Atlas of Places
Highway Patterns I
To change established patterns of thought is not an easy task, especially when it comes to infrastructure. According to Paul Edwards, a well-functioning infrastructure is by definition invisible, because its very purpose is to provide a basis for other activities—to accommodate different actors, their shifting goals, and modes of engagement. Only when it breaks down does infrastructure come to the fore.
This is because, Edwards writes, there is a pervasive analytical habit, according to which social development and infrastructure are perceived as somehow separate. This view specifies that social and political values evolve following their own logic, whereas infrastructure is understood as a form that does not affect content—as something quiet, silent, and universal. Following Bruno Latour, Edwards criticizes this view, arguing that infrastructures are deeply sociopolitical: their design, use, and maintenance require a very particular form of social organization; the change of infrastructure entails changes in politics and society.