Learning from Times Square’s roadmap

This work offers an unofficial tour around the new new Times Square. That bright, familiar and well designed pedestrianized zone in Midtown Manhattan. We will move slowly around the area, using self-crafted artifacts for capturing as much as we can of the outside, but also for letting us being caught, contaminated, affected and transformed (we hope so!) by this place.

This place, the version of Times Square I am presenting here, is placed in the exact spot that the local administration started to revitalize at the end of the 90s, and that one, at the same time, is settled in the personal interpretation of Times Square that a Peruvian woman, mother of two and that plays Minnie Mouse there has. Those versions are located at the same site that the Times Square of the Tourism, of the technology, of the media and of the daily piles of garbage around the whole zone.

One of the intentions of this piece of research is presenting a collective work where, through following some trajectories, we are going into deep discussions about not only how the Square is composed, but also about how to approach, from an STS perspective, those kinds of places we use to call as “public-urban ones.”

Regarding the structure of this work, I want that the user could be able to surf around without the necessity of following a specific route. So, feel free for exploring this content at your own. The below-proposed itinerary was made just as a writing guide. It is totally okay, even desirable if you get lost here.

This tour, a process of assembling an undetermined number of vignettes and outlines is an exercise of flattering and decomposing a non-stabilized place, as well as its interactions, into a set of non-finished products, through the elaboration of collective descriptions.

(This list will be updated constantly during the whole research process)

Part 1. Presenting the study object

Part 2. Urban Studies and STS

  • General panorama about urban/city from STS
  • The few studies about the city from STS
  • But, are they really just a few?
  • Studies about infrastructures. What is an infrastructure
  • Assemblage urbanism
  • The problem city-Urban and epistemic-ontological debate
  • Twisting the city
  • The new epistemologies for the urban

Part 3. How to make STS ethnography in urban spaces

  • What to see, how to see and how to grasp what I am seeing
  • The process of following trajectories and mapping controversies
  • The process of linking place and text
  • The role of the researcher
  • Naturalism and realism in ethnography
  • A disciplinary debate about ethnography
  • The boundaries of the field and the study object
  • Ethnography as a source of inventiveness
  • Palimpsests and Benjamin
  • Simultaneity
  • What is an artifact? Debate Winner – Joerges – Woolgar & Cooper.

Part 4. Times Square from a classical STS perspective. The pedestrianization of Times Square

Part 5. The designated zones, study of a controversy

  • Flattering the controversy 
  • Politics and publics
  • Artifacts and public life
  • The formation of groups from a Norbert Elias’s perspective
  • Multiplicities and simultaneity

Part 6. A digital exploration of Times Square

  • Linking other ways for doing ethnography based online
  • A deepest exploration of those others digital Times Square 
  • Digital possibilities for exploring life in the streets. Hypermedia
  • Representations and virtual dioramas
  • Discussion about reality and realities
  • What’s real and what does artificial mean?

Part 7. Learning from Times Square

Resources for making ethnography from Times Square’s features

  • Hunting and being trapped. The art of seduction
  • Flows and accumulation. Redundancy
  • Screens. Juxtaposition of realities
  • Spectacle, glare and show. The multiplicity of amplification

Part 8. Some vignettes of Times Square