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."