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City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn (On Architecture) [Paperback]

William J. Mitchell
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 1996 0262631768 978-0262631761 New edition

Entertaining, concise, and relentlessly probing, City of Bits is a comprehensive introduction to a new type of city, an increasingly important system of virtual spaces interconnected by the information superhighway. William Mitchell makes extensive use of practical examples and illustrations in a technically well-grounded yet accessible examination of architecture and urbanism in the context of the digital telecommunications revolution, the ongoing miniaturization of electronics, the commodification of bits, and the growing domination of software over materialized form.


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City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn (On Architecture) + e-topia + Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; New edition edition (August 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262631768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262631761
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
(13)
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating and thought provoking September 23, 1999
By A Customer
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and thought provoking September 23, 1999
By A Customer
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.
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entry level Telecommunication Book September 24, 1999
By A Customer
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The near future of the Internet, written in the near past
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... Read more
Published on July 5, 2009 by Junius Gunaratne
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe you had to be there
It's interesting to read after all these years the comments made some time after the publication of this book. Read more
Published on June 22, 2007 by Suzie Cheel
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive rambling
I found Mitchell's topic very interesting and approached the books with a lot of enthusiasm. However, in the end I found Mitchell's description disappointing. Read more
Published on December 7, 2004 by jlp2010
3.0 out of 5 stars Space and place in cyberspace
These are more a series of musings than a solid essay on the internet and architecture. It is definitely interesting, and it brings up many points that are currently being... Read more
Published on August 1, 2002 by Pumpkin King
4.0 out of 5 stars illustrative introduction to the bitsphere, telecom urbanism
W.J. Mitchell writes a picturesque collection of future scenes reflecting the impact of the digital telecommunications revolution in "City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn". Read more
Published on February 19, 2002 by telematiks
4.0 out of 5 stars IT Revolution
From the experience of history small, almost unnoticeable social phenomena, rather than radical movements at the foremost stage initiated most influential revolutions of our... Read more
Published on September 11, 2000 by Samer Adi
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading description from the publisher
Full of wonderful verbal cotton candy, this book seems to promise some insights into the role of technology in architecture. Read more
Published on August 13, 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Prescient
Scholarly and erudite synopsis of how the movement and possesion of "bits" will change and shape our lives and society. Read more
Published on July 25, 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible book, juvenile and obvious
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. Read more
Published on July 21, 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting...
It helps us to extend our imagination. And to have an idea regarding to the future city. It's fun.
Published on November 19, 1998
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