Big Data, Big Rhetoric in Toronto’s Smart City

T. F. Tierney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While acknowledging the city as a site of disciplinary and technological disruption, this paper introduces Bratton’s stack theory as a way to understand smart cities more generally, and Waterfront Toronto specifically. We build on Bratton’s position by closely examining twenty-first century histories and anthropologies related to the internet, privacy, and the dominance of big data. Our principal concern is with the transformation of personal and environmental data into an economic resource. Seen through that particular lens, we argue that Toronto’s smart city has internalized relations of colonization whereby the economic objectives of a multinational technology company take on new configurations at a local level of human (and non-human) information extraction—thereby restructuring not only public land, but also everyday life into a zone of unmitigated consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-363
Number of pages13
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019


  • Internet of Things
  • citizen participation
  • data privacy
  • network technologies
  • smart cities
  • urban planning
  • urban studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Urban Studies


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