Here we go! Now that there is an economic crisis we are suddenly hearing the word infrastructure in the media? The first wave of massive infrastructure creation was the New Deal in the 30s, now a new new deal - an Obama and Harper version, and I wonder what the real spatial articulations of those will be. Sustainable transit or the same old roads? New R&D energy investment - wind farms? More sustainable data havens?
We have been hearing about infrastructure failures, as in cables being cut, bridges and overpasses collapsing, potholes and exploding water mains, and also about how the reserves were in Iraq and could not be called upon with Katrina in New Orleans, and how New Orleans was an example of complete and utter infrastructural neglect from both a social and physical perspective.
Now we are hearing that infrastructure investment is about job creation - an economic stimulation package. Hmmm! I guess the war in Iraq did not make enough money for the infrastructure builders - overseas contracts! So ya mess up the place and then bring in the boys to fix it up! And then you mess up the economy to bring in the boys to fix it up? Are we manufacturing things to fix - as Noam would say, as opposed to thinking about the momentum of those things in the first place and whether or not we want to restructure them or even if those are the things we want - and what do they determine in how we engage with space?
Now, in Canada we will hear about some new infrastructure/economic stimulation packages and lets see which builders/engineers get the dough to build what and how much new thinking and directions we get if any, and where will we be able to exert any influence in that direction - of these path dependent massive endeavours - that structure how we as individuals and as a group will navigate in space and how all this will mediate how we do a multitude of things!
It will be interesting to see if people - citizens - will be involved in directing these infrastructure projects. I think it is important to remember that infrastructures are not neutral, these folks could not have said it better, infrastructures are:
“involved in sustaining what we might call sociotechnical geometries of power in very real – but often very complex – ways”1,
which embody congealed social interests that represent
“long-term accumulations of finance, technology, know-how, and organizational and geopolitical power”2
and I think we need to be understand them in all their dispersions and be involved somehow, not just passive recipients - but how?
1Graham, Stephen and Simon Marvin, 2001. Splintering Urbanism, p.11
2Graham, Stephen and Simon Marvin, 2001. p.12.