Airports as a Preview of the Future

I’ve been toying with the idea that airports offer a view into what the U.S.  could look like in the future. There are a lot of trends that have emerged in this country that I believe are in full force in airports. This is a list of what I’ve been thinking.

  • A security apparatus, justified by the constant threat of terrorism.
    • Very tight controls on who comes in, and what you can possess.
    • Clearly biased against minorities
    • Constant presence of military (travel in uniform, priority boarding for those in active duty)
    • Constant reminder of the threats the country faces (CNN on every screen)
  • Social stratifications (passengers, first class, business class, fast food restaurant employees, janitors, security)
    • Passengers are divided by class (boarding order, rewards membership, first class, economy class)
    • Visible class and race division between passengers and airport/shops/restaurant employees
  • Lack of options, favors large corporations (food, stores, wifi)
    • Limited space, high barrier of entry for vendors (I think, would like to look into this more)
    • One or two WiFi providers (who also profit off your data)
    • Ok, this one requires more thought, but I think I’m onto something here
  • Constant surveillance
    • By video with cameras, and your data from WiFi providers
    • ID required at different checkpoints
  • Only airport (state) approved behavior
    • Low tolerance of misbehavior, breaking of rules
    • No protests, no space for dissent, no civil disobedience

Much of this is aided by the use of technology. There is an entire chapter devoted to airports as “coded spaces” in “Code/Space” by Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge. The chapter is meant to illustrate how software transforms and often defines a space, but it also provides a good list of ways in which technology affords more control over people and objects in an airport. Control of the type which any state would love to have.

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