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e-topia 1st Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262133555
ISBN-10: 0262133555
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Editorial Reviews Review

This little book begins with a big claim: the city is dead, and cyberspace killed it. But Mitchell, it turns out, is too intelligent an observer to really mean anything quite so drastic. Despite his weakness for bold, catchy statements (and it is a weakness), this MIT architecture professor has both feet planted in the long and much-studied history of urban spaces, and he draws from it a pragmatic optimism that keeps his argument both hopeful and nuanced. His real thesis: Under cyberspace's influence, the city is changing, no more or less radically than it did under the influence of postal systems, electricity, and cars. And if we ride the new changes carefully, he insists, the places we live and work in can become "e-topias--lean, green cities that work smarter, not harder."

As in his bestselling City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn, Mitchell floats his claims on a brisk stream of technological detail, much of it eye-opening, all of it clearly presented. Low-earth-orbit satellites; small-scale, wearable computer networks woven into underpants; artificially intelligent houses; and the logistics of high-tech pizza delivery are just a few of the phenomena that go into Mitchell's sketch of the emergent digital city. Casually erudite nods to urban theorists from Plato to Lewis Mumford to William H. Gates III round out the portrait. In the end, Mitchell shows us the city doing more or less what it has always done: evolving away from its simple, ancient roots toward increasingly mediated complexity. --Julian Dibbell

From Publishers Weekly

For readers who've been crouched over their Commodore 64s for the past two decades, here's a user's guide to the perils and pleasures of a digitally shaped future. In this extended postscript to his well-received City of Bits, Mitchell, dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, chronicles the disparate effects of the digital revolution, arguing that we need to think of architecture and urban design in terms of virtual spaces and places. Offering short, evocative bitsAor perhaps they're bytesAof his trademark tongue-in-cheek prose, Mitchell discusses how hubs of networked information will transform our cities, just as rail hubs and highway off-ramps generated urban development in the past. In the world of online commerce and 24-hour chat rooms, we're challenged to reinvent public places and reknit our social fabric for the information age. Importantly, Mitchell notes, we'll need to contend with physical consequences of virtual reality, such as the clustering of affluent silicon communities and the marginalization of the poor to places such as crime-ridden East Palo Alto. Much of the book, however, dwells superfluously on techno-gadgetry from wrist-worn stock quote devices to telerobots that, via a dial-up connection and a robotic arm, will enable people to make remote toast. Veterans of the digital frontier will find little new ground here, and others may cavil at the author's habit of writing about "the late 1990s" in the past tense, as if we've already been stranded along some darkened byway of the infobahn. Nonetheless, Mitchell's remains a sensitive and cogent voice amid the mounting decibels of technological hype. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (September 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262133555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262133555
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,911,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Geoff White on October 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All in all, Mitchell's vision of urban life in the industrialized nations is compelling. He weaves a convincing mosaic of The City of "real soon now", where the design elements of architecture are extended to include the additions of Bandwidth, telepresence, conduit and storage. Indeed, as a network engineer myself, I believe he pretty much has it spot on, for those of us who are fortunate to live in the Northern Hemisphere. But what of the rest of the planet who won't have OC-48 cables running down their main streets? (80% of humanity have never come in contact with a computer, let alone a network infrastructure). He paints a picture of a glorious brave new cyberworld for the top 5%, but ignores the implications of this technology on the other 95% of the people on this rock we call earth. Still, if you are one of the fortunate ones (or wish you were) to be able to take part in this vision, the book is well worth reading. Earth: E-topia or Borg Planet, YOU decide!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Prof David T Wright on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
E-topia presents a top-level, grounded look at a distant future through the impact of Internet technology specifically related to rich-nations urban spaces, architecture, work and leisure.
The concise, intelligently written, well-referenced chapters span:
* march of the meganets- digiphiles versus digiphobes, after the digital revolution, information infrastructure & opportunity, new networks and urban transformation, the big pipes, connected to the backbone, new global interdependence, from POP to your door, the network city extended, the end of rural isolation, residual wireless backblocks, public and private, behind the firewalls and filters, and the task ahead.
* telematics takes command- proscenium and display, screenspace, out of the box, center and periphery, up in the lights, virtual reality, and augmented reality.
* software- new genius of the place- embedded intelligence, instant networking, and form fetches function.
* computers for living in- wear ware, body nets, appliance intelligence, electronic teamwork, buildings with nervous systems, intelligent resource consumption, adaptive behaviour, reconceiving construction, the I-bahn, and smart cities.
* homes and neighbourhoods- displacement of space, reconfigured homes, rethinking planning/zoning, sociology of wired dwellings, localisation, renucleation, twenty-four hour electronic neighbourhoods, redistributed secondary relationships, and dual cities.
* getting together- online meeting places, shift in scale, invisible boundaries, virtuality, connectivity and sociability, electronic co-ordination, cyberturf, e-vox populi, civitas and urbs decoupled, and reinventing public space.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ron Mader on September 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
- (From Planeta Journal) E-topia is a joyous, philosophical joy ride on the Internet.
Author William Mitchell provides a history lesson about the role of information and technology. He examines the implications of the new digital infrastructure and provides some not-so-futuristic examples of things to come, including wearable technology and new urban infrastructure.
Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mitchell makes a convincing case that we must extend the definitions of architecture and urban design to include virtual realities as well as physical ones. His proposals are creative and practical and show the possibilities of increased interconnectivity on both a personal and a global scale.
While the entire book is a tour-de-force, the last two chapters of the volume shine. "The Economics of Presence" neatly summarizes synchronistic and asyncronistic communication. "Lean and Green" takes on the topic of green building techniques. E-topia is a superb introduction to the digital revolution at hand.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tigran Haas on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Changes and advancements are already at our front door: in political philosophy, technology, communications, infrastructure as well as shifts in attitudes and behavior of people. It all will affect regions, cities and communities, and basically alter the requisites for future planning and the role of professionals. Today we are faced with two complex processes: urbanization and globalization. This is closely followed by the development of increasingly sophisticated information technologies and radical transformations of other network-complex infrastructure systems such as telecommunications, transport, energy, etc. What seems to set itself as one of the most interesting challenges today is the complex interaction between infrastructure networks, new information technologies and emerging new architectural and urban patterns and forms.

In "e-topia", William J. Mitchell, dean of School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the well-known work City of Bits, gives us an insightful view about tomorrow cities and the way we may live in them. Given his dual background in Architecture and Information Technology field, Mitchell offers a very vivid-balanced and at times thought provoking view on how information (digital) technology will shape our regions, cities, communities, neighborhoods and homes in the (near) future. Mitchell's main emphasis is on how the new technologies will shape and alter the urban form.

"E-topia" consists of 10 chapters, which can be read as a whole and as separate entities. This gives an additional quality to this work, apart from the pristine language and clarity of discussion, which can appeal to wider non-technical and non-architectural audience.
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