The Urban Digital Platform: Instances from Milan and Amsterdam
Department of Geography, Urban Planning and International Development, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
Abstract: The article interrogates the concept of the urban in relation to digital platforms designed for citizen-based initiatives and local projects. We must broaden our scope as urban scholars to include this vast undergrowth of ‘other’ platforms and study how they intersect with the social and material fabric of cities. Drawing from media and internet studies, urban sociology, and digital geography, I introduce the novel concept of ‘urban digital platform’ (UDP). I do so theoretically by using a digital geography body of work and the level of abstractness proposed by Bratton (2016), in ‘the stack,’ which are entry points to define any kind of digital platform. While global and for-profit digital platforms exploit density, size, and diversity, extracting resources into a data-driven form of governance and computational production of space. UDPs benefit from the urban as a front to (re)organise citizen-based, mutual-aid initiatives, and solidarity actions. The core of the UDP concept lies in the ambiguity of the role of the urban government, media literacy, and techno-biases as basic requirements for citizens to access the platform, its services, and goods. Those claims are supported by instances and empirical findings of two analysed platforms in Milan and Amsterdam.
Keywords: city layer; digital geography; platform urbanism; urban digital platform