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City of Bits: Space,Place,and the Infobahn
by William J. Mitchell
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Cliche alert: just as railroads influenced settlement patterns and economics of the 19th century, and automobiles influenced settlement, commerce, and recreation in the 20th century, computer networks will influence how we live, work, and move (and how and even whether we move) in the 21st century.
William Mitchell, from MIT, is one of the first scholars to rigorously examine this modern cliche, and draws heavily on the history of architecture, and urbanism. If you suspect there is truth in these truisms, and want to get beyond facile sloganeering prophesying an infintely ductile future, I highly recommend this book. Mitchell does a very job of explaining not just how things are likely to change, but also of examining historical precendents such as telephony, and to what degree previous prognostications came true.
From Publishers Weekly
Digital technology is turning traditional architectural theory and planning upside down, contends Mitchell, who teaches architecture and media arts at MIT. In this rigorous, highly engaging study, he charts both the architecture of cyberspace and the transformation of buildings and living space in the information age. Examining a wide range of digital phenomena, such as the Internet, encryption tools, the major online services and virtual reality, he explains that the architectural paradigms put forth by civic planners and critics, from Aristotle to Baron Haussmann and Lewis Mumford, do not apply to cyberspace. Mitchell argues that online communities, transcending geographic boundaries and social contexts, offer new ways of thinking about urban design, private and public space, the separation of work and home life and personal identity. In more speculative chapters, he walks us through the changes in civic institutions such as libraries, hospitals, museums, banks and bookstores, changes made possible by computer technology. Complete with architectural blueprints, illustrations of digital gadgetry and an index of related Internet "surf sites," this is a particularly clever and evocative look at the "soft cities" of the 21st century.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Winston Churchill once said that we make our buildings and our buildings make us. With refreshing wit and lucid writing, Mitchell succeeds in updating that aphorism for the computer age.
Visit the City of Bits Web site
About the Author
William J. Mitchell is the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences and directs the Smart Cities research group at MIT's Media Lab. He was formerly Dean of the School of Architecture and Head of the Program in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT.
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