ME++ The Cyborg Self and the Networked City

author: William J. Mitchell, MIT Media Lab, School of Architecture + Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: July 18, 2011,   recorded: November 2003,   views: 6160

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Throughout history, humans have created unique physical spaces in which to live, work and socialize. But the digital age has completely transformed the places in which we conduct our affairs, according to William J. Mitchell. We don’t congregate at the town bank any more for financial transactions. We visit ATMs or bank online. Interactions that once required people to face each other now take place via computer, often across vast distances. Mitchell describes the disappearance of familiar public structures like phone booths, as well as the migration of work from office to just about anywhere a wireless connection is possible. As technology becomes imbedded in our lives and literally disappears into the woodwork, Mitchell sees the possibility for new kinds of extended communities. Network technology has enabled “discontinuous, asynchronous global agoras,” says Mitchell, exemplified by the most recent Gulf War protests. Organizers used digital space (email lists and websites) to help orchestrate public gatherings, which in turn generated images fed back to the Internet, spurring interest in country after country, time-zone after time-zone. Mitchell believes that such networks open up new methods for human assembly and political organization, but also increase the risks to individuals of surveillance.

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