Summary How an electronically connected world will shape cities and urban relationships of the future. The global digital network is not just a delivery system for email, Web pages, and digital television. It is a whole new urban infrastructure—one that will change the forms of our cities as dramatically as railroads, highways, electric power supply, and telephone networks did in the past. In this lucid, invigorating book, William J. Mitchell examines this new infrastructure and its implications for our future daily lives. Picking up where his best-selling City of Bits left off, Mitchell argues that we must extend the definitions of architecture and urban design to encompass virtual places as well as physical ones, and interconnection by means of telecommunication links as well as by pedestrian circulation and mechanized transportation systems.
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Since its stirring prologue states that And we must recognize that the fundamental web of relationships among homes, workplaces, and sources As a computer scientist reading this book in , I find very little to commend. And we must recognize that the fundamental web of relationships among homes, workplaces, and sources of everyday supplies and services -the essential bonds that hold cities together- may now be formed in new and unorthodox ways.
It is, I suggest, a moment to reinvent urban design and development and to rethink the role of architecture [ It is true that some interesting questions are raised, for example after reviewing the impact of historical transport and service networks : We all, therefore, have an immediate and vital interest in this mother of all networks [digital teleccominications networks], and in the social, economic, policy and design questions that it raises.
What new benefits might it bring, and what are they worth to us? How will it get constructed and paid for? How will it interact with existing urban patterns? Who will control it? Who will get access and when? How might we balance incentives for telecommunications entrepreneurs and investors with policies that assure equities of access?
What social and cultural qualities do we want this new mediator of our everyday lives to have? Of course there is a sense of sanguine excitement about the possibilities -remember this book was published in the middle of the Internet or dot-com bubble- but most of the possibilities he covers, have become staples of everyday life.
It is only in the last chapter Lean and Green that the author gets down to suggesting five design principles, but given the premises of the book, it is too little and too late: 1. Dematerialization [nowadays it would be called virtualization] 2. Demobilization [substituting telecommunication for travel] 3. Mass customization 4. Intelligent operation [the Internet of everything?
Soft transformation [of cities] In short, a disappointing read -I probably need to search for something a little more recent
E-Topia: "urban Life, Jim -- But Not as We Know It"
William J. Mitchell