edited by Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner – Accountability Technologies: Tools for Asking Hard Questions


Ambra, ISBN-13: 978-3990435397, English,, 112 pages, 2013, Austria

This book gathers the texts presented at the Sensing Place/Placing Sense symposium, hosted by the afo architekturforum oberösterreich during Ars Electronica 2012. The editors explain “Accountability Technologies” as visualisation, analysis and measurement tools that empower the collective to gather, analyse and strategically use obtained data (this structure is reflected in the book’s three chapters: collect, comprehend, compel). There are plenty of methodologies for processes like Open Data, promoting transparency in institutional work, Data Journalism, social visualisation tools integrated in online media, and whistleblowing practices to expose abuses of power or prevarications at any level. This duality between citizen crowdsourcing solutions and visualisation of trends and data triggers further ideas, like “the monitorial citizens” ready to be mobilised for important collective needs. Already crossing disciplines like architecture, urbanism, social studies, design, and computer science, the contributors also pull in traditional science and the arts. Data available in urban contexts and how it can enable new processes within the city is a question that has been debated for some time. If technology is used mainly as an interface to literally enable those processes then it accomplishes its primary function: to share knowledge constructively and connect people with compatible goals, hopefully giving rise to a new generation of citizens who will consider the peer-to-peer concept as the norm.