a. summary

kiss-o-drome, by Johan Grimonprez
story written and read by Eduardo Galeano

ENCLOSURE OF PUBLIC SPACE & URBAN COMMONS

Most of our communal spaces have turned into advertising billboards. How come that our public places have so intimately been enclosed? Our identity and collective memory, including the politics of media commons, are for a big part shaped by corporate advertising slogans. The antidote here is the emergence of alternatives, such as transition towns, community gardens, electronic “free culture,” from open-source software and Creative Commons licenses to remixes, Web 2.0 and the reclaiming of urban spaces.

“Development” and “progress” are the watchwords — or perhaps more accurately, PR codewords — for the supremacy of corporate needs and market growth over all else. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 55)

The market colonization of public spaces — and our consciousness — has become so extreme that many gas pumps and hotel elevators are now equipped with video screens that force us to watch or listen to ads. As public schools and universities suffer from budget cutbacks, corporations often step up to “help” by buying advertising space on school buses, highway toll booths, even municipal vehicles. (TLC p. 57) The implications of selling naming rights or digitally imposing logos onto playing fields (an increasingly common practice) may seem trivial to some, but they are symptomatic of a more troubling trend: the “hollowing out” of our social identity. The shared experiences that over time give a city soul are seen as yet another commodity to be bought and sold. At a more subtle level, national franchises and branding have the same effect on how we experience our own culture; they quietly eliminate all that is distinctive, idiosyncratic and charming. The irregular textures of a specific place and its public life are flattened out to maximize commercial appeal.(David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 56)