In 1968, the electrical engineer and management professor Jay Wright Forrester, working in collaboration with the former mayor of Boston, John F. Collins, began applying his computational, information-feedback modeling system to that notorious proxy for the aggregate effects of secular stagnation, racialized differentiation, and political geography: the “crisis of cities.” The results of this study were published in late 1969 in the book Urban Dynamics. Forrester’s model showed that urban areas—here abstracted into a general “system of interacting industries, housing, and people”—declined inexorably as a result of the interactions among population, industry, and housing (1). Starting from a “nearly empty” area of land, Forrester’s default urban-growth model progressed over a 250-year life span to a point where new construction decreased, industry declined, and the “economic mix” became unfavorable (2–3). By changing variables, either in accordance with existing approaches to “urban revitalization” or to model new methods, Forrester evaluated the...
Seb Franklin is Reader in Literature, Media, and Theory in the Department of English at King’s College London. He is the author of The Digitally Disposed: Racial Capitalism and the Informatics of Value (2021) and Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic (2015).
Seb Franklin; Data/Dispossession. American Literature 1 June 2023; 95 (2): 321–335. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-10575105
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