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    lamenting the loss of the unknown landscape +
    via things:

    By committing our memory to Google or the 'cloud' we have inadvertently created a great hunger for the intangible and ephemeral, the scraps and minutae of everyday life that get sucked into the circuitry and instantly forgotten. Already we are lamenting the loss of the unknown landscape as a result of global satellite imagery, gps and mapping. Physical space and the raw quality of still air immobilised by a structure cannot be duplicated or imitated. The 'infrastructural city' is not the labyrinth of chance encounters so celebrated by the Situationists. Our interactions are manufactured and governed...

    How do we reconcile the real city, with its messy unpredictability, with the visionary dreams of the utopians, where everything is connected and complete interaction is taken for granted? The internet does its best to connect the two, but it feels as though the scraps of reality, once processed, scanned and catalogued, lose the very qualities that endear them in the first place. Example: the literal billions of images on flickr are a snapshot of people, places and things defined by a finite number of tags, not the myriad, impossible to reproduce connections that denote reality.

    Perhaps this gap will close, and visual search systems, tags and metadata will evolve to supersede the connections we make instinctively. But ultimately the city is not about searching, but about memory, and how cultural collages trigger, accentuate and erase our rememberance of the past and our perception of the future. The data city of the future will be unnavigable without technology, granted, but as a species we seem to be crying out for help remembering, unable to find things with the arsenal of digital tools and reliant, instead, on other people's recollections. This is why, we'd suggest, that the idea of archives, museums, drawers, corridors, boxes, cellars, warehouses and vaults, modern ruins and scanned ephemera, still hold such fascination, without ever really satisfying our innate desire for things.

    then Millenium People (also via things):

    Contemporary data, being instant and always accessible, is also instantly forgettable. Couple this with declining attention spans (I wonder how many readers even make it to this point) and you arrive at an inescapable conclusion: in the future we will either learn to forge more ephemeral relationships to information (we won't remember, but we won't need to) or we will learn to handle information in a very different way.

    Since, and this is my real point, the future is never merely a prolongation or projection of the conditions of the present, I would definitely consider the latter as more likely. The future is the data city, but it won't be accepted by people as the city of the future. To a certain extent the city has always been a 'data city', the possibility for the exchange of information (and obviously goods and services) is what intitially permitted for fixed settlements. And yet the way that data is handled by the city's citizens changes all the time, and to envisage the city of the future in the digital or informatic terms of today is as redundant as the utopias of the steampunk clique. To extend Things' conclusion – the rise of digital information might be weakening the reasons for the city's existence at all. In this future, the metropolis itself may one day become physically irrelevant.

    Mon, Oct 5, 2009  Permanent link

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    urbanistos     Wed, Oct 7, 2009  Permanent link
    I have been thinking about this too, and have wondered how we can reoccupy the city in a manner that re-engages with the unknown and the mysterious. There is something so bloody relentless and joyless about the ubiquity of technological mapping processes, and the tracking of the landscape, and yet it also produces an enormous amount of noise and misconception.

    I suspect that the city the Situationists longed for and deeply loved is still with us, and the light hasn't shined into all the corners - but to access this city, one has to move one's own body in a different way, occupying space in a different way and with a different agenda. Google Street View is a simulation, and I suspect that there are tremendous opportunities opened up by the false impression of 'reality' that it imparts.

    Final thought: I have wondered if fiction can be used as a method of occupying the city in a different way. I suspect it is worth considering.