(Travel Fellow, 2020-21)
Computing Los Angeles: histories of digital traffic governance
Jacob Forrest is a doctoral candidate in human geography at the University of British Columbia, with interests in urban geography, the history and sociology of technology, infrastructure studies, digital media studies, and post humanist theory. His doctoral project is a history of the digital present, which asks how and why city governments and technology corporations have come to idealize the computation of urban life as it is “really” occurring in real-time through sensors, big data analytics, and algorithmic interventions. What does it mean to govern a city in real-time, and what forms of urban life are made possible and foreclosed through assemblages of real-time monitoring and control? Through genealogies of computerized traffic management in Los Angeles from the mid-twentieth-century to the present, he reveals the overlooked bureaucratic infrastructures of digital urbanism: the protocols, standards, architectures, control rooms, cable and energy networks, and funding arrangements which have both amplified and complicated the aspirations of engineers to render the eventfulness of urban life legible and governable.