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City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn: Space, Place and Infobahn Paperback – 3 Sep 1996


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City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn: Space, Place and Infobahn + Out Of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New edition edition (3 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262631768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262631761
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

"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." John W. Verity Business Week

About the Author

William J. Mitchell was the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences and directed the Smart Cities research group at MIT's Media Lab. He authored many books, including The World's Greatest Architect (2008) and Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City (2005), both published by the MIT Press.

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First Sentence
As the fin-de-K countdown cranked into the nineties, I became increasingly curious about the technicians I saw poking about in manholes. Read the first page
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 July 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm going to be brief, because this is all this book deserves. If you are truly interesed in the virtual, then please don't get your hopes up. This is "theory light", mostly covering the obvious ramifications of technology on architecture. For a worthwhile read on this subject, go to Paul Virilio, Manuel DeLanda, or Incorporations(ZONE6).
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Aug 1999
Format: Paperback
Full of wonderful verbal cotton candy, this book seems to promise some insights into the role of technology in architecture. Instead we get shallow commentary scribbled down at various airports and other points around the world. If you are interested in learning more about how information technology will shape architecture and urban spaces I recommend you start somewhere else.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 1998
Format: Paperback
It helps us to extend our imagination. And to have an idea regarding to the future city. It's fun.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Scholarly and erudite synopsis of how the movement and possesion of "bits" will change and shape our lives and society. Far from being facile, this book could be considered an intellectual blueprint for the virtual world of the future. The bibliographic notes alone are worth the price of admission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Stimulating and thought provoking 24 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found William Mitchell's book, "City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn," to be innovative, insightful and thought provoking. (Heh, heh, I was immediately able to relate to Mitchell as he described his daily routine: check email, reply to email, check electronic newspapers, check the weather, repeat during free moments.) His text was a great opportunity to break out of the monotony and "routine-ness" of life and consider what is and what might be.
Although I might be using some of the same cyber-services and electronic-tech-toys as William Mitchell, I had never fully considered the impact that some technological advances could have on life. "Cyborg Citizens," the third chapter of Mitchell's text is an excellent example. I appreciated this chapter not just because it was quite thorough, but because of its balanced construction - it discussed both sides of the issue fairly.
On one side of the coin, an individual could be extremely stoked with advances in personal, medical technology and what's possible in the future. Mitchell writes, "Anticipate the moment at which all your personal electronic devices can seamlessly be linked in a wireless bodynet that allows them to function as an integrated system and connects them to the worldwide digital network." Consider the possibilities with Mitchell. Medical files and profiles would become immediately available to physicians and medical practitioners. Through advances in telemedicine technology the family physician could make a virtual house visit or a surgeon could perform a complex operation from thousands of miles away. Yet, there is another side to coin. Consider the following. What if the tiny, injectable microchips used to track wildlife and pets were injected into us? Where would the line be drawn? How would this affect our lifestyles and our privacy? True, there are some valid points that could be raised in support of this practice, but would we really want to trackable? Would we really want to be cataloged? Do we really want or even need a device that will let others know where we are and possibly what we are doing at any given moment? Who would have access to this information?
Overall, I really enjoyed the "City of Bits." As I mentioned earlier, William Mitchell's text was extremely insightful and thought provoking for me. He does an excellent job of presenting a fairly balanced view. Mitchell sums it up well. "Cyberspace is opening up, and the ruse to claim and settle is on. We are entering an era of electronically extended bodies living at the intersection points of the physical and virtual worlds, of occupation and interaction through telepresence as well as through physical presence."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Insightful and thought provoking 23 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found William Mitchell's book, "City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn," to be innovative, insightful and thought provoking. (Heh, heh, I was immediately able to relate to Mitchell as he described his daily routine: check email, reply to email, check electronic newspapers, check the weather, repeat during free moments.) His text was a great opportunity to break out of the monotony and "routine-ness" of life and consider what is and what might be.
Although I might be using some of the same cyber-services and electronic-tech-toys as William Mitchell, I had never fully considered the impact that some technological advances could have on life. "Cyborg Citizens," the third chapter of Mitchell's text is an excellent example. I appreciated this chapter not just because it was quite thorough, but because of its balanced construction - it discussed both sides of the issue fairly.
On one side of the coin, an individual could be extremely stoked with advances in personal, medical technology and what's possible in the future. Mitchell writes, "Anticipate the moment at which all your personal electronic devices can seamlessly be linked in a wireless bodynet that allows them to function as an integrated system and connects them to the worldwide digital network." Consider the possibilities with Mitchell. Medical files and profiles would become immediately available to physicians and medical practitioners. Through advances in telemedicine technology the family physician could make a virtual house visit or a surgeon could perform a complex operation from thousands of miles away. Yet, there is another side to coin. Consider the following. What if the tiny, injectable microchips used to track wildlife and pets were injected into us? Where would the line be drawn? How would this affect our lifestyles and our privacy? True, there are some valid points that could be raised in support of this practice, but would we really want to trackable? Would we really want to be cataloged? Do we really want or even need a device that will let others know where we are and possibly what we are doing at any given moment? Who would have access to this information?
Overall, I really enjoyed the "City of Bits." As I mentioned earlier, William Mitchell's text was extremely insightful and thought provoking for me. He does an excellent job of presenting a fairly balanced view. Mitchell sums it up well. "Cyberspace is opening up, and the ruse to claim and settle is on. We are entering an era of electronically extended bodies living at the intersection points of the physical and virtual worlds, of occupation and interaction through telepresence as well as through physical presence."
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Entry level Telecommunication Book 24 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Solid Melts in Air"
"Space, Place, and the Infobahn: City of Bits" By William J. Mitchell is an excellent book that I would highly recommend to people who have very little or do not have any background in the notion of telecommunications. It explains thoroughly how some telecommunications systems operate. For example, Electronic Mail System, Internet, Bulletin Board Systems and so forth. William J. Mitchell also did a great job on contrasting and explaining both traditional and visional society in terms of conceptualization, humanity and social architecture infrastructure.
From the experience of history, most influential revolutions of our civilization were initiated by small, almost unnoticeable social phenomena, rather than radical movements at the foremost stage. For example, the Industrial Revolution (1700-1950) was started from the workers' creation of tools and machinery, and realization of advantages and effectiveness of those equipment. Small things like "pulling glass" (Mitchell 3) and "address" (Mitchell 8) are what William J. Mitchell stated as the indication of social and telecommunications evolution.
According to William J. Mitchell, it is important for us to have a minimum comprehension, as well as awareness of how the society is designed and constructed. The reason is the new technological era will bring tremendous impacts on our live, to be an "inhabitant, participant and spectator" (Mitchell 20) is the best way to get control of our own live and not to be dominated by others.
It is an interesting and innovative book to read if you are a stranger to the technology development, for example, electronic devices are all connected (Mitchell 29) and the problem of stocking piling and transporting will be minimized in the business of printing press (Mitchell 49-50). It will make a lot of sense if you have some kind knowledge or experience with computer, for example, bandwidth will determine the value of a network connection (Mitchell 17) and code is power in the future society (Mitchell 112). It will be less fascinating if you are already very updated with the telecommunications issues, however, the book still raise quite a few new visions and controversial topics that are worthwhile for us to consider and to discuss again and again. For example, the migration of social, economic and political activity (Mitchell 159) and the redesign of architecture and urban planning (Mitchell 49).
I am pleased to read a telecommunication-related book that is written from a different perspective, from the perspective of a contemporary architect. And I particularly like the use of "solid melts in air" (Mitchell 57) as a metaphor of tangible goods being digitized.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The near future of the Internet, written in the near past 5 July 2009
By Junius Gunaratne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had I come across this book a decade ago I'd have appreciated it more. While it may have been interesting to hear Mitchell prognosticate about the Internet in the mid-1990s, much of this book's content now seems dated. Numerous futuristic scenarios he describes are run-of-the-mill today. Some of what he envisioned is spot on: anyone will be able to telecommute to work, watch CNN and socialize with friends on multiple screens connected to a personal computer; video conferencing will be commonplace; people will be able to get answers to specialized questions in niche online forums. Other prognostications have yet to fully pan out: distance will become irrelevant and the landscapes of cities will be changed by the Internet as much as the automobile changed cities.

The best chapters of this book examine architecture and how the design of space in buildings affect people's movement, activities and behavior within that space. Mitchell convincingly argues that design of space can be applied to the virtual world. Still, the technologies and services Mitchell describes as the conduits that would shape the space of the Internet didn't really pan out. I don't think too many people are still going to usenet to find people with common interests, nor are ISPs like eWorld, Compuserv or Prodigy particularly relevant today, as Mitchell seems to have thought they would have been. As someone living in 2009, most of this book comes across as, well, duh, of course. Then again, since I have the benefit of living in the future that Mitchell describes, it's easy for me to say that.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Misleading description from the publisher 14 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Full of wonderful verbal cotton candy, this book seems to promise some insights into the role of technology in architecture. Instead we get shallow commentary scribbled down at various airports and other points around the world. If you are interested in learning more about how information technology will shape architecture and urban spaces I recommend you start somewhere else.
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