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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Book review of William J. Mitchell's E-TOPIA "Urban life, Jim - but not as we know it"


The author describes a wide variety of new digital technologies with suggestive questions on their implications for changing the physical and socialexperienceoftheurbanenvironment. Herangesfreely(andlightly), across theory, technology, and visionary hype, while seeding the text with references to Aristotle, Plato, Mumford and McLuhan, and figures made familiar by WIRED magazine such as Ted Nelson, early proponent of computers as a tools of personal liberation, and Nicolas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s experimental Media Lab. While no theory is applied consistently, Mitchell does invoke themes from classical urban theory: the value of the agora, the public meeting place, and the nature of com- munity relationships (“without propinquity”) in the emergent e-topia.

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