Monday, November 5, 2018

Outdoor Advertising and Public Space

So, there was controversy here in Sydney a couple of weeks ago about the NSW Government's decision to force the Opera House to display an advertisement for a horse race.

I wrote an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald about the broader issue of advertising and its impacts on public space.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian's intervention to insist the Sydney Opera House allow blatant Racing NSW advertising on its sails is objectionable for many reasons.
Most worryingly, it signals a new intensification of the ongoing privatisation of our public spaces through advertising. The surfaces of our city are being remade as advertising space before our very eyes. ...
You can read the rest of the piece here.

There was a great protest down at the Opera House on the night in question - you can read about that here.

I've had a bee in my bonnet about advertising in public space for a while now ... and published an article in Antipode a few years ago about the global outdoor advertising industry. You can find that here (email me if you're interested and have a hard time accessing it).

And there's also a piece about hacking outdoor advertising and the decommodification of public space in the new book I've been involved with writing, Sydney We Need to Talk!.


I'm excited (and proud!) to announce the publication of a new book that I've been involved in pulling together.

It's called Sydney -- We Need to Talk!

It has been written by a group of folks at the University of Sydney -- geographers, plannings, political scientists, visual artists, staff and students -- who have been meeting every week to talk about our work on the politics of urbanisation. We're all either thinking about Sydney and/or thinking from Sydney. There are essays on decommodification, dispossession, democratisation, degrees, domains, dimensions, domesticity and digitalisation (we started riffing with d-words, and couldn't stop).

Each essay is co-authored, and while each essay features work on Sydney, it also travels somewhere else. We bring Sydney into dialogue into other cities where we're working, including Jakarta, London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, New York and beyond.

The book was designed by artist Wendy Murray, who has also responded to each essay with a series of illustrations.

You can find out more about the book and its making, and download a free copy of the book, at the website we've set up here.

The list of contributors is: Brittany Betteridge, Pratichi Chatterjee, Leah Emmanuel, Amy Fairall, Bradley Garrett, Mini Graff, Kurt Iveson, Rupert Legg, Sophia Maalsen, Marilu Melo, Wendy Murray, Madeleine Pill, Dallas Rogers, Jathan Sadowski, Alistair Sisson, Amanda Tattersall, Sophie Webber

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Article on safety and public space in The Conversation

I was invited to contribute something on safety and public space for a series of articles in The Conversation called Cities for Everyone. Figured I should post it here too!


The central role of public spaces in the social, cultural, political and economic life of cities makes it crucial that they're accessible to everyone. One of the most important qualities of accessible public spaces is safety. If people do not feel safe in a public space, they are less likely to use it, let alone linger in it. Perceptions of safety are socially produced and socially variable. It is not simply the presence of crime - or "threatening environments" - that contributes to lack of safety or fear.

All sorts of measures are put in place to make public spaces safer, from design to policing. But when we consider the effectiveness of these measures, we always have to ask: whose safety is being prioritised?

Women and members of ethnic and sexual minorities are among those who experience particular kinds of threats, abuse and violence in public spaces. If we don't account for the social dimensions of safety, there's a risk that measures designed to enhance safety will have the opposite effect for some urban inhabitants.

Follow this link for the rest of it, with links to further research etc.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Cities and Citizenship Event in Sydney

I'm excited to say that we're having an event here in Sydney on Thurs Feb 22 called "Cities and Citizenship". It's a Sydney Ideas event, with some fabulous speakers who are in Sydney that week to participate in a workshop that Amanda Tattersall and I have organised to discuss the democratisation of cities.

Amanda and I will be talking about our work on urban alliance building, and we'll be joined by Helga Leitner from UCLA, Mark Davidson from Clark University, and Simon Tormey from here at the University of Sydney.

You can find more info and register here... it's free, you should come!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Green Revolution Game...

OK, this is completely off topic ... but in cleaning up an old office, I have just found a good, working version of The Green Revolution Game. The graf lover in me wants to keep it just because the fonts are so cool. But it's not for me, and before it ends up in a skip, I'm hoping someone might want to rescue it.

I don't really know much about it, beyond the basic idea that it's a role-playing game about agriculture and development. It was developed as a teaching tool in the 1970s by Graham Chapman from Cambridge. You can read a piece by him in Area from 1973 about how the game was developed, how it works, and its purpose here.

You can read a brief piece from the New York Times in 1982 about how the game was being used at the World Bank here.

Pics below.

Email me at if want it. I'm not charging for the object, but will need you to pay for postage (which might not be cheap, given its size and weight). First in, best dressed...