In a digitally-determined world, we expect information to be available quickly whenever it is required; we demand a range of options for getting together with others and a high degree of flexibility in all aspects of our contact with other people. But what happens to this high-speed lifestyle when people require help or care, or responsibility has to be assumed and continuity ensured? Children; the sick and elderly: these are people that simply require more attention and care, and they cannot, or at least should not, be left to fend for themselves. Such persons often need help in everyday tasks. But their involvement in events in their local district, neighbourhood or city also usually requires the presence of others. Do digital technologies help us here? Do they negate the necessity of a dependable presence? Or do care responsibilities count as one of the “networks of change, of the consistently novel”, given that they are constantly performed by different people? To what extent are we prepared or even able to reorganise the priorities of our high-speed lives, rife with swift change and the endless possibilities offered by work and leisure? When personal continuity is required, who should provide it? Who should be paid for it? And what are we ourselves actually prepared to give? The point here is not to provide definitive answers, make moralistic appeals or set out normative standards for urban living spaces: more important are reflections on our lifestyle and the times in which we live, both of which require scrutiny, dependability, trust and the assumption of responsibility.

Jutta M. Bott has been Professor for Social Work theory, practice and strategy in FH Potsdam’s Social Work Faculty since September 2004. She holds German Diplom degrees in psychology and social pedagogy and is a qualified, state-approved practitioner of psychotherapy and clinical supervision with extensive experience in the psychiatric field. Practice and teaching fields: psychiatry, work with the elderly and cross-generational groups, work in community and socio-spatial fields. Member of the “City Climate Potsdam” interdisciplinary Innovation Institute at FH Potsdam since April 2010. May 2009 – April 2012: Head of the SILQUA Project run by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Social Innovations for Quality of Life for the Elderly) “Gut leben im (HOHEN) Alter” (Good Living in Old Age) – Concepts for socio-spatial support of self-care, personal organisation and networking in the context of demographic change.