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<nettime> Mitchell++ {AT} aa - placing us into...
Alex Wilkie on Wed, 19 Nov 2003 20:25:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Mitchell++ {AT} aa - placing us into...

Bill++ Mitchell spoke at the aa (Architectural Association) last night.  
Presenting his new book 'Me++ : The Cyborg Self and the Networked City'  
to a 'prestigious' UK(?) audience. Hoping to get some 'urbanista'  
insights into how intermingling wireless telematics and  
corporeal-agency are being framed in the urban environment, I sat in  
the remote-video linked canteen with the kids - patiently tapping...

Bill++'s deal is this: new technologies cause social fragmentation and  
dispersal. Centralized to decentralized social patterning (hard or soft  
technological determinism - you decide!) is taking place. Bill++s  
example: the domestic bath gravitated people from public corporeal  
cleansing to private...thus creating new urban conditions...

The dispersed infrastructure of wireless networks is creating new  
fields, rather than points, of presence - communities for example can  
now have strong remote links. Portability is enabling resources to be  
accessed in these new fields of presence, however they also create  
fragmentation and re-combination. Where once computing and  
telecommunications was once attached to a specific place - think of  
telephone boxes - now places have become fluid and temporal due to  
portability. Thus a new layer (or layers?) of activity is being  
over-layed onto the urban environment. Where once buildings and  
structures framed activity, wireless networks are now seen as a key  
issue and resource for urban planning - opinion shared by recent Demos  
research (Harkin, J. Mobilisation. 2003).

So, what do WE get? Well, we get a ROW attitude - a kind of: this is  
how we do it at the MIT and that's how we expect ROW to get it. New  
places - such as parks (what real function did they play anyway) - to  
find jobs, out of the panoptic gaze of the corporeal boss (forget sys  
admin track and trace here). New places - such as canteens (such as one  
I was tapping in...) to re-purpose as studio-work spaces (this should  
be done with a tablet pc by the way). And then...perhaps...dispersed  
forms of grassroots demonstration (he showed some well chosen  
googled-images here). And that was it. I was hoping Bill++ would  
provide some urbanista insights into political and ethical sites but  
grassroots was really it.

Unfortunately sitting in the canteen I couldn't catch the drift of the  
questions and answerve session...

What then, did I take away? Well, one thing is that the boundaries of  
subjectivity are not really being addressed. They are in terms of SRI  
style technological augmentation -body-technology dualism -  but not in  
terms bodies as sites and topologies of relational socio-technical  
assemblages. This then continues the opposition of corporeality and  
space-time - a background into which we are placed.......

March, 1981
Mr. Kenji Urada, 37, becomes the first reported death caused by a  
robot. A self-propelled robotic cart crushed him as he was trying to  
repair it in a Japanese factory.

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