Grabill, “The Written City”

Jeffrey T. "The Written City: Urban Planning, Computer Networks,
and Civic Literacies." Bruce McComiskey and Cynthia Ryan, eds.
City Comp: Identities, Spaces, Practices. Albany: SUNY Press,
2003. 128-140.

Grabill looks at the ways cities are written through policy and data structures. Specifically, he considers the role of local citizens in Mechanicsville, Ga., and the rhetorical power inherent in the transformation of data about a place and prospective developments as it gets converted into and recirculated as information. What Grabill calls “the rhetorical turn in urban planning” is significant for the way it values the tacit knowledge of “non-expert” citizens. The chapter is also written in media res or, that is, before the community planning initiative was completed.

Overview statement: “This chapter is an exploration of how cities are written, how they can be written by citizens, and how the writing of a city can be the context for a writing class” (128).

“[Because civic life will become increasingly mediated by technologies] it piques the imagination to consider what computer-mediated civic life might look like, but it also should cause us to conside more mundane implications” (138c). The mundane implications are small involvements with uncertain outomes.

Related sources:
Short, John Rennie, The Urban Order: An Introduction to Cities, Culture, and Power.
Johnson, Robert, User-Centered Technology: A Rhetorical Theory of Computers and Other Mundane Artifacts.
Sawicki and Craig, “The Democratizatoin of Data: Bridging the Gap for Community Groups.” APA Journal 62 (1996): 512-23.