politic again”, but true, it is vital that you understand that you have the choice of deciding how you want your future to be, will you want your future involving some aspects that nurture or hold back the benefits of capitalism on society and economy[8]. I always perceive that capitalism is a good thing and it has brought my mother country, Vietnam, so many advantages and developments, and I am happy seeing that almost 95% of Vietnamese supporting capitalism[9]. I admit that I have seen many positive achievements since capitalism starts in Vietnam, however, in saying surveillance capitalism is truly successful in Vietnam, I don’t think so. Hence, as a citizen, a person in the city where capitalism thrives, your responsibility and contribution to help capitalism thrive in the most sustainable way is highly crucial and it might take ages and years to see the result of your effort, however, you want to start working to see it happens, right?

Wow, that was a lot to say. To conclude, I want to emphasize that every action, every movement, every contribution you are making in the city you are living, you might think that it is insignificant and no one would notice it, since it will definitely take years or even decades to see the results that you have created in the city. However, it does not have to be. A city connects generations within a city together, and the next generation, who is your children, your grandchildren, will appreciate the effort you pay to build the city as it will be in the future. A tree cannot be called a forest. The forest is made by thousands of trees. Thus, you are a valuable piece of the city you are living, so now, I hope you will find your truest purpose of staying in your city and a place you would feel truly belong to.

Footnote:

[1] Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).

[2] Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).

[3] Daniel Goddemeyer, L. (2019). ON BROADWAY. [online] On-broadway.nyc. Available at: http://on-broadway.nyc/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].

[4] Daniel Goddemeyer, L. (2019). ON BROADWAY. [online] On-broadway.nyc. Available at: http://on-broadway.nyc/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].

[5] Daniel Goddemeyer, L. (2019). ON BROADWAY. [online] On-broadway.nyc. Available at: http://on-broadway.nyc/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].

[6] Merriam-webster.com. (2019). Definition of CAPITALISM. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].

[7] Zuboff, S. and Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism. London: Profile Books.

[8] Zuboff, S. and Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism. London: Profile Books.

[9] Winn, P. (2015). [online] Eu.usatoday.com. Available at: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/03/13/vietnam-capitalism-global-post/70261770/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].